On 28 June 2016 German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, together with the German Federal Minister of State for Europe, Michael Roth, officially launched the DIALOGUE ON EUROPE-project at the Europasaal of the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. Dimitris Maragos, member of the Board of BBB and Anna Bairaktaris, BBB volunteer, represented the Organization in the opening conference. The next day Dimitris took part at the Thinking Labs, subgroup of Social Cohesion, organized by “Das Progressive Zentrum”, a German Think Tank.
At this occasion leading European intellectuals such as Prof. Brendan Simms (University of Cambridge), Dr. Nathalie Tocci (Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome) and Prof. Henrik Enderlein(Jaques-Delors-Institut Berlin), Thanos Dokos (ELIAMEP, Athens), Marina Costa Lobo (Institute of Public Policy, Lisbon), Marta Romero de la Cruz (Fundación Alternativas, Madrid) addressed the fundamental overall question in front of 250 represantatives from NGOs, thinktanks, academia, culture, media from all over Europe: Where do we stand after the BREXIT vote and how do we get back on track again? The panel discussion was chaired by Dr. Gregor Peter Schmitz (WirtschaftsWoche, Berlin).
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, discussed on a panel withJeremy Cliffe (The Economist, London) and 5 next generation thinkers from Greece, Italy, France, Portugal and Spain about Rethinking Europe. The presented visions included new ideas about migration as seen from the perspective of a transit country, freedom as a key to re-building Europe during crises, diversity as Europe’s untapped resource, education as renewal of EU´s social contract as well as social mobility. „What we need is the courage not to get absorbed by a mood of crisis. Now more than ever“, Steinmeier insisted, “Europe needs fresh and forward-looking ideas from the civil society!”.
Michael Roth, German Minister of State for Europe, underlined in his speech that Europe “is too important to leave it to the responsibility of politicians only. We need the courage to develop and share ideas – across national, institutional, political, sectoral boundaries. And we need a new spirit. Therefore we want to bring together key actors from civil society“.
Dominic Schwickert, director of Das Progressive Zentrum, concluded: „Not only the populists from the disintergrative camp are responsible for the current crises. But also the unwillingness of the integrative camp to stand up together endangers the whole idea of the European integration process as well. We have to fight for our ideas of an open, integrative and innovative Europe. This is the reason why we initiated the DIALOGUE ON EUROPE-project“.
The conference was followed by a reception including a cultural-political talk on Europe between Michael Roth and the Austrian writer Robert Menasse. Menasse: „In contrast to the founding fathers of Europe we haven´t learnt to think within the category of disruptive change and beyond the limit of eras. We have to completely re-invent democracy by developing a new supranational form of democracy.
“DIALOGUE ON EUROPE has been initiated by Das Progressive Zentrum, in cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office. The project´s four key topics are Migration & Integration, Sustainable Growth, Populism and Social Cohesion. In the project´s first, bilateral phase Town Hall Meetings with more than 400 young representatives of civil society have taken place in Athens, Lisbon, Rome and Marseille and Madrid within last 6 months. With the Opening Conference the DIALOGUE ON EUROPE entered now its second, multilateral phase.