Dortmund | Every two years Church Day puts the city under its spell. More than 100,000 people of all ages, religions and backgrounds come together to reflect and discuss on the issues of our time. Of course, the European Public Sphere was also involved! A report by Jörg Eichenauer from Mehr Demokratie NRW e.V.
From June 20 until 22 June, the city of Dortmund was the place to be! We also presented an intensive three-day long program covering a wide range of topics. In our Europe Dome, we held daily talks that were visited by both regular Kirchentag-attendees and European Members of Parliament (MEPs), members of the German Bundestag, and representatives of civil society organizations.
Our diverse program was as follows:
Thursday 20 June 2019
+ Gernot Reipen from the Network for Basic Income: Digitisation, Democracy and Basic Income
+ Marco Bülow, independent Bundestag member: Democracy and Lobbying – which rules do we need for credible politics?
Axel Voss under the Europe Dome
‘’The other thing is the local problems. Of course, there will always be the argument that it doesn’t matter what we do in Germany. That we represent just a fraction of the world (…). But setting a good example does change something. If Europe can create a picture of what is possible in terms of climate-friendly living, we could show the world that it is possible to build an eco-friendly economy.’’
Friday 21 June 2019
+ Axel Voss, MEP, CDU: EU copyright reform
Saturday 22 June 2019
+ Karl-Martin Hentschel, Federal Executive Board member of Mehr Demokratie: Rethinking Europe – ideas for democratizing the EU
+ Members of Fridays for Future: Climate change, climate protection – what it takes to save the world
+ Sven Giegold, MEP, Alliance 90/The Greens: Can Europe take on more democracy?
Most days were accompanied by summer-like weather, but even the rain could not temper the desire for discussion and conversation. When it started to rain during Marco Bülow’s talk on democracy and lobbying, participants huddled together, put up their umbrellas, and continued the debate!
Axel Voss’ (MEP) get-together with young people on the topic of EU copyright reform was also really exciting. Already in advance we sensed the great interest. We saw many surprised looks and heard statements like “Wow, HE is coming” as soon as passers-by found out the chief negotiator from the European Parliament was to take a seat under our ‘’Europe Dome’’.
The next day, many of the young people showed up again, well-informed and well-prepared. And the great, exciting, happy ending of the story: Even after finishing the official Dome Talk the discussion continued for another 1,5 hours.
Youth and political disenchantment… There was definitely no sign of this during our events. A member of Fridays for Future was our guest for the talk on Climate Change.
Europe at the centre of attention
The clarity, the self-confidence and the knowledge these young people – sometimes no older than 14 years – showed while making their case was impressive! We were happy to be part of the discussion!
During our meeting on basic income a wide range of opinions was presented. This really stimulated the discussion – in which all participants demonstrated mutual respect for differing ideas. We received a nice compliment from a CDU councilwoman: ‘’I have enjoyed this round of talks precisely because of the diversity of opinions. We seem to have lost this in our culture of conversation and dialogue. We should leave our own bubbles filled with like-minded people to recuperate this culture!’’
In between our “big talks” in the Europe Dome, there were also many small talks between 2, 3, or 4 participants. One of these conversations even resulted in an invitation to another event in Hildesheim for the European Public Sphere. More about this in another blog post!
In conclusion: we are very much looking forward to Church Day 2021!