As every year, Transeuropa Festival is grounded in the contemporary global and European context and organised by activists from throughout the continent.
In perhaps no previous year has the context seemed more apposite for a festival promoting democracy, equality and culture beyond the nation state and an alternative idea of Europe.
These ideas and ideals of Europe are being threatened at a political level in several dimensions. Yet, where there is crisis, there is also opportunity and responsibility.
Crises and mobilisations
The political response to the economic crisis has revealed many of Europe’s weaknesses, and instead of confronting and overcoming them, many of the political decisions have exacerbated them. Democratic processes are under threat from the new paradigm of austerity, the acceptance and submission to the rules of an economic system that created the crisis and increased inequalities and poverty. The Fiscal Compact creates decision making processes parallel to those of the European institutions, in which the economically strongest voices dominate and in which there is no guarantee that the common interest of Europeans is defended. In Greece and in Italy, technical governments whose agendas have been reformulated under the direct supervision of the European Central Bank have replaced the elected ones. The opportunity of using the economic crisis to relaunch the European economy in a more just, equal and ecologically sustainable way and turning it into an example of solidarity and humanity rather than a ‘risk factor’ for the financial markets, is being completely missed.
The political response to the crisis in some parts of Europe is strongly linked to the increased support for populism and nationalism in other parts. A striking example thereof is the new Hungarian government, which has undone many of the achievements in rights and liberties of the last 20 years in that country. Policies of exclusion extending throughout Europe, such as those against the Roma and the migrants, are of similar nature.
In a year which should have marked the major launch of a common European foreign policy, Europe revealed its worse contradictions with its founding principles and often seemed a hypocritical former power scared and disorientated by the changes it faced. The complicit power relations of some member states with dictatorships in the Southern Mediterranean were in contradiction with Europe’s claims for universal human rights and recalled the colonial era; Europe’s closing of its borders to migrants from Tunisia and Egypt in stark contrast with its principle of freedom of movement. Europe even began to refuse the application of this principle to its own citizens, by closing borders between European countries and beginning the renegotiation of the conditions of application of the Schengen treaty, thereby beginning to undermine some of the bases of European citizenship.
In this gloomy perspective, the possibility to rethink forms of organization and mobilization have manifested themselves thanks to the grassroots citizen’s led movements, which sprung from a different part of the world to call for more participatory forms of democracy and governance. The overthrown of the dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, and uprisings in the Arab world became the example to follow for many European and western movements, who recognized parallel narratives in these events and felt stimulated to start collective action and challenge what they see as inequalities, lack of respect of the rule of law, and non-democratic practices in Europe and the USA. Europe and the rest of the world witnessed and welcomed a ‘migration’ of ideas and practices from these countries. It is now urgent to understand how we can work together to settle and strengthen democracy both inside countries and across borders.
3 main themes for 2012, throughout and beyond Europe
During the festival, these three themes will be explored through a series of linked practices, events and discourses all of high quality, which you can discover along these pages in the general calendar and the cities programmes.
A transnational walk, taking place simultaneously in all the cities, will open the festival. Then, each of the themes will be explored in each city and in dialogue with the others through various forms – panel discussions, performances, video screenings and forums, or other kind of activities such as ‘living libraries’. During the closing forum in Rome, the ways of maintaining the existence of this shared transnational openspace, after its ephemeral momentum in the festival, will be explored.
Join the public mobilisation for an alternative Europe
Transeuropa Festival is a form of collective public response to short and long term challenges facing European societies. It is an attempt to draw on the potential offered by transnationalism and by a certain idea of Europe and to create a common space in which alternative proposals can emerge, take shape, and be followed up with action. It is participatory, democratic and diverse by its design and principles, and is an ongoing project to recreate Europe. You are invited to join in physically, virtually, creatively and intellectually with this project and to participate in this transnational Festival of European alternatives.