On 9 May, 27 selected ‘Cafés d’Europe’ will enable citizens to get a sense of Europe’s cultural diversity and to air views on the EU project.
The Austrian EU Presidency has set itself the objective of engaging in a more intensive dialogue with the citizens of the Union. Under its auspices and the patronage of the Institute of the Regions of Europe (Salzburg), a European-wide initiative for the general public – ‘Cafés d’Europe’ – will simultaneously take place in all EU capitals, plus Sofia and Bucharest on the occasion of Europe Day 2006.
At the origin of the initiative lies the now widespread conviction that “the best way to develop an affinity for, and interest in, Europe is by discovering for oneself Europe’s emotional and cultural diversity,” as Austrian State Secretary Hans Winkler, puts it.
The idea is that Europe should not only stand for politics, directives and regulations, but above all for a common heritage that is worth being shared. A symbol of this ‘European touch,’ coffeehouses are particularly well-suited for communication and literary exchanges – hence the idea of locating debate on Europe’s multicultural identity on this 9 May in these institutions.
From Vienna’s Café Central to the Brussels’ Falstaff via Les Deux Magots (Paris), just to quote a few, famous European writers (like Vaclav Havel in Prague or Timothy Garton Ash in London) will invite citizens to hear about their work and to write their own personal “story of Europe.” Individual contributions to the discussions will be compiled and published later on.