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Building Europe with Local Councillors
News article13 September 2023Directorate-General for Communication1 min read

Belgian BELC member recounts her experience on SOTEU2023 panel

On September 13, 2023, European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen delivered her speech on the State of the European Union (SOTEU). In conjunction with that, various partners in West Flanders organised the event ‘EUkWESTies SOTEU 2023, critically examined’ to reflect on important issues on the European agenda. All panellists invited to this event had listened very carefully to Ms. Von der Leyen’s speech and then they participated in a debate moderated by Professor Steven Van Hecke of KU Leuven who presented them with several questions about SOTEU to which everyone could answer from their own experience and expertise.

Silke Beirens, local councillor from Belgium’s Ostend and as a proud BELC member was the only woman and policy maker on the panel, gave her opinion on climate and environment, migration issues, entrepreneurship and employment and how she experiences the cooperation with and support from the European Union.

Ms. Beirens said that diverse professional backgrounds of the panellists enabled a very interesting conversation. She also noticed that, after analysing SOTEU23, the EU supported projects and programmes they have been implementing in Ostend show much greater ambition than what was covered in SOTEU23 regarding climate, employment and migration. She stated, ‘Cities and towns in Western Europe are growing and changing their public spaces and making their cities climate-resilient thanks to Europe's support.’

The audience in the room had the opportunity to ask questions and they also voiced some concerns around employment and migration to which panellists responded and gave their views on how Europe could start responding to the challenges within these themes.


Publication date
13 September 2023
Directorate-General for Communication
  • Silke Beirens
  • Belgium, Ostend
  • Democracy and public participation