The European project has been profoundly progressive since its very beginning. European integration was not only our founding impetus, but also remains the guiding principle of our political work. We are convinced that only a strong European Union will ensure the peaceful coexistence of European nations and guarantee the ability of European states to act in an age of globalisation. Our projects at European level are strengthening an open-minded, social and sustainable Europe and developing impulses and ideas for the further development of the European project in the times of its biggest crisis so far.
Recent change of government in Poland mobilised many people, the spectrum of civil engagement is however polarised: from defenders of liberal values and adherents of conservative agenda to followers of nationalist resentments.
Brendan Simms in the New Statesman Magazine about possible trajectories of the European Union after the Brexit.
Representatives of civil society and academics from Poland, Germany and other European countries joined a Polish-German seminar in Wroclaw on 20-21 October in search for answers to the question of what role civil society plays at the political scene in Europe today. It seems that nowadays the notion of Europe has been undermined by an economic crisis, followed by a humanitarian one, resulting from inability to handle of the influx of refugees in Europe. Fundamental European values are questioned. European political culture is currently in need of a new approach and civil engagement. It seems, however, that the notion of “civil society” needs redefinition per se to support European democracies. Radical and populist movements win popularity in many European countries, posing a threat to democratic order. Is the democratic order in danger? Is the pluralist political culture of Europe sustainable?
The DIALOGUE ON EUROPE can look back on more than six months of fruitful discussions throughout Europe. The international dialogue process with partners from France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain started with a successful kick-off meeting in June with the German Minister for Foreign Affairs in Berlin. Pursuing this debate, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier has today also initiated a series of Town Hall Meetings within Germany. In this spirit of concentrating our ideas and focus on Europe, we are happy to announce the launch of our new platform on which we will feature the ideas and the results of the DIALOGUE ON EUROPE process.
The development of Poland since the EU accession in 2004 was often seen as a pioneering example for the recent history of the European integration, sending an important political signal for a common European future. In particular, Germany and Poland strove in numerous bilateral initiatives not only to develop closer political cooperation, but also to intensify their cultural exchange.
On 7-9 October 2016, Das Progressive Zentrum joined the third edition of the Cluny Forum as a cooperation partner. Created three years ago by the French-German Association “Trait d’Union”, this Forum creates new bridges between young and innovative managers from business as well as from the civil society working in one or both countries. Gathered together, they exchange experiences about their own working environment, discuss common challenges and design new ideas in a European perspective.
Hungary is commonly portrayed as one of the most Eurosceptic countries in the European Union. Paradoxically, however, the Hungarian public has by and large a positive image of the EU. How can this be explained? And how is the current refugee crisis affecting the EU-Hungarian relations?
On 23 and 24 September 2016, the European Reformists Summit entitled „Rebuilding Trust“ took place in Lyon. The event, being composed of an introductory roundtable, three workshops and a closing session, was organised by a European network of think tanks, consisting of Das Progressive Zentrum (Germany), Les Gracques (France), Institut Montaigne (France), Astrid (Italy) as well as Policy Network (UK).
Two weeks before British citizens go to the polls, our third roundtable on the Brexit referendum took place. Our key questions concerned current British debates, the latest developments in British politics at the eve of the referendum, as well as British, German, and European perspectives on how to proceed after this – in any case – decisive moment for Europe.
After successful Town Hall Meetings in Athens, Lisbon, Rome and Marseilles the fifth and last event within the Dialogue on Europe took place in Madrid, on 16 June 2016. Once again representatives from civil society, NGOs, local initiatives, startups, think tanks, the cultural sector and from the media gathered to discuss the most pressing challenges Spain and Europe are currently facing and exchanged ideas about how to work towards a strengthened and progressive Europe.
On 17 May 2016, Michael Kellner, political General Secretary of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, discussed with Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales (live via Skype), about European achievements and the perspective of a potential withdraw of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Matt Hanley, Berlin-based Green Party member from the UK, presented the debate at Das Progressive Zentrum.
With the British referendum around the corner Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales (live from London), and Michael Kellner, political General Secretary of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (on site), discuss a possible withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on Tuesday 17th May 2016 at Das Progressive Zentrum.
The first stops of our Dialogue on Europe in Athens and Lisbon were now followed up by a Town Hall Meeting in Rome on 5 April 2016. Once again, we invited representatives from civil society, NGOs, local initiatives, startups, think tanks, the cultural sector and from the media to gather and discuss the most urgent challenges Italy and Europe have to face presently, such as the reduction of youth unemployment or the refugee crisis.
In October 2015 the Civic Platform (PO) lost the parliamentary elections in Poland, after having been in power for 8 continuous years. The tables have turned, allowing the national-conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) to form a majority government. Ever since, the PiS – which has president Andrzej Duda already on their side – keeps on petrifying its power while promising “good change”.
After its successful start in Athens, the “Dialogue on Europe” made its second stop in Lisbon, where the second #EuropeanTownHall Meeting took place on 7 March 2016.
In the context of the current refugee crisis the relationship between the Eastern and Western EU member states has become strained. In her contribution, Maria Skóra analyzes Central and Eastern European reactions to the refugee crisis. As conservative nationalism spiced with right-wing populism is on the rise in Central-Eastern Europe, the prospects for coordinated European immigration policies look very grim, indeed.
The recent Polish and French elections are especially topical and worrying reminders of the current rise of right-wing populist parties all over Europe. To debate this urgent European problem, Das Progressive Zentrum, with support of the German Federal Ministry of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, organised an international roundtable, which took place on December 16, 2015 in Berlin.
On December 7, the opening event of our project “Dialogue on Europe” took place in Athens. Multipliers from Greek civil society came together to participate in workshops on common challenges in Europe, and to discuss these with Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office.
The evening of the 16th of November 2015 saw the official launch of “TruLies Europe”, a joint project of the Institute for European Politics (IEP) and Das Progressive Zentrum. In the Berlin offices of the Stiftung Mercator, the project’s patron, the Minister of State for Europe in the German Federal Foreign Office, Michael Roth MdB, held a keynote address for some 100 invited guests. His speech was made in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Paris.
On the 10th of November Claudia Chwalisz’s book “The Populist Signal” was presented and discussed in the offices of Das Progressive Zentrum. The event took place in the context of the “TruLies: The Truth about Lies about Europe” project. Claudia Chwalisz advocates that democratic innovation as the answer to growing populism.