Luxembourg – Naturally Celebrating Diversity

by | 19. May 2019

Luxembourg|Our second stop in Luxembourg, and also the final stop of the BeNeLux-Tour, took place in Luxembourg City. There, we built our dome on the Place de Clairefontaine, in close walking distance from many of the city’s sights, like the Palace, the Parliament Building, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Our intern Helene Paul reports back from the events.

As usual, we got there quite early to start the build-up and be ready in time for our discussions at noon. We were lucky to be able to drive onto the square with our van which prevented us from having to carry the wooden beams too far. With help from Gerhard, one of the organizers of the European Public Sphere from IG Eurovision, and Alfred, a local from the Initiativ fir Demokratie-Erweiderung, everything went smoothly. Gerhard, who usually travels with the other Dome with a different system now could experience the screwdriver again and was a great help, especially after the build-up in Schengen the day before took us a bit longer.

Once the Dome stood proudly, right next to the Monument of the Great Duchess, we even had a bit of time to spare and it was time for a quick breakfast, or rather lunch. For that, we went to the Chocolate House, also a well-known spot to get great Belgian and French chocolate. Already brainstorming about the talks to come, we used the time to recharge our batteries with delicious salads and quiche.

Participants of the first Dome Talk

For example Italy and Germany and concerning policies starting with family policies but also other things makes you think about how nice it would be if it was still easier to move between European countries. Because of course we already have a lot of freedoms but there’s still a lot of things that are very different between different countries. And to change systems to go from one country to one another, which we have obviously all done (note by the author: referring to herself and her husband) still could be a lot easier.

Participant under the Dome

European Public Sphere

The first talk then began right on time, at 12:30. To our excitement, a team of RTL showed up after Alfred had told them about our project and had taken interest in the event. They filmed a bit of the talks and interviewed Anne, our main organizer of the project. To find the interview, you can visit “Publications” on our website, where it is listed under TV: “RTL (19 May 2019 | Stop: Luxemburg): En Doum fir Europa an der Stad.”

The first talk was held on ecology. The main debate then revolved around the question how we could advance current climate politics. Should we trust the representative system and exert pressure in that direction or try to increase direct democracy to tackle current challenges? The discussion thereby also touched upon questions of a “climate dictatorship”, the call for a climate emergency, petitions focused on climate issues, and the Fridays For Future protests. 

It was especially interesting to hear the different country experiences. One example being a Russian couple who definitely saw critical points within climate and environmental issues but also balanced it out with a rather positive note, outlining how global warming could be benefiting their country. All in all, we at one point had people from Poland, Russia, Greece, Portugal, Luxembourg, Austria and Germany under Dome, a great visualization of our aim to build a European Public Sphere. This was also facilitated by the fact that more than 40 percent of the population in Luxembourg is from abroad.

After the talk, we used our break to keep talking to an interested young man from Greece. He was very engaged in the first discussion and planning to stick around for the second talk as well. 

Video of the Dome Talks in Luxembourg

He even offered to help us take down the Dome later which gladly accepted, since Gerhard now had to leave, and we were down a helping hand. During the break we also further talked to people outside the Dome, all of them curious about what we are doing here. One man from France saw that we previously talked about ecology and was very passionate about (plastic) waste problems. 

We got into a great discussion about it and invited him to stay for our second talk. Despite keeping the discussion alive, he was still very reluctant to join the actual talks. After a few people came in to sit down for the second round, the French man was also willing to stay for a bit.

With that, our second talk started. The topic was smaller states within the EU. The discussion took off with everyone shedding light on their experience of how their country integrates and is placed in the EU-system. This evolved into a question of EU-projects and investments, especially in Greece and Portugal, where the two people mainly debating this came from. 

The second Dome Talk in Luxembourg

Since we also had a German-Italian couple with their child under the dome, with one of them working in culture, questions were also raised on what it means to be European, and if there is a European identity. 

Their status as parents then also allowed for a quick debate on family policies in different EU-countries and how the Schengen Treaty allows them to freely decide where to grow their family. They further noted, that the easy travel between countries within the EU also facilitated their relationship and the visits to their respective families.

All in all, our talks in Luxembourg once again proved how diverse and equally interesting the different voices and opinions of European citizens are. Even though it was hard to get people to join the talks, those who did contributed immensely to our debates and were happy to divulge personal experiences. As promised, the building of the Europe Dome created a European Public Sphere and a diverse space for open debate and positive communication. Having been part of its build-up and the general execution of the event, I am proud and happy of the outcome, making Europe better – or at least more thoroughly discussed – one voice at a time.

Video of the 5 Dome Talks in the Netherlands

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Some impressions from our Dome Event: