Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-10-24-Speech-2-355"

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". Mr President, first of all, I should like to thank the rapporteur, Mr Takkula, for his excellent report and for his good cooperation. I welcome this programme with open arms, for it will benefit the public, us in this House and the European Union as a whole. After all, the Europe for Citizens programme finally indicates that the citizens should not be there for Europe but the other way round. Europe is there for its citizens. Only when the European Union obtains concrete results for its citizens can we count on support for this European Union. Needless to say, we can try to enhance the bonding process between our citizens and the EU by organising exchange programmes and events, but it is always more successful if the citizens come up with their own initiatives, which is where this programme comes in. I am grateful to Mr Takkula, to my fellow Members in all the groups, as well as to the Commission and Council, for the good working relationship we have enjoyed in dealing with this dossier. There is, however, something that I need to get off my chest. The European Union has recognised that there is a chasm between its citizens and the institutions. This programme is in recognition of this and tries to make amends in this respect. Why then, have we skimped on this programme and other vitally important programmes? Talking about citizen involvement without injecting money into it is, of course, a waste of time. I will in any event do all I can to promote this programme to people in the Netherlands. I hope that other Members will bring this programme to people’s attention in their own countries too. If we all made a huge success of it, next time, the Council and the Commission may have no choice but to increase the budget of the Europe for Citizens programme to an acceptable level. There is no doubt that the Europe for Citizens programme can become a success. In Europe, there are many people who are prepared to actively work on Europe's integration. This programme allows them to take part in the process and get organising. It is, therefore, enormously important for the European citizens to have the sense of being involved in the EU's development. That is what this programme makes possible. My appeal to the citizens of Europe is therefore that they seize that opportunity."@en1

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