Towards a Europe of Citizens
An event in the framework of the Berlin Conference 2012
Europe finds itself in deep crisis. European cities and citizens cannot ignore this any longer and need to act. Due to this, the initiative “A Soul for Europe” invited mayors, artists, cultural actors and active citizens to a conference at the Berlin town hall on 9 November 2012. The aim was to discuss in what way the cities can contribute to the creation of a “Europe of citizens”.
The conference was conducted in cooperation with the City of Berlin, the City of Guimarães, European Capital of Culture 2012, and the Federal Agency for Civic Education. One major concern was to change the direction of recent debates about Europe: the emphasis was not to enquire what the institutions could do for the citizens, but instead we wanted to find out how each citizen can contribute to the creation of a common Europe within his or her own city.
During the conference diverse projects and interesting initiatives from different European cities presented themselves. These clearly portrayed how Europe is experienced in different cities and how important it is to use culture as a tool for the creation of a “Europe of citizens”. Furthermore, they underlined how significant it is to win cities and regions as partner for this undertaking. Only if the cities manage to face the recent challenges will the European project be successful. Many encouraging examples can also be found in the initiative’s manual on “Cities and Regions: Their Cultural Responsibility for Europe and how they can fulfill it”.
The signing of the Berlin Declaration “Cities for Europe” was a declaration of the participants to not just commit to Europe, but at the same time to engage themselves for a vivid, colourful and diverse Europe. Thus, they also show that they want to take the initiative in their own city and to support other European projects.
The first ones to sign the declaration were Michael Müller, Mayor of Berlin and Senator for Urban Development, Jo Leinen, MEP and President if the European Movement International, Werner Spec, Lord Mayor of the City of Ludwigsburg, Francisca Abreu, Cultural Councilor of the City of Guimarães, Krzysztof Soska, Deputy Mayor of the City of Szczecin, Volker Hassemer, Senator (ret.) and President of the Board of Managers of the E.E.I.G. ASfE, and Brigitte Russ-Scherer, Lord Mayor (ret.) of the City of Tübingen, amongst many others.