Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings. (Elie Wiesel, Romanian-US American Nobel Peace Prize laureate)
It is this spark of hope that was ignited through the vibrant and diverse interventions during the EESC's 'Civil society for a rEUnaissance' event on 21 February. Several hundred participants with very different backgrounds, EESC members and other members of European civil society, joined voices to propose suggestions for the "Future of Europe", ahead of the meeting of European Heads of State in Sibiu on May 9th and the 2019 European elections.
The title of the conference was chosen to deliberately refer to the need for a second European Renaissance. The need for a vast humanistic revolution, bringing together culture, science, the art of government and the organisation of economic and social life. Similarly to its humanist ideals, we need to once again empower citizens to act as protagonists of their lives.
The conference put into practice the need to re-install a culture of listening, to better understand others' positions. We must raise the 'voices of the good', as Sergio Mattarella, President of Italy, said recently. We must listen to the people whose hopes and opinions are drowned out by the incessant violence of populist rallying cries. The majority whose constant, daily efforts to improve their lives and those of their communities do not make it to the headlines of the tabloids.
This increasing polarisation and negativity in our societies, which is starting to tarnish also European-level politics, needs to be counteracted: Instead of being violently against- let us be passionately for something. It is our obligation, in these challenging times, to propose positive visions and constructive, inclusive solutions.
Let us be passionately for Europe.
I am thrilled that the outcomes of this conference present a positive and intricate plea for the future, allowing us to dream of a re-energised, diverse and united Europe.
Co-President of the Liaison Group