Vienna (A), 9 May 2012
9 May is Europe Day. It is on the 9th of May 1950 that Robert Schuman proposed to create a democratic and peaceful Europe, paving the way to European integration. But no integration, no peaceful relations would be possible without ensuring that equal opportunities for all are in place.
62 years later, we can only regret that equality has not fully come into reality. Despite some progress, the list of potential discrimination is unfortunately still long, from people with disabilities, to integration of minorities or gender equality. This is the reason why the Assembly of European Regions (AER) organised, in the City of Vienna, known for having high anti-discrimination standards, a conference on ‘Equality for all’. Hande Özsan Bozatli, President of AER’s Committee ‘Culture, Education, Youth and International cooperation’, Monica Carlsson, President of AER’s standing Committee ‘Equal opportunities’ and Olov Oskarsson, President of AER’s Youth Regional Network welcomed 80 politicians, experts and young people to share their experience on inequalities and discriminations.
After a session dedicated to sharing good practices introduced by the City of Vienna (A), the Regions of Dolnoslaskie (PL), Jönköping (S), Norrbotten (S) and Wallonie (B), participants came to the conclusion that their duty is twofold. On one hand, they ask for progressive legislation to be introduced throughout Europe and first and foremost to find an agreement on the European directive on anti-discrimination. On the other hand, they recognize that legislation is not enough: indeed, even if a number of charters and laws already exist, they mean nothing without citizens’ buy-in. AER members are therefore determined to fight those two battles back home, and to keep everyone’s minds open.
Mrs Özsan Bozatli took the opportunity to have a meeting with the Austrian Secretary of State for Integration, Mr Sebastian Kurz. “I was particularly interested by the fact that Austrian immigration action plan aims at associating regions and cities in its integration policy. The examples of good practices we heard during our meeting and the Austrian policy confirm that if we want to bring social inclusion into reality, we have to make it everyone’s business.” she stated.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 250 regions from 35 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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