The Panel “Rebuilding Civil Society in Times of European Crisis”

June 17, 2016 marked the 25th anniversary of the Treaty of Good Neighbourship and Friendly Cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland. This agreement not only provided a framework for political dialogue between the countries, but fostered also cooperation between the societies. Private initiatives organizing town twinning arrangements, voluntary services or student exchange had paved the way for German-Polish rapprochement after the Second World War. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, the governments of both countries endorsed these efforts by institutionalizing transnational cooperation. The establishment of the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, partner of our panel, facilitated more than 15.000 Polish-German projects until today. The Polish-German Youth Office, celebrating their 25th anniversary as well, made it possible for 2.7 million young Poles and Germans to better get to know their neighbors. Especially in times in which a cascade of crises in Europe sparks political tensions, stable foundations of transnational and transborder cooperation prove their inestimable value. The panel „Rebuilding Civil Society in Times of European Crisis” will discuss the role of civil society in shaping the European Union as well as contemporary challenges for European civil-society cooperation. Can Europe be rescued from the bottom-up?

In his role as the Polish Coordinator of German Polish Intersocietal and Cross Border Cooperation, Secretary of State Jakub Skiba will present us his thoughts on transnational cooperation in today’s Europe in a key note speech.

The following panel discussion will be moderated by Benjamin Zeeb, CEO of the Project for Democratic Union, the other partner of our debate. Among the remarkable set of participants we welcome Boguslaw Sonik, deputy of the Polish Sejm, possessing political experience on the local, the national as well as on the European level. Cornelius Ochmann, Managing Director of the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, and Ole Jantschek, Chairman of the Board of the Kreisau-Initiative, represent the sphere of Polish-German cooperation. Few are as experienced in promoting civic engagement as Krzysztof Stanowski, Executive Director of the Solidarity Fund PL, the Polish agency for the support of democracy, and Jeremy Druker, who oversees Transitions, both a magazine and a platform promoting press freedom in the formerly communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. We are very glad that the scholars Pedro Gois, Research Professor at Coimbra University, Portugal, and Francesca Traldi, Scientifc Advisor at Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Italy, will help to broaden the scope of the debate.

Partners: Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation and Project for Democratic Union