Key Statements from the Online Debate

last updated: 4 September 2017

Dina Čubrić, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Jo Leinen, Silke Gebel, Ulrike Guérot, Rafał Dutkiewicz, Petra Kammerevert, Sabine Verheyen (Photos: private, Rodrigo Fernández, his own, , FKPH)

Searching your way into the Debate? Look no further! On this page we gathered key statements of all our authors to date and linked their articles.

Browse through, leave a like on those you agree with or comment, where you disagree! Or do you think we missed something important? Let us know!

Your A Soul for Europe-Team from Berlin: Christiane, Felix, Julia & Sonja


Volker Hassemer: europe.basic — An Introduction

Europe’s cities and regions and their people have experiences and knowledge that must be mobilised for Europe’s success. Cities and regions have a co-responsibility to develop the EU.

We are more than spectators: we are the owners of Europe. We are responsible. We have to act.


Steve Austen: Cities, Citizens & Culture: the key pillars of European Identity

The civil society must take up the challenge to offer modes of identification, sharing and optimism in the direct surrounding oft the citizens.

More Focus on the role of the citizen […] will support the need for cohesion within the local community.


Dina Čubrić: When binarism is not enough: reframing center and periphery

The question is not what a citizen is, but what a citizen can do!

Culture itself becomes an inclusive field in which citizens do not spectate, but participate.

Cities, citizens and culture are key pillars of modern democracy.

Culture seizes to be property of elites and becomes a public good.


Bernhard Schneider: Europeans of all nations unite!

The European Urban Agenda is long overdue. Its aims, however, cannot be achieved on this one-way track. It cannot be done unless the cities themselves start acting as European players. In the end, the complementary European Agenda of Cities channeling their citizens’ European aspirations and competences will make the difference.


Jo Leinen: Out of the Bubble! Europe’s future is decided in cities and regions

Political unification became possible because European culture and science had already been existing for centuries. Likewise, political unification can neither replace nor force the cultural process without which the European Union would only be a technocratic project.

An agenda by urban areas for Europe can achieve more than any EU programme could ever do.

To build a more democratic, stronger, and more successful Union, we need first and foremost to strengthen its fundament and build a new European consensus.


Sabine Verheyen: European Reinvention through culture and active citizenship

It is crucial, to further develop and reinvent our Union to make it a success story that lasts, taking every single citizen and city with us on this journey.

An element that is often forgotten in the debate is that EU citizens as well as local and regional communities are the foundation of the European Union.

Democracy cannot be “consumed” from home. It is not a one way street.


Rafał Dutkiewicz: Thinking Europe from the basis of culture

Statistically speaking, an engineer who goes to the theater now and then is more creative than an engineer who does not read books. And to create an innovative society, one must be creative, open and international.


Silke Gebel: Europe — A Responsibility for My Generation

To this end, my generation holds a special responsibility: To us, distance has become secondary. We grew up in a Schengen Europe without border controls.

If we in the cities, the smallest entity of democracy, raise our voices, we can become the chorus of Europe!

We need to stand together for an idea that has brought our generation an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity — the European idea.


Hella Dunger-Löper: Affirming one’s history — towards a European identity

The future lies in cities with their economic power, productivity, potential and infrastructure for a knowledge society.

It is only histories that are recognized and felt together and common traditions and experiences that lead to a shared sense of identity and solidarity, closeness, affinity and home.

The responsibilities for the process to be successful involve an interplay between the local and the European.


Juan Gabriel Vásquez: Letter to (and from) Europe

People suddenly see themselves obliged to wave flags and to employ chauvinism so that they can remain in the game during elections. That is a mistake.

Values ​​of the Enlightenment can easily be recognised: they are everything that the religious fanatics try to destroy. They are the secular, tolerant, liberal, open Europe, the Europe of empathy, the Europe that I call humanistic, by which I basically mean: on a human scale.


Petra Kammerevert: Who will assume responsibility in Europe?

What we need is a Europe that stands for its citizens — a Europe that is shaped and experienced directly in communities.

In the medium term, every young European has to have the opportunity, at least once, to participate in one of the ERASMUS+ projects, regardless of the parents’ financial situation.

European citizens have to become more integrated in political processes and also become the focus of European policy.


Ulrike Guérot: The place of citizens in the European project

It is time to discover the place of citizens in the European project and to remember that citizens — not states — are sovereign.

The European citizens urgently need a learning experience to internalize their role as part of a political body.


Maria Skóra, Das Progressive Zentrum: Assuming citizens’ responsibility

Crises can become catalysts for mobilizing citizens for self-help and solidarity.

Europe needs strong social engagement to enhance civil participation in reforming the European project.

There is a good chance that including the citizens in the policy-making process will improve its transparency and rebuild trust in the policy makers’ intentions.


Michaela Kauer: Experiment with potential for renewal

The European Commission has to involve the local level of government in the context of partnership, cities have to let go of their engrained (and often justified) mistrust and become more European, and the member states will have to relinquish powers in both directions, whether they wish to or not.

The EU Urban Agenda must outgrow its project status.


Rüdiger Kruse: The Europe of cities

Cities face similar challenges, regardless of the respective nation. For instance, integration succeeds or fails in cities.

Europe will not be a Europe of cities or of nations; it will have to be a Europe of citizens if it is to enjoy a future.


Julia Hoffmann: What does it take to respond?

“Responsibility” can be read as a connection between “response” and “ability” — the capacity to answer to something.

Civil society is essential for bringing about positive social change in Europe. People in European initiatives are doing their work out of dedication — because they care.


Priya Basil: Too Big to Fail! Time to Bail Out European Civil Society.

Conceived on the premise that closer trading ties between nations would reduce the likelihood of war between them, the EU has never been able to develop as much more than an economic bloc.

If we as citizens want a more imaginative, inspiring Union, if we want different values to guide European politics, if we want the compassion, inclusion and mutual trust, that are the true foundation of togetherness, we have to agitate for it ourselves — even if that’s uncomfortable.


Alexander Damiano Ricci: Cities for Europe: two suggestions and one (big) paradox

Fostering interaction among citizens and among cities becomes key to foster the European integration project

To preserve the EU integration project the administrations of urban areas across Europe might prefer to put aside their international interactions and, instead, give priority to “actions” that foster economic and social cohesion with their rural surroundings.


Levan Khetaguri: The Role of the EU in Georgia

Success for Georgia is equated with its political convergence to Europe and the European Union. It is equated with the assurance of our future development as free citizens.


Sir Graham Watson: A New Congress of Europe

The people of Europe would be happier if they knew what the final destination was likely to be. And perhaps we need a new Congress of Europe to decide that.


Simon Mundy: Forum Aberdeen: ‘My Culture, Your Politics’

Cultural loyalty is claimed as the province of conservative nationalists. In the sense that it is used as a badge of obstruction it is — yet those in the other political groups view their culture with affection and respect too. Valuing the achievements of past generations, supporting the institutions that care for the artefacts and memories of those achievements, and backing the cultural activity of the present, is a positive virtue in any society.


Satu Kuitunen: “My Culture, Your Politics” Introduction, Self-Reflection and Questions

Freedom and mobility derived from the EU is deeply engrained in who I am. Therefore, being in the EU and sharing our culture and politics across the nation blocs, is something very natural to me.

I urge all of you to think about the tools that each of us possess and try to ‘walk a mile in each other’s shoes’ before jumping into a debate.