European Ambassadors visit UWE

Issue date: 25 March 2009

University of the West of England Bristol's achievements and challenges come under the spotlight on 26 March 2009 as three of the UK's top European diplomats visit the city and come to the University of the West of England for a specially organised debate.

While in Bristol, Britain's Ambassador to Italy Edward Chaplin; Ambassador to Portugal Alex Ellis and Ambassador to Finland Valerie Caton will be shown how European Union funding has helped projects that tackle climate change and provide employment in the city. They will also hear the views of local students, residents and businesses and meet Bristol City Council leaders.

Their visit to Bristol starts with a panel debate at UWE where the Ambassadors will discuss the question: “With the breakdown of the global economy, should the EU look more to itself, rather than East or West?” National, EU and international students along with staff will take part in the debate.

Rosie Gilmour, (the Centre for Intercultural Communication, UWE) said, “This is a very topical subject in the current economic climate which is affecting every country in Europe in some way. I am delighted that the Ambassadors are coming to listen to the students' views. It is a fantastic opportunity for the students, particularly those interested in European matters and in International Relations, to be able to debate this with them'.

Welcoming the ambassadors to Bristol, Cllr Barbara Janke, Leader of Bristol City Council, said: "We are very pleased to welcome three of the UK's leading diplomats to Bristol and are looking forward to sharing with them the enormous contribution that the city makes to the British economy and our work to protect the environment and promote sustainability. As well as outlining our many successes and achievements, we will also help the ambassadors to understand the massive challenges that Britain's cities face in today's economic climate - and the enormous amount of work that still needs to be done if Bristol and other UK cities are to match the very best in Europe."

After visiting UWE the ambassadors will have a working lunch at Bordeaux Quay restaurant in Bristol's harbourside where invited guests will be welcomed by Lord Mayor Cllr Christopher Davies and Cllr Janke. At the lunch, the ambassadors will meet a number of leading businesses from the city's innovative environmental technologies sector. A round table discussion will explore the impact of the recession on the 'green' agenda and look at Bristol's plans to secure and invest EU structural funds and the next steps following Bristol's success in being the UK's only city to be shortlisted for European Green Capital.

The day continues with a visit to Knowle West Media Centre – including a discussion about how EU Objective 2 money has been invested in Bristol and how EU project funding is supporting Bristol's e-democracy and webcasting programmes.

The visit concludes with short tour of the city's new £500 million Cabot Circus retail and leisure destination with a particular focus on its environmentally friendly design including natural ventilation, low energy lighting and 'rainwater harvesting' water supply.

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