A Soul for Europe  Pre-Conference 2016


A Soul for Europe mobilises citizens and democratic institutions across Europe, fostering a sense of responsibility for the future of Europe and democracy through culture. It is our goal to connect communities in order to build a common European public space and a culture of proactive citizenship. Our annual A Soul for Europe Conference in Berlin is a meeting place for elected, dedicated, experienced, analytic, critical and enthusiastic stakeholders from all over Europe.


For the first time in 2016, an online debate preceding the conference was launched to prepare the conference topics and to expand the discussions by giving those who could not attend the main conference event in November a chance to contribute their ideas. Having been opened with an article by Bernhard Schneider (“Our Europe”), the pre-conference debate gathered an impressive number of high-profile contributors. Experts from the fields of politics, political science, culture and civic engagement shared their thoughts on how a sense of responsibility for the future of Europe and democracy through culture could be fostered at medium.com/asoulforeurope. Readers were able to comment on all texts and add their own thoughts and proposals, and impulses from the pre-conference were presented to the conference’s panelists and participants in November. 


Please find a collection of excerpts from the articles below:


Dieter Kosslick, Director of the Berlin International Film Festival
“The soul of Europe is its many million citizens. And since it’s impossible to look into the soul of each and every person, an ingenious catalyst and filter called Culture helps to us get to know, understand and above all bring together Europe with all its languages, passions, peculiarities, faults, corners, scents, pitfalls, subtleties and feuds.”
From the text “Understanding Europe

Lord Puttnam, politician and former film producer
“I’m convinced it’s the split between the young and old that’s likely to prove the most serious.”
From the text “Brexit, A Tragic Legacy

Wim Wenders, filmmaker and President of the European Film Academy
“Let’s start putting Europe into the hands of its users and not leave it up to politicians or governments! […] Of course, they need to be involved. But the great gesture needed right now is to put responsibilities into other hands! […] Let youth organisations run with the European idea and give them funds to do it. Let football clubs accept their part in the European idea. Let museums and festivals (of the arts, of music, of films, of architecture, of literature, of operas) show their audience that their future is under a European roof.”
From the text “Three Crucial Questions About Europe

Ulrike Guérot, political scientist
“A nation state is not the only frame for a democracy. It is what the EU’s founding fathers had in mind in postwar Europe: a real post-national democracy”
From the text “European Republic Needed

István Szabó, filmmaker
“The soul of the European Union will only then be reborn, only then become the soul of us all, once the European Union can provide a real, achievable future vision which takes differences into consideration.”
From the text “A Soul for Europe

György Konrád, novelist and essayist
“As well as the elected and the appointed, the invited should be given a significant role on the stage of European decision-making so that public opinion will be able to follow the dialogue between politicians and independent intellectuals with greater engagement.”
From the text “No Culture No Europe

Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, President of Goethe-Institut
“Civil society has to exert more influence and promote social responsibility and participatory behaviour. Europe needs to again be a continent of acceptance, of respect and of discourse.”
From the text “The Brexit


Read the articles of the pre-conference: