On Friday November 29th 2013, Felix Meritis hosted the annual Amsterdam Conversation. In 2013, the meeting looked at the future of Europe and sinking trust in our democratic infrastructure. The meeting contained day and evening segments and video highlights of both can be found below.
Is Europe beginning to doubt its values? Does the continuous erosion of trust in our democratic infrastructure require that we define new values or should we ask ourselves whether we actually practise the values we preach? These fundamental questions are very often avoided in the debate on Europe, but the discussion cannot be delayed any more.
A lot has been said and written about the European Union: its crisis which some argue is actually part of a global transition, its democratic deficit, the banking union, and the federal Europe versus a less Europe and more national sovereignity argument. However, all we read, watch and hear is focussed on practical and technical – often short-term – issues instead of on visions about what kind future we want for Europe. Much is discussed in terms of functionality, yet little is discussed in terms of purpose, value and vision.
The Amsterdam Conversation is an annual event dedicated to serious, far-reaching discussions on crucial, contemporary issues affecting Europe and our societies. This year’s event coincides with the last days of the European year of Citizens 2013 and it aims to stimulate a serious debate about Europe’s future in the run-up to the European parliamentary elections in May 2014. This time the focus was on questions such as: how can we overcome the growing loss of trust in our democratic infrastructure and what sort of Europe do we want to see in the future?
The event was opened with a lecture by Ivan Krastev (political scientist and author of the TED book In Mistrust We Trust), who shed light on the causes and effects of the current loss of trust, not only in Europe, but throughout the world.
Ivan Krastev’s lecture was followed by a discussion with Kathrin Deventer, Secretary General of the European Festival Association and an open debate with the public.
Afterwards there were four hands on workshops, in which the participants were invited to actively discuss, reflect and prepare for action on various aspects of citizenship at the local, national and European level. Other speakers during the day programme were Hugo De Greef, Nynke Tromp, Josien Pieterse, Mieke van Heesewijk, Niklas Wilhelmsson and Bruno Kaufmann
For more information on the workshops in the day programme click here.
This public debate featured Paul Scheffer (writer and professor of European Studies at Tilburg University) and Robert Menasse (writer and author of the book Der Europäische Landbote [The European Courier] recently translated into Dutch as De Europese Koerier). They shared their visions and analysed them together with the public in an open discussion. Paul Scheffer also presented an essay specifically written for 2013’s Amsterdam Conversation.
Markha Valenta (Radboud University Nijmegen)
Felix Meritis, A Soul for Europe, Time to Talk, DIA – Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam, European House for Culture, Stiftung Zukunft Berlin, The Amsterdam-Maastricht Summer University and the partners of the Cultural Coalition for a Citizens’ Europe.
The Amsterdam Conversations on Europe 2013 is financially supported by the Europe for Citizens programme of the EU, the vfonds and the Bosch Foundation.