The Hague: Sharing Europe Congress celebrates the 70th anniversary of the European Movement

Every 10 years, the European Movement International and the City of The Hague host the commemoration of the famous 1948 Congress of Europe, which marked the beginning of the European Movement and laid the foundation for the process of European integration. Since the 70th anniversary of The Hague Congress and the European Movement coincides with the European Year of Cultural Heritage, Europa Nostra was proud to be a content partner of the Sharing Europe Congress held in The Hague on 24-25 May. Europa Nostra has also decided to join the European Movement International, thus strengthening the voice of culture and cultural heritage within the wider movement of organisations and networks that promote the European values and ideals. Our organisation was also pleased to contribute to the new Declaration of The Hague, adopted at the Sharing Europe Congress, which includes a paragraph explicitly calling for the promotion of European heritage and identity, while building on our cultural diversity.

Europa Nostra’s Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović and Board Member Astrid Weij attended a special “Sharing Europe” session held on 25 May in the historic Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights). On this occasion,  Europa Nostra made a public statement calling for the Ridderzaal to be nominated for a European Heritage Label due to its symbolic value for the building of Europe.

As the Ceremony was taking place in the historic room where Churchill delivered an inspiring speech on Europe 70 years ago, the young historian Felix Klos shared the story behind “the Spirit of The Hague” with the audience. Then, civic leaders engaged in a lively discussion and a series of captivating cross-generation speakers recalled the importance and relevance of the European project. Eva Maydell, MEP and new President of the European Movement International, called on “Each and everyone one of us, citizens of Europe, when we leave this hall to be even bolder…we need to stand for Europe and share Europe. If this gathering is to do anything, it must be to remind us that Europe is not just institutions or nations, politicians or politics.” Kajsa Ollongren, Dutch Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, shared her personal vision on the Future of Europe: “We too must now dare to look ahead. To the Europe of our children and our grandchildren. We need to decide what kind of Europe we want them to live in. And with that vision of Europe before us, we should take concrete steps to make it a reality.”

During the two-day event ‘Sharing Europe’, citizens, policy-makers, trade unions, civil society and business came together to discuss the main issues facing Europe today, including sustainability, migration, security, labour rights, new economic models and democracy over two days of panel debates and agora sessions. On 24 May, participants engaged in a constructive and interactive dialogue on “Migrations / Movements / Cultures: how to embrace Diversity?”.

The Congress culminated with a networking open-air market/lunch during which citizens shared ideas and stories in a friendly atmosphere, and expressed their love for Europe in an interpretation of a “New Song of Joy” (a ballad composed of existing and newly written poems in every official language in Europe, completed with a chorus in English) contributing to our #Ode2Joy Challenge.

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Background information on the European Heritage Label:
European Heritage Label sites are milestones in the creation of today’s Europe. Spanning from the dawn of civilization to the Europe we see today, these sites celebrate and symbolise European ideals, values, history and integration. Since 2013, these sites have been carefully selected for their symbolic value, the role they have played in the European history and activities they offer that bring the European Union and its citizens closer together. In The Netherlands, 3 sites have been awarded the European Heritage Label: The Peace Palace in The Hague, Camp Westerbork and the Maastricht Treaty.

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