Dear friends and colleagues,
In May 2011, we started a media cooperation agreement with "The European" – an online magazine for debates. So far, five articles by members of the "A Soul for Europe" Strategy Group have been published on topics relevant to our work and the daily European debate. We would now like to share these articles with you.
At the moment, the European Union has primarily drawn the public's attention due to the problems arising from the financial crisis. But there is more to Europe than the euro! These articles show that, for us, structural problems do not call into question the legitimacy of the overall idea, even if there are areas that need improvement. In some of these areas, "A Soul for Europe" acts alongside its partners from civil society, politics, business, arts and the media to ensure the success of the European integration process – using both culture and the involvement of citizens:
Europe needs its citizens. Mobilising every single individual to assume responsibility for a "Europe of citizens" is a task that is both in the hands and in the direct interest of our political decision-makers. Europe's cultural diversity and the power of its cultural activity are invaluable resources and should form the very basis of this engagement between Europe and its citizens. >> "Why European citizenship needs a cultural component" by Kathrin Deventer.
Is the European dream still alive? In a recent Eurobarometer survey, 39 percent of Europeans stated that their respective countries did not gain advantages from EU membership. In addition to the currency crisis, we are also faced with a communication crisis. >> "The Image of Europe, or How to Win Back our Continent" by Gabriella Gönczy.
In order to achieve a Europe with greater cohesion between its people, we need to take into account the role that culture can play. After all, economic benefits alone have failed to sufficiently engage people. >> "How Europe profits from culture" by Mahir Namur.
European culture resides in its cities and regions. The incalculable wealth of their cultural substance and the diversity of their values need to be appreciated not just from a local, regional or national perspective, but should also be seen as resources that can drive the process of European integration. >> "Think European, Act Locally" by Vânia Rodrigues.
The idea of a "European Capital of Culture" holds much promise. But to make the concept work, it needs to be focused on people and local cultural projects, not politics. After all, it is ultimately the city that is special, not its political management. >> "Democratise Our Capitals of Culture" by Rariţa Zbranca.
We are very much looking forward to the next article by Jan Runge on "Mobilizing Culture for Structural Development", which will be published on 1 August and will be the last article in this series for the time being. We thank Strategy Group member Andres Bock for coordinating and editing this series and Ben Schofield for the proofreading.
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The Strategy Group was set up and its work made possible with ongoing financial support from the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
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