“European leaders need to work on a daily basis to restore the trust of all citizens in the institutions. Politicians need to be more accessible and closer to people”, stated the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva at the European Forum in Wachau, Austria.
The European Forum in Wachau is organized since 1995 when Austria joined the European Union. Its goal is to strengthen dialogue with the citizens and serve as a platform for discussion of common solutions for the future of the EU. It is held in Göttweig Abbey as a symbolic reference to the Christian values around which the Union is built. This year’s main topic of the forum, which Deputy Prime Minister Zaharieva attended as guest speaker, was “A Europe Closer to Its Citizens”.
In her speech Deputy Prime Minister Zaharieva outlined the current challenges faced by the European Union, such as terrorism, migration, decelerating economic growth, climate changes. She emphasized that the people’s perception that the EU model is in crisis leads to diminishing of the credibility of the EU and its policies. Therefore, for European politicians it is a prime task to bring the Union closer to its citizens.
“We must stop once and for all blaming Brussels for the problems, while at the same time taking credit for the success at home. We have to employ more and more evidence-based policies and we have to work hard to increase the in-depth knowledge among European citizens about how the EU works”, Zaharieva said. According to her, another challenge for Europe today is the need for politicians to demonstrate convincingly to the citizens that the EU has the ability to gain from globalization. “Let us not forget that only a few years ago the free movement of people, goods and services was impossible. The EU brought us the opportunity to work anywhere we want to, to have free access to information and benefit from the diversity of the common market”, Zaharieva added.
The Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister emphasized that a shared sense of fairness among all EU citizens would be the highest indicator for the quality of the work of the institutions in the Union.
As important steps Zaharieva outlined the swift access to the judicial system, including through new technologies, reduction of bureaucracy for the citizens and the business sector, common defense policy, overcoming causes of radicalization among young people.
Prior to the forum, Minister Zaharieva attended a memorial service in honor of the late former Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Alois Mock.