Within the conference „A Soul for Europe 2017“ the initiative „Cities for Europe“ organized one part of the program in which they examined the question by what actions cities are able to enhance Europe’s strength. The following issues were discussed: How are different political levels – locally, nationally, continentally – dealing with their responsibility for Europe? What contributions are citizens able to make and how could one activate them to participate?The conference started with an opening statement from Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Author) and Karl-Heinz Lambertz (President of the Committee of the Regions), showcasing the discrepancy from an artistic and cultural point with a political view. Juan Gabriel Vásquez made an appeal to use social media as an instrument to shape Europe’s narrative, whereas Karl-Heinz Lambertz focused on the mutual benefit of cities and regions and the European Union: As the EU has an impact on cities and regions, so should the cities and regions have an influence on the EU.
Following the keynotes, an open debate on the topic “How can cities and citizens strengthen Europe?” took place which led to a discussion between members of the civil society (Urzula Bertin, Pulse of Europe), local politicians (Michael Cramer, MdEP), Karl-Heinz Lambertz (Committee of the Regions) and cultural representatives (Søren Schumann, rbb/arte). This talk was moderated by speakers of the initiative Brigitte Russ-Scherer (former Mayor of Tübingen) and Hella Dunger-Löper (former State Secretary for European Affairs, City of Berlin).
Beside the dialogue between politic, culture and civil society on a local and on a European level was another main focus the presentation and exchange of best-practice strategies for projects on a European level. “Marketplace Europe” was an exhibition on partition walls of 33 successful projects and approaches from different European cities and municipalities. These projects were given the opportunity to show their approaches, goals and achievement on posters and as films on one of four visual display units. Project representatives informed in one-to-one conversations about their projects. The participants used this opportunity, to exchange ideas and information about their work.