Civil society leaders of twenty EU networks have renewed calls for a bottom-up building-site, and free-standing and spontaneously organised events modelled on the world famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival to mobilise EU citizens ahead of the Future of Europe Conference.
The Conference on the Future of Europe is one of the top priorities of the new Commission chaired by Ursula von der Leyen and is due to start in 2020 and run for two years. Formal arrangements are currently under discussion by the EU institutions.
Civil society representatives have discussed in Milan how a “European Fringe Festival” would allow citizens to occupy the “spaces in between” whatever consultative processes and citizens dialogues emerge from the inter-institutional negotiations.
Taking up an idea of Raymond Van Ermen (European Partners for the Environment) and Tillmann Löser (Peaceful Revolution Foundation), the conference should be preceded by a Common Declaration of Europeans written by European Nobel Laureates and Youth Movements, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration and offering a vision of an EU of the 21st century that implements the SDGs by 2030.
On May 9th, 2020, the Presidents of all the EU Institutions should open the Conference to address the transformation of the EU, drawing inspiration from the Common Declaration.
The Milan meeting was organised by the Italian Platform of the European Movement and chaired by its President Pier Virgilio Dastoli. Closing the meeting, Mr Dastoli said:
“The proposal for a European Fringe Festival to run in parallel with the Conference is a powerful one. As the EP starts to consider how best to approach the organisation of the Future of Europe Conference, our message is clear: by working on the fringes of politics, civil society will energise proceedings and transform the prospects for a successful outcome”.
Prominent civil rights campaigner Roger Casale (Secretary General, New Europeans), who proposed the idea of a “European Fringe Festival”, said:
“Like Edinburgh’s Fringe festival which has become the dominant and influential voice of the arts world, we should occupy the fringe of EU politics ahead of the Future of Europe Conference. We have a unique opportunity to understand and crowd-source ideas about what needs to be done within Europe and how we can make change the course of the EU building a stronger, united and more resilient Europe”
Dominik Kirchdorfer, (President, European Future Forum) said:
“A European Fringe Festival would galvanise the power of civil society and transform the Future of Europe Conference into an event focused on citizens. We promote active citizenship so it’s natural we now take action and push forward our own ideas for the future of Europe before the Institutions invite us to do so.”