Rethinking Europe

Report and recording of the “Rethinking Europe” conversations, for which I designed the programme with Nele Hertling, Kathrin Deventer and Zane Ester Gruteman.

Stiftung Zukunft Berlin and the civil society initiatives A Soul for Europe, Wir sind Europa (We are Europe) and Cities for Europe once again organised the 2022 Berlin Conference, which was titled “Co-Creating Europe from the Bottom Up!” and took place at the Allianz Forum Berlin, next to the Brandenburg Gate.

On November 8 and 9, the public discussions in Berlin brought together representatives from civil society, the arts and culture, and politics to discuss the importance of the bottom-up approach for the future of Europe from different perspectives.

On November 8, a discussion about the responsibility of cities and regions and their citizens for the success of the European project and its future kicked off the conference. On November 9, we first discussed the role of cultural workers and artists for a more humane Europe. Afterwards we focused on the bottom-up approach and the network platform “Europe Bottom-Up”. This digital action and cooperation platform brings together committed people who see themselves as actors “from below” for a communal Europe. The event traditionally concluded with “The State of Europe Speech”, which this year was given by the President of the European Investment Bank, Werner Hoyer.


9 November 22, 9:30-12:30

Moderation: Farid Tabarki, researcher and writer, A Soul for Europe and Andreas Bock, European Council on Foreign Relations, A Soul for Europe

We are living in a drastically changing world: a threatening time, a wake-up call for Europe, its citizens, and institutions. The actual situation is demanding for rethinking duties and responsibilities. As this goes for the societies as a whole, it surely is challenging the cultural sector. It becomes even more important than before to foster artistic activities and cultural work across borders as a strong tool against antidemocratic tendencies, against desperation and destruction.

A Soul for Europe calls on artists, cultural and political practitioners as well as intellectuals to reflect on our common responsibility and to take an active role in the creation of a prosperous and human Europe, a citizens’ Europe.

The invited speakers will be asked to share their experiences, proposals and visions, starting with three basic topics: „East/West“, „Youth/Citizenship“, "Periphery/Cross-Border“. The different political, social and cultural developments in eastern and western Europe, the missing interest from the West for the East have become more visible with the war in Ukraine. Was there, or is there really a European identity? What is the view from 'outside' Europe?

Although we see strong initiatives in a young generation as for climate change or other threatening developments, we also realize a growing percentage of young people turning to more conservative issues, or of not caring for social/political developments at all. How can this generation and citizens in general be encouraged to take responsibility to get active for the development of their cities, regions countries, Europe? The war in our neighbourhood has also changed the notion of periphery. Regions as the Baltic States or at the Polish - Czech - German border are now in the centre of European awareness. How can cross-border activities react?

Summary Other documents

Rethinking Europe 1: East-West

Introduction Dejan Ubovic, Grad Cultural Center, Belgrade

  • Rarita Zbranca, Programme Director Cluj Cultural Centre

  • Haris Pasovic, theatre director

  • Yuriy Vulkovsky, former Deputy Minister of Culture of Bulgaria

Rethinking Europe 2: Youth, Citizenship

Introduction by Mahir Namur, cultural manager, Dozent, psyc. Counselor

  • Robert Piaskowski, Plenipotentiary of the Mayor of Krakow for culture

  • Ada Mukhina, artist and theatre-maker

  • Rusudan Petviashvili, artist

Rethinking Europe 3: Periphery, Cross-border

Introduction by Miguel Angel Martin Ramos, Head of European Affairs and Brussels Delegation, European Academy of Yuste Foundation

  • Aiva Rozenberga, Public Relations Adviser to the President of Latvia

  • Arkadi Zaides, choreographer and visual artist

  • Matilde Seabra, Head of education and public programmes at the Department for Contemporary Art – Porto City Hall

© Nicolas Bertrand