On 21 August Hévíz hosted the 4th Day of the Four Freedoms in the frame of the project EU3doms. The event gathered a good number of participants coming from different spheres, including local governments, academia and business covering different sectors. Two main topic of the event was, first, to discuss the current challenges and the future of the four freedoms, second, to share good practices and possible hindrances of these freedoms.
During the first section, speakers agreed that the precondition of the realization of each freedom is the principle of non-discrimination. Non-discrimination has to be enforced when it comes to the quality of products sold in different countries of the EU, employment, application to higher education institutions, etc. The entire implementation of each freedom is the precondition of the enforcement of the rest, as well as of economic growth, cohesion, reduction of regional differences.
It is interesting to draw attention on such cases when EU policies might be seen as contradictory to each other, or contradictory to the implementation of the four freedoms. Four instance, as it was highlighted by Bojana Jevtovic representing Belgrade Open School, so far only 25% of SMEs based in EU member states export to other member states, meaning that in their case the free movement of goods, services or capital is still lagging behind. On the other hand, as Stefan Lütgenau representative of Foster Europe argued, we have to bear in mind that the EU supports SMEs offering products for the local markets to cut the food chain as short as possible to reinforce its fight against climate change.
Europe is not only happening in Brussels, but in Hévíz, in Lendava and in Miercurea Ciuc, argued Mr Lütgenau. Thus it is important to make European thinking familiar at local level and debate on the four freedoms publicly. If we are not aware on the functioning of the EU, if one country’s institutional stability is far from the necessary standards and citizens are not familiar with EU programmes, the country is not able to benefit from the EU, cannot absorb the available financial resources, argued Dávid Endre, representative of Harghita County Council.
József Kepli, vice mayor of Hévíz underlined that Hévíz is on the right track: Hévíz is open to any foreign investors, purchasing of real estate is as easy as possible, opening up businesses to offer goods or services are also facilitated for any citizens coming from the EU or beyond.
The second session of the conference aimed to present success stories connected to different aspects of the four freedoms. First, Balázs Horváth shared his experiences from his participation in the Transforming Your City project, which is an Erasmus+ KA3 action aiming to link decision-makers and youngsters on different topics relating to public policies. Violeta Stevovic from the Educational Centre Krusevac spoke from the other side, since she is responsible for making familiar Erasmus + programmes with the young Serbian people. According to her experiences, first, it is important to explain why these programmes worth to be participated for all stakeholders, including the youth, decision-makers, teachers, programme owners. Afterwards, all sides can benefit from these programmes: young people acquire new skills, whereas employers find employees with necessary and marketable skills.
Endre Dávid, as young entrepreneur shared his story on the way he managed to launch his company from EU funds. This revealed that there is still a lot of space for improvement for programming and funding bodies at national level to fulfil their role in developing lagging regions and supporting good ideas in Eastern Member States. Linked to this, Ferenc Horváth, Vice Mayor of Lendava spoke about the city’s story from the last 25 years: they started as a success story, however, constantly have to face a lot of hindrances originating from mistaken policies in the field of youth, family, and education. Lendava realized that a small, bordering region can only be successful if it establishes something which makes it outstanding. Thus, apart from various policy interventions targeting the youth and young families, the city built up the Viminacium, which generates important tourism and also plans to prepare a bid for the European Capital of Culture contest.
The closing accord of the conference was the VLOG presentation: Levente Asperján, pupil of Illyés Gyula Elementary School of Hévíz prepared this vlog by comparing one story related to the four freedoms presented in Miercurea Ciuc with a Hungarian example. This is available here.
Parallel to the conference, pupils and students took part at the EU workshop. For pupils, board game, quiz, drawing, colouring, and station game, for students, Europe in 4 corners, EU decision making with Family Guy was organized to familiarize the younger generation with the EU in a playful way.
Following the conference, EU3doms project partners took part at the Wine Festival in Hévíz transforming it multicultural. In this frame they offered local wine and beer from their regions for the visitors. In parallel an EU booth was installed where visitors could improve their knowledge on the EU by completing a quiz, playing board game, etc. It was interesting to see that more generations were attracted by these programs and became more familiar with the topics on which we aimed to put special focus.