On May 9, 2005 the Information Office of the European Parliament for Austria and the Representation of the European Commission in Austria invited to a Festival on the occasion of Europe Day in the Ferstl Palais in Vienna. The motto for this event ran as follows: Europe for all - all for Europe.
At the beginning students of the integration class of the KMS Herthergasse (Vienna) presented their views of Europe in several languages. They had won the Austrian competition of Spring Day 2005 with this presentation. After this lively beginning, Michael Reinprecht (head of the Information Office of the European Parliament for Austria) and Karl-Georg Doutlik, head of the Representation of the European Commission in Austria welcomed the audience and presented the guests of honour: Ursula Plassnik (Minister for Foreign Affairs, Austria) Wolfgang Schüssel (Prime Minister, Austria ), Jan Figél (EU-Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism, Slovakia) and Richard Corbett (MEP, United Kingdom).
The panel discussion was moderated by the actor and author Miguel Herz-Kestranek. During the preparation of the event, he had asked the guests of honour for introductory statements, which he now presented to the audience. The following discussion made clear, that we are all sitting in the same boat - or as Richard Corbett said: on the same bus, which has grown from a minibus before May 1, 2004 to a full size bus since the elargement. Students of the HTL Wiener Neustadt expressed partly positive views of Europe, but partly they also showed some scriticism and pessimism. In the course of Spring Day in Europe 2005 and the 50th anniversary of the signature of the Austrian State Treaty they had discussed the future of Europe with ambassadors and deputy ambassadors from five neighbouring countries (Germany,
Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) in the course of a number of events at their school. The motto for these discussions was "Peace in and supported by Europe". All guests of honour pointed out, that national consciousness on the one side and European consciousness on the other side need not be contradictory to each other. Jan Figél even stressed the importance of preserving cultural diversity.
To the students' concern that Brussels makes to many rules and does not involve the citizens enough in its decisions, Prime Minister Schüssel replied that we should experience Europe with less fear and more cheerfulness. Finally, Miguel Herz-Kestranek asked the guests of honour for a short final statement. Ursula Plassnik, argued, that we still need mor confidence in the future of Europe;
Richard Corbett pointed out, that although rules are made in Brussels, but that it is also essential, that the member countries accept these rules democratically; Jan Figél expressed his hope, that 60 years after World War II and one year after the EU enlargement, we will strive for an enlargement of responsibilities; Prime Minister Schüssel compared the State Treaty of 1955, which made Austria free and independent, with the Treaty for a new EU Constitution: while the State Treaty made Austria free from the occupying forces, the new EU Constitution will make the country free for European appearance and European visions.
The mund.ART quintett wien topped off the event with variations of the European Anthem.
Here you can read an article on the festival which was published on May 10, 2005 in the daily newspaper Der Standard.
© Dr. Susanne Pratscher