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.