On May 5 it finally happened: the first event of the NRW tour of the European Public Sphere took place in Bonn. This time the wooden dome was set up on the Münsterplatz in Bonn's city centre, where a major sporting event in bright sunshine and summery temperatures was taking place. Even though this time members of various organizations and foundations had been specifically invited to the discussions and thus the dome was largely filled by these guests, our intention was still to offer everyone the opportunity to contribute their comments and to discuss them in the public debate.
By Lisa Beisheim.
And as soon as the dome stood, it didn't take long before the space created was used for discussions. It turned out that the wooden construction attracted attention in Bonn as in the previous events and attracted numerous interested parties - among them initially children. But even though the dome was more of a jungle gym and playground for them, they too found answers to the question of how to live together in harmony in the EU. With the words "No one should be angry", a little boy expressed a wish that I am sure many can agree with.
Many citizens associate peace with the EU, which was ultimately the founding motive of the European Union after the Second World War. But during the first dome talk event on "How can the EU become more democratic," it became evident that the current purpose of the EU is no longer so clear. A peacekeeping alliance, economic union and/or the creation of a confederation of states are only examples of possible formations. A unified vision of Europe does not exist today, which raises the questions vividly discussed under the dome: How much Europe do we actually need? What role does the nation state play? Is there a need for a European constitution? To what extent must citizens be involved? The central aspect, however, which was repeatedly mentioned, was ultimately the identification with the EU and the connection of the different identities of the individual. Because only by taking these into account can an essential prerequisite be fulfilled, on which all participants could agree: Europe must become a matter of the heart and the debate on the future of Europe must be emotionalised.
The second dome talk event of the day on the question of how a social Europe can be achieved was also emotional. Among other things, the discussion focused on topics such as the amount and nature of taxes, the correct distribution of financial resources and the concept of the public service economy. The general wish of all participants was to show humanity and promote justice in the EU. However, the interpretation of these terms is very different, which made it difficult to find a common position. Nevertheless, the neutrally moderated discussion went off harmoniously. And later, red roses distributed by an advertising stand at the exit of the dome put a smile on everyone’s faces again.
During the day we were able to collect very interesting and also different, partly contrary views. While some passers-by spontaneously accepted the invitation to participate under the dome, others preferred to share their opinions and suggestions in personal, short conversations or to write on colourful cards. All in all, the event was very well received by Bonn's citizens. The good weather, the positive atmosphere and the numerous constructive contributions made the kick-off event of the NRW tour a complete success!
This article was firstly published on the European Public Sphere Website. There, you can also find other reports about further events.