Voice of Europe's citizens must be heard

22/10/2007

Regional assemblies and parliaments such as Scotland’s have an important role to play in representing the voice of the individual in Europe’s policy making process.

This was the message from the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP to the Presidents and Presiding Officers of European regional and sub-state parliaments at a conference in Berlin today.

The Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE) takes place at an important time in the European integration process and is Mr Fergusson’s first international engagement since becoming Presiding Officer in May 2007.

In a debate held this morning, Mr Fergusson called on the EU Commission to recognise the vital role of regional parliaments as the voice of the citizen.

Mr Fergusson said:

"Individual citizens do not always feel their voice is being heard in the EU policy making process.

"It is important that the EU Commission works in partnership with bodies like CALRE to ensure that the individual views of citizens across Europe are at the heart of their policy making process.”

While at the conference Mr Fergusson will meet the leaders of assemblies and parliaments from Bavaria, Catalonia and the Basque country.

He will also be meeting with Peter Straub, President of CALRE and President of the Landtag (state parliament) of Baden-Wurttemberg.

The conference, which is taking place in the Berlin House of Representatives, runs from 21 – 23 October.

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