Annual Conference of European Local Councils in Vienna

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: April 9, 2024; 23:38 ♦ (Vindobona)

In the magnificent setting of the Austrian National Library located at the Hofburg, leading political players, including Austrian Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Austrian Minister for Europe Karoline Edtstadler, gathered for the conference marking the annual meeting of the European Community Councils.

Vienna hosted the annual meeting of the European Community Councils at the Austrian National Library. / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Florian Schrötter

This momentous event, deeply embedded in the motto "Our Europe. Our Choice.", provided a unique opportunity to discuss and celebrate the profound interconnectedness of the European Union with the local levels of its Member States.

At a time when Europe is at a turning point in the face of global challenges and internal tensions, the conference put the spotlight on the central role of municipalities as the foundation of democratic and European values. Chancellor Nehammer opened the event with an impassioned speech in which he described municipalities as the "nuclei of democracy" and emphasized the importance of historical awareness in shaping a hopeful European future. He cited the founding fathers of the European Union, Konrad Adenauer, and Charles de Gaulle, as sources of inspiration for today's efforts to preserve peace and stability on the continent.

Europe Minister Edtstadler picked up on this thread and emphasized that "Europe begins in the community". Her words were a tribute to the commitment of the European local councilors who work tirelessly to anchor the European idea in their communities and make it visible. She also paid tribute to EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who acts as a bridge between Austrian concerns and the EU level.

Against the backdrop of the upcoming European elections in June 2024, the conference became a critical forum to strengthen the link between European ambitions and local realities. The 30th anniversary of Austria's accession to the EU provided an opportunity to reflect on the journey the country has taken since then and the role that courageous local leaders have played in promoting European integration.

The Chancellor also addressed the issue of competitiveness, which he saw as crucial to the future viability of the Union. He emphasized the need to make the EU more competitive and innovation-friendly in the face of global market conditions. This perspective reflected the conviction that the European Union can only play a leading role in the world by adapting and actively shaping its policies.

The conference also served as a forum for a lively debate on the key issues of the upcoming European elections, with a panel discussion featuring leading Austrian politicians. This discussion highlighted the pressing issues at the heart of the European agenda and offered insights into the different visions for the future of the Union.

At the end of the event, Nehammer and Edtstadler emphasized the indispensable role of the local level in the European project. The European Union, they emphasized, will only have a prosperous future if its diversity is recognized and used as a strength and if local actors are strengthened in their decisive role in communicating and implementing European values.

The annual conference of European local councils in Vienna thus not only highlighted the importance of the local dimension for Europe but also emphasized the need to strengthen the local dimension.

but also emphasized the need to revitalize the European idea through commitment, dialogue, and concrete measures at all levels. It sent a strong signal about the importance of the upcoming European elections and the role that every individual plays in shaping the future of our continent.

Chancellery of Austria

European Local Councils