Giving politicians food for thought
Exchange across national borders: Two women and one man talk about their hopes for the EU citizens’ forum.
The Conference on the Future of Europe brings people together from all over the EU. At citizens’ forums, they jointly discuss their ideas, wishes and expectations. Kirsten Kistner, Felix Weber and Nina Hermann are among those who will be taking part in a forum on the EU‘s role in the world and on migration in mid-October 2021. They told us what this means to them.
Kirsten Kistner (60) lives in Tübingen and works in continuing education. For her, taking part in the EU citizens’ forum reawakens memories of the first time she voted:
“The first European elections in 1979 were the first time I was allowed to vote. As a pupil representative, I had also been invited ahead of the elections to attend an event for young voters in Strasbourg. That made a great impression on me, and it’s also why I feel a strong personal connection to the EU citizens’ forum that I will be attending in Strasbourg.
I generally think that such forums are a great way for citizens to have their say. I am looking forward to engaging in exchange with the other participants. All of us talk a lot about one another, but not so much with one another. I am very interested for example to hear the views of people from the Eastern European countries.
In my opinion, the most important thing during such forums, or indeed at citizens’ councils in Germany, is to listen to each other. This allows politicians to discover what is on people’s minds and what fears they have. This doesn’t mean that the topics should be flogged to death, however, and nor should the political processes be paralysed by civic engagement. We have elected representatives to take the political decisions.”
Felix Weber (33) lives in Essen and works at a bank in Düsseldorf. He is looking forward to meeting people from all over Europe:
“I had never heard of the conference when I was telephoned at random. At first I was sceptical and needed to find out what it was all about. When I realised that it was a serious offer, I registered my interest – and am now very happy to be taking part. I find it really exciting that I will be coming to Strasbourg, one of the EU’s political centres, and will be able to express my opinions there.
It was pure coincidence that the citizens’ forum would be about the EU’s role in the world and about migration. I am however entirely content with these topics. As far as the question of migration is concerned, I believe that Europe should not shut its borders. After all, Europe and Germany are doing very well.
I find such citizens’ forums extremely valuable. However, there is no point if there is nothing but a lot of talk and hot air. I really hope that we will have some concrete results by the end of the event. And I hope that I will meet many different people from other countries in Strasbourg.”
Nina Hermann (18) is training to be a nurse in Heidelberg. She is hoping for food for thought for politicians:
“I am super looking forward to the EU citizens’ forum because I will meet new people and can share ideas and views with them. I am also very interested in politics in general. I am keen to discuss the future of Europe now. It is clear at the current time in nursing how important the forum topic of migration is, as many nurses in Germany come from other countries.
I think it is generally important for more people to get involved. Ordinary citizens can also provide politicians with food for thought, so it should be much easier to contribute one’s ideas.”