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‘Celebration of Freedom’ opens the State of Europe Forum 2016

For centuries, Amsterdam has been seen as a city of freedom. On Sunday 8 May, freedom will be celebrated at the official opening of the two-day State of Europe Forum. This annual forum brings together politicians, religious leaders, educators, academics, media specialists, activists and many other parties with a stake in the future of Europe.

De bevrijding van Utrecht door Canadese militairen

Source: Nationaal Archief (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The forum has been held since 2011 and is pan-European, multi-faith and multidisciplinary. It evaluates Robert Schuman’s vision of Europe as a ‘community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian values’.

The paradox of freedom

The main theme of this year’s forum is ‘the paradox of freedom’, focusing on the need for boundaries and restrictions on freedom. Without values, morals and vigilance, freedom can quickly disappear. The forum will examine urgent challenges like the refugee crisis, the economic crisis, emerging nationalism, terrorism and the threat of Brexit. It will also address issues like the environment, the family and marriage, human trafficking, and security.

Varied programme

The main theme, the paradox of freedom, will be discussed during a plenary meeting. There will also be lectures, audiovisual presentations and short TED-style talks. Musical entertainment will be provided by an African choir from city churches and a jazz combo.

Guest speakers

The main guest speaker at the plenary meeting on Sunday evening will be Dr Jonathan Chaplin of the University of Cambridge. He will address the question: ‘How can we change the EU so that it genuinely becomes an open institution, accessible to the whole population of Europe?’. Professor Prabhu Guptara will talk about the freedom of the free market, and Professor Julian Lindley-French will discuss East-West tensions and threats to our security. Europe plays a major role in this respect, but Prof. Lindley-French does not see a European army as the solution.

See the forum website for the complete programme and more information on the speakers.

The Schuman Declaration

This English-language forum is organised annually in the capital city of the country that holds the presidency of the EU. It takes place around 9 May, to commemorate the date in 1950 on which the Schuman Declaration was presented. In the declaration, Robert Schuman proposed the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, the first step towards a united Europe, only five years after the end of the Second World War.

According to forum organiser Jeff Fountain of the Schuman Centre for European Studies, ‘this little-known story’ was ‘the defining moment of post-war Europe’. He explains that it led to the reconstruction of Western Europe after the Second World War, which later contributed to the fall of Communism in the East.

For more information, see www.stateofeuropeforum.eu.

The forum is organised jointly with the Christian Political Foundation for Europe (www.cpfe.eu).