Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-10-24-Speech-2-352"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, I would first like to thank everyone who has been involved in the deliberations on this report, especially the shadow rapporteurs and members of other committees who have made their comments. I wish in particular to thank my esteemed colleagues and coordinators, Mrs Pack and Mrs Prets, because, being a member of the smallest group, I would not have been able to produce this report without your support. I am also grateful for the excellent team spirit and cooperation which you have shown in our committee. The programme consists of four areas of action. The first is a Europe of active citizens, which includes town-twinning and citizens’ projects. Town-twinning has already proven to be a success story, and I hope that this success story will continue and go from strength to strength with this programme. Furthermore, the citizens’ projects are very important. One central idea in establishing this programme was that the European Union could indeed have a grassroots programme which would not be elitist and which the people, the citizens of the European Union, could think of as theirs. The second area of action is active civil society in Europe. This could help provide structural support for EU public policy research organisations (think-tanks) and for NGOs at European level, as well as support for projects coordinated by these NGOs. I think it is vitally important that open adult education centres and vocational colleges, non-degree-based organisations, have a bigger role, because these are just the sort of organisations that are best at reaching out to ordinary people at grassroots level. This way, this programme will hopefully also open its doors to people all over the European Union, and they will feel it is something relevant to them. The third area of action is ‘Together for Europe’, supporting high visibility events, studies and information and dissemination tools. As we know, it is important to promote the European Union in the appropriate way and to bring it closer to people, because there are shortcomings too in the area of information and communications. People feel that they are a long way from the decision-making process, and therefore they feel that European Union programmes are remote. We have much work to do to bring the Union closer to the people by providing information and through various events. A fourth area of action was added to the programme, and this is the preservation of Active European Remembrance. There was intense discussion on this in our committee. We finally hit on the idea that, when this action was transferred from the Culture 2000 Programme, it was just this memory of Nazism and Stalinism that we needed to preserve, so that no horrors like this can ever occur again in Europe. We think that it is very important that future generations are also able to understand what the European identity is, what peace is, and what stability is, and it is therefore also important to guarantee active remembrance. It would also obviously have been desirable for the budget to be up-to-date when this programme was being put together. We know, however, that for some reason there is not as yet enough sympathy in the European Parliament, or at least not in the European Commission or the Council, for cultural projects, or enough appreciation of their importance. I myself believe that culture and our civil society create a basis on which a dynamic and thriving economy can also be built. We on the Committee on Culture and Education, being cultured people, should ensure that the budget will be more effective in the future. This time we were obliged to some extent to cut it from the Commission’s original proposal under pressure from the Council, but I hope that the programme can be got underway here, and that it will become a success story. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude for the cooperation and general understanding that has been reached between the Commission, the Council and Parliament. I am especially glad that NGOs, open universities and amateur sports clubs have been included in the programme. I hope that when this programme starts in early 2007 it might become another success story."@en1

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