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“Europe’s diversity lies in its rural areas”


Last Wednesday, our German MEP Ulrike Müller (Freie Wähler) hosted an event in her native Bavaria as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe which aims to bring together citizens at both local and transnational events to collect and debate ideas for the future of the European Union.

Ulrike Müller’s event, which took place on top of the Nebelhorn near Oberstdorf in Bavaria, focused on citizens’ ideas for this particular region. Gabi Schmidt, Federal Vice-Chairwoman of the Freie Wähler, pointed out in her opening speech that “Europe ultimately lives from and through its regions. 70% of all European [legislative] processes end up with municipalities or businesses. It is therefore essential to involve them when we are talking about Europe.”

The main part of the event formed a workshop during which participants were asked to note down their priorities for five key topics of environment, economy and social justice, health, digitalisation, migration, and education, culture and youth. The results of the workshop were summarised in a position paper which Ulrike Müller will take back to Brussels with her.

In his speech, the EDP’s Secretary General Sandro Gozi said: „The Conference [on the Future of Europe] is fundamental for our Union. We are living a moment of huge transformation – a Darwinian moment. A moment in which it’s not the strongest who wins the battle but the one who shows the better capacity to adapt […] The EDP is present at the Conference; I will personally bring our priorities to the Conference, and I’m sure that together, we can really make it happen, we can really transform our Union and make it “fitter” for the new challenges ahead of us.”

As their personal priorities, participants listed, amongst other things, EU-wide climate regulations which could not be changed by individual member states, improved working conditions for health workers, digitalising public authorities (e-files), an actual recognition of all European degrees and certificates in all other EU member states, and regional supply chains.

Ulrike Müller praised the Conference and called for European solutions to transnational issues: “People who know me know that I am a proud and committed European who works towards this common European project, so that young people, the next generation, can still experience it the way we know it. We have to preserve this shared Europe. […] The present challenges are huge. We have to build a positive future together and we all know, after the last one-and-a-half years, that Covid or climate change are not confined by borders. We therefore have to solve these issues on a European level.”

She pointed out the need to focus more on people living in the countryside, saying “There are 137 million people living in Europe’s rural areas, that is almost 30% of the European population, on what amounts to 80% of the continent.”

“Europe’s diversity lies in its rural areas,” Ulrike Müller said. “And this is one of the aims of the Conference on the Future of Europe, to reflect this diversity.”

You can watch the recording of the event here: