In 2004, the „Berliner Konferenz“, marked the beginning of a bottom-up dialogue between representatives from the spheres of politics and civil society. That dialogue aimed at integrating culture as an asset and creative force in the process of European integration, on all levels of political action and decision-making. The conferences have continued on a regular basis ever since.
The A Soul for Europe initiative grew out of those conferences. With its decentralized working structure, “A Soul for Europe” has been feeding locally grown projects and activities between civil society, politics and culture for years now. The name references former EU Commission President Jacques Delors' exclamation that “Il nous faut donner une âme à l'Europe!” (We have to give Europe a soul!) In 2016, the Berlin Conference was renamed to match the initiative. Each A Soul for Europe conference reacts creatively to the latest challenges confronting Europe and formulates concrete suggestions for stronger collaboration between politics and civil society in European cities and regions.
Over the years, A Soul for Europe has won many supporters, partners and backers through its work: With the support of leading European politicians, it brings scholars, cultural representatives, politicians, economic experts and decision-makers from all areas of society into contact at its conference and makes space for participatory discussions on culture as a component of European politics. Visions of a culturally open Europe consistently come out of those conversations.
The Allianz Cultural Foundation has been backing this project since its inception. In 2014, the European Parliament became the official patron of the A Soul for Europe Conference. The Stiftung Zukunft Berlin is the seat of the Berlin office of the pan-European initiative and has been legally responsible for the A Soul for Europe Conference since 2006.
With various contributions and workshops, the A Soul for Europe Conference 2017 has lived up to the topic "Who is assuming responsibility for Europe? How citizens, cities and parliaments have to cooperate for the future of Europe." The opening event discussed statements of representatives from each level of political responsibility: Emil Boc (Mayor of Cluj-Napoca), Elmar Brok (MEP), Karl-Heinz Lambertz (President European Committee of the Regions), Gerry Woop (State Secretary for European Affairs, City of Berlin) and Juan Gabriel Vásquez (writer). At the central event in Radialsystem V the question was on the agenda, how the responsibility and possibilities of the direct participation of European citizens in the European project can be strengthened. Conference visitors took part in parallel workshops on Cities and Urban Change, Europe From the Bottom-Up and Arts & Politics - A Good Match? Part. At the EUROPEAN MARKETPLACE, selected civil society projects also showed how active communities and individual citizens can assume their responsibility for Europe.
The event and workshops were organized in cooperation with Actors of Urban Change, Advocate Europe, Allianz Kulturstiftung, Centre for Fine Arts of Brussels (BOZAR), Cafébabel.com - The European Magazine, eurotopics, Felix Meritis Foundation, GRAD – Center of Culture and Debate Belgrad, Das Progressive Zentrum, Goethe Institut, Image Aiguë , internationales literaturfestival berlin (ilb), King’s College London, Stichting Caucasus Foundation, Theater an der Parkaue.
The conference kicked off with discussions between researchers, politicians active at either the local or European level and NGO representatives on the subject of new urban and regional responsibilities toward Europe. Participants presented strategies and projects from their cities. At the “Marketplace Europe” event, guests got a chance to meet and get to know civil society initiatives working toward a socially inclusive and culturally open EuropeThe second segment of the conference featured round table discussions on the topics Art and Culture in Europe, Migration and Europe “From Below”.
The Conference 2015 focused on the growing significance of cities in building a European civil society and –considering the present situation– in the acceptance and integration of immigrants and refugees. The conference invited citizens' initiatives, refugee initiatives and mayors from various European cities to come together and report on their practical experiences on the ground.
Workshop Introduction to the topic "How Can Cities and Citizens Strengthen Europe?" by Brigitte Russ-Scherer of Cities for Europe.
"A Soul for Europe" Conference, Allianz Forum, Berlin 2017
Welcoming Remarks by Andreas Bock, Member of the A Soul for Europe Strategy Group.
"A Soul for Europe" Conference, RADIALSYSTEM V, Berlin 2017
Participants of a workshop at the "A Soul for Europe" Conference 2017
“Europa eine Seele geben” (2014)
initiated by "A Soul for Europe"
The workshops fell into one of three thematic tracks "Cities and Urban Change", "Europe From the Bottom-Up" and "Arts & Politics – A Good Match? "
"A Soul for Europe" Conference 2017
Introduction by Rita Süssmuth to the panel discussion "Flight and Migration: The New European Divide" with Dessy Gavrilova, Aleš Šteger, Rita Süssmuth, Dejan Ubović; moderated by Gemma Pörzgen.
"A Soul for Europe" Conference, Allianz Forum, Berlin 2016.
Panel discussion "Starting From The Bottom-up" with Ulrike Guérot, Jon Worth, Rumena Bužarovska, Lorenzo Marsili, Maria Badia i Cutchet, Allianz Forum Berlin 2016.
15-Minutes discussion with Beral Madra, Allianz Forum Berlin 2016.
In "15 Minutes Of Conversation With" speakers of the conference and other committed Europeans shared their practices,tools and reflections with the audience. A session to create a space for participants to learn,share and exchange inspiring experiences and ideas in small groups. With Cornelius Adebahr, Hubertus von Amelunxen, Enrique Barón Crespo, Rumena Bužarovska, Paul Dujardin, Rose Fenton, Ulrike Guérot, Beral Madra, Jagoda Marinić, Paul Spies and Hannes Swoboda.