2. Cooperation between citizens and the political realm
Europe, that’s us – the residents of cities and villages. This is why it is so important to us that we visit the people in precisely these cities and villages and foster dialogue with politicians and decision makers there. At first glance, Brussels and the EU often appear to be far away, which means that it is initially a big step for some of us to actually occupy ourselves with the subject.
In the middle of Europe
The fact that ‘Europe’ is closer than many of us think is something we tried to demonstrate over the past two years by means of various activities and initiatives. Indeed, most citizens are usually already engaging in a number of activities relating to Europe without even knowing it. By inviting representatives of different initiatives to our open discussion groups (Open Space Europe), we are able to bring Brussels a little bit closer. However, even though volunteer initiatives can significantly raise people’s awareness for the European project, this alone doesn’t lead to the direct implementation of legislative changes. For this reason, we constantly make sure that EU politicians with mandates from specific cities, states or at the European level are in attendance at our events, so as to enable a dialogue between citizens and the political sphere.
Involve citizens in political discussions
We also build a bridge between civil society and the political sphere by means of the annual State of Europe Speech in Berlin and the Humboldt Lectures on Europe, which take place several times a year. For example, at the last two State of Europe Speeches, we took the opportunity to present speakers – European Parliament Chairman Antonio Tajani and European Court of Justice President Koen Lenaerts – with questions that had been formulated in advance by school students from Berlin. The Humboldt Lectures on Europe are usually supplemented by group discussions with the audience as well as by questions posed via social media. This approach allows us to communicate to politicians in key positions precisely those issues that people at the base are thinking about. And, if possible, we usually prefer to do this together with numerous active citizens.