How can cities contribute to the strengthening of Europe? How can cities fight borders and prejudice? And how can citizens be filled with enthusiasm for the European Union and go into action against right-wing populist and anti-European movements? These were the central questions of the keynotes, workshops and discussions.
Mrs. Hella Dunger-Löper, Former State Secretary for European Affairs of Berlin, welcomed the participants of the conference and pointed out the importance of the cities in the heart of Europe. Richard Kühnel held the engagement of the European Civil society presented by the projects in high regard and referred to the not negligible conflicts in the neighboring European countries. Introduced was the conference by the inauguration speech by Prof. Dr. Oliver Jens Schmitt of the University of Vienna about the “Cultural division of Europe”. He referred to the division of the western and eastern countries of Europe as well as the differences between an “inner” (the member states of the European Union) and an “outer” Europe (Turkey, Russia).
The main focus of the conference was placed on the exchange between politics, culture and civil society on a local and an European level. Furthermore the presentation and the exchange of project examples and strategies in the European practice should be emphasized. The “Marketplace Europe” presented 21 successful projects and promising approaches out of the most different municipalities of Europe in an exhibition in the rotunda of the Allianz Forum. The projects were given the possibility to outline their approaches, aims und successes with posters and videos. During the three workshops all the participants were encouraged to come together in conversation in small groups. The diverse conference formats providing many opportunities for interaction were very positively received by the conference participants. Most initiatives and active citizens especially used the opportunity to network.