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.

A Soul for Europe Konferenz 2017

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), Café - 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 2016 “A Soul for Europe” conference unfolded against the backdrop of the so-called refugee crisis and addressed the challenges facing Europe in that context. Titled "Cultural Identities on the Move", this edition generated recommendations for more robust cooperation between policymakers and civil society in the cities and regions of Europe.

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 Europe

The 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.

2014 marked the first time in the history of the European Union that the European Parliament nominated supranational candidates for the Presidency of the European Commission. The Conference 2014 invited leading representatives of major European political parties to talk about their visions for Europe's future with European artists and intellectuals. In a program titled “1914-2014 – Consequences for the 21stCentury”, the second part of the conference concentrated on the debate over Europe 100 years after the First World War and the potential of culture to shape a Europe of –not a Europe for– Europeans.