Europe Day 2021 - A connected Europe

Online Europe Day in the spirit of co-determination

LH Mikl-Leitner/LR Eichtinger: More citizen participation in shaping Europe through 'Conference on the Future of Europe' and 'Salons-Europa-Forum Wachau' - 27.4 million euros of EU funding for Lower Austria from REACT-EU fund for jobs and economy in the local regions.

At the invitation of Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner and Europe Councillor Martin Eichtinger, the future of Europe and its importance in the regions were discussed at the online Europe Day "A connected Europe" together with exciting guests such as Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, Martin Selmayr, Head of the Representation of the EU Commission Austria and Municipal Association President Alfred Riedl.


"As a strong region, it is important to us in Lower Austria to celebrate Europe Day together with a strong involvement of the citizens, especially young people. We take the needs and wishes of the population seriously and work together on the best ideas and projects for a livable, secure, competitive, and strong Europe," emphasize Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner and Provincial Councilor Martin Eichtinger at the online Europe Day in Perchtoldsdorf.


27.4 million euros from REACT-EU funds for Lower Austria

"Important pages of European history are currently being written. The COVID crisis has shown what Europe can and must achieve when its facing challenging times. The EU reconstruction fund "NextGenerationEU" is forward-looking. It is endowed with 750 billion euros and helps directly in the regions to cushion the damage to the economy and society," said Mikl-Leitner, who was pleased that Austria was one of the first EU countries to be approved for additional funds. "Lower Austria has 27.4 million euros of REACT-EU funds at its disposal. These subsidies will ensure jobs and economy in the region."


"Last year's involuntary roller coaster ride showed that many things also worked really well in Europe during the pandemic. In the European Union, for example, we managed to keep the common internal market running and mastered to launch the largest financial package in the history of European integration with the reconstruction fund," emphasizes Federal Minister Alexander Schallenberg.


Lower Austria sets an example for citizen participation at European level

The conference on the future of Europe, whose official kick-off event will take place on Europe Day, May 9, and the opportunities to get involved were given special attention. Lower Austria, for example, already has a lot of experience in citizen participation processes. "Within the framework of the Europa-Forum Wachau Salons, we have already been able to ask more than 4,000 interested people about topics which are relevant to Europe," says Europe Regional Councillor Martin Eichtinger and continues: "Our approach so far has been to collect the results of Lower Austria's citizen participation processes and take them to Brussels. . The conference on the future of Europe now enables us to express our demands for improving EU communication, strengthening the European identity and increasing the use of digitization into concrete EU measures via other channels."


European Local Councils are the link between municipalities and Europe

"The European local councils are the EU ambassadors in the regions. They are central interfaces to the EU and the link to European information for the municipalities," explains Eichtinger. In the meantime, almost 350 European local councils are acting actively in more than 300 municipalities. The EU Service Agency Lower NÖ.Regional is also the first point of contact for the European local councils and provides information on current, interesting and relevant issues.


"The European Union is part of every community. Therefore, we must actively shape the space in which we operate and in which our citizens live together - across the municipal, provincial and ultimately also federal borders! A clear goal for me, however, is that we firmly integrate an ambassador of the European idea in every single municipality in Austria in the next years," says Alfred Riedl, President of the Association of Austrian Municipalities.


Numerous EU programs were presented. The initiative "Europe fängt in den Gemeinden an", the small project fund for cross-border cooperation, youth projects in and from the Lower Austrian communities were presented.


"The projects that are being set up in Lower Austria are a great proof that Europe is what we make it. Right now, when Europe needs to regain momentum as a result of the Corona crisis, is the moment to shape. After the experience of the Corona pandemic, citizens need a strong voice in the future direction of Europe more than ever," said Martin Selmayr, Head of the European Commission Representation in Austria, who was awarded the Dr. Alois Mock Europe Prize at the event.


Youth plays an important role in the future of Europe

Mikl-Leitner also sees an increased will to shape Europe and take responsibility among young people and emphasizes: "The importance, but also the opportunities to exchange and network within Europe and the world are becoming ever greater. European funding programs such as the EU's Erasmus+ program are very popular and contribute immensely to the creation of a European identity and to European mobility."