The European Commission’s ‘Plan D for Dialogue, Democracy and Debate’ has succeeded in its goal of organising a “broad public debate on the future of the European Union,” according to Commission Vice President Margot Wallström.
Speaking at an April 2 press conference, Wallström highlighted a number of Plan D’s key achievements in the 2005-2007 period, notably increased internet debate, increased contact with national parliaments and civil society, increased dissemination of information to European schools and a number of cross-border citizen consultation projects.
“We are now beyond the reflection period,” argued Wallström, noting that the Commission had learned a number of lessons, above all the need to achieve a “more active European citizenship” through consulting and empowering citizens in EU policymaking.
She went on to say that Plan D has helped to “change the perception that the EU debate is too abstract from EU citizens,” adding that it has represented a significant step towards “building an open European public sphere”.
Meanwhile, while responding to questions over whether she would run for the future, high-profile position of EU president, Wallström expressed her disappointment that the Union had not achieved similar progress in promoting gender equality among the European political elite. “Are female politicians invisible?,” she asked.
Wallström told reporters she was not in the running for the position of EU president, although she mentioned a number of well-known females as potential candidates, notably German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former Irish President and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson. In the run-up to the European Parliament elections in 2009, she said, it is “important that political parties have more female candidates”.