OpenForum Brussels: Mobilising Europe

European elections without European topics – why is it so hard to polarise on a European level?

This was the main topic of our opening discussion in OpenForum 7 in Brussels on 12 to 15 February. Representatives of political parties and media gave us an insight of their professional experience in order to start the very next day a lively debate among an interesting group of participants, gathered from across Europe (Italy, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Belarus, Turkey). During our workshops participants first presented their ideas on what would be their main slogan and topics if they were to campaign for the European elections and on the next rounds we tried to link our personal experiences in international projects with the “project” of European elections.

To which extend are there truly European campaigns rather than combined national ones? What are the major obstacles in the formation and propagation of European approaches? How do media manage or fail to reach the people? And how do initiatives work which address European topics – where do they succeed, where do they fail? The definition of European Union and european identity raised once more during the discussions and we discovered similarities and differences in the way core issues like these, but also democracy itself perceived within each country.

Our visit to the European Parliament gave us the opportunity to feel for a while the everyday life of an EMP and the one at SPE headquarters showed us how a big European party is structured and which strategies are used to reach citizens in national and european level. The interesting guided tour across the modern and medieval part of Brussels let us explore the context within european heart is beating. The event was closed with a selective screening of Citizens of Europe short film festival “MyEurope 2009” and the award giving ceremony to the director Ismet Ergün, who was the audience award winner for this year.