Which Europe for Germany?
Germany’s president, citizens, and foundations debate at the Bellevue Forum
Berlin, April 20, 2013 - Together with the Mercator Foundation, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and the Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe, Germany’s president Joachim Gauck held the "I Want Europe - and to Play a Role Shaping It" Bellevue Forum. During the day-long citizens’ conference, around 100 ambassadors of the "I Want Europe" campaign developed ideas for a Europe that will remain viable over the long term.
Over 800 German citizens participated by submitting a personal statement as an ambassador of the "I Want Europe" campaign. Last year the Committed Europeans, a group of 11 German foundations, promoted Europe’s values and accomplishments in the media and online using these statements. President Joachim Gauck was the campaign’s patron.
The Bellevue Forum "I Want Europe - and to Play a Role Shaping It" picks up where the campaign left off and seizes ideas from the campaign’s citizens. It offers them a forum to work together to develop their ideas for a Europe that is viable over the long term and to discuss these ideas at Schloss Bellevue. Joachim Gauck greeted the participants by stating, "The idea of democracy, freedom, and prosperity in Europe is so great, so all-embracing, and so precious, that shaping this idea cannot be allowed to be left only to parliaments or governments. Democracy is also shaped in the worlds of business, science, and civil society. And it ultimately becomes a reality in the numerous citizens’ initiatives, and in the participation of the citizens to whom it pertains, who should not resign themselves to the status quo, but, for their own good, should get involved in the debate about the future of their continent."
Within the scope of the main question "Which Europe do we want?", the participants worked in discussion groups developing concrete suggestions pertaining to six different areas such as "living and working," "education and research," and "business and finance" in Europe. The participants come from all over Germany. "Enthusiasm for the European idea still currently depends much too heavily on money and education. We need to change that in order to build the ‘European House,’" said Max van Bahlen from Mannheim. "I have several suggestions for how to achieve this goal, like establishing a foreign office at schools or a European youth organization modeled on the German-French youth council." Germany’s president joined in the discussion in the afternoon to listen to the citizens’ concerns.
The citizen ambassadors are motivated to participate for various reasons: "I wanted to contribute my ideas, get involved, not just stand on the sidelines, but actually do something," said 20-year-old Amanda Bajramovski from Essen. The foundations want to pick up on ideas and results from the conference and incorporate them into existing and future projects.
About the Bellevue Forum: The Bellevue Forum is a place where arguments meet, are discussed and considered, and where new arguments may be born. The president opens up Bellevue Palace for arguments - the pros and the cons. It is also a place where the different perspectives of the European idea need to be debated. The idea of democracy, freedom, and prosperity in Europe is too important for its citizens to be left only to parliaments, government, business, and science. The citizens should also become involved in the debate about the future of their continent. The Bellevue Forum is a place where citizens can play a role in shaping their Europe.