16 June 2020

EU 2020: the Goethe-Institut’s European commitment to German EU council presidency

The Federal Republic of Germany will take on the EU Council Presidency on 1 July and initiate a European cultural programme with the focus on the European public sphere and European solidarity. The Goethe-Institut’s contribution to the cultural programme of the Federal government focuses on the questions: What will constitute Europe going forward and how can Europeans achieve cohesion even in the time of the coronavirus? The Goethe-Institut’s Europe-wide discourse and art projects are dedicated to the diversity of Europe and the creation of a common European public sphere – whether through a generational dialogue about Europe, in debates about the influence of artificial intelligence, or about the state of freedom, by developing climate-neutral travel schemes, or eye-catching installations in European cities.

On the upcoming launch of Germany’s EU Council Presidency, the President of the Goethe-Institut Klaus-Dieter Lehmann said, “In the middle of Europe, with nine immediate neighbours, for the EU Council Presidency Germany is called upon in a special way to act not only economically but to assume responsibility for a common European cultural region. Europe is the creative foundation of the Goethe-Institut. Its initiatives and projects for Europe are characterised by the freedom of art and culture, the ability to discuss and act with solidarity with one another. The political and cultural power of culture and the opportunity to understand how we live together as a cultural achievement are particularly evident during the coronavirus crisis with its tendencies towards isolation, racism, disinformation, and exclusion.”

For the German EU Council Presidency, the Goethe-Institut is fortifying its previous European engagement with a series of Europe-wide projects carried out in collaboration with its partners in the EU member states.

Johannes Ebert, Secretary-General of the Goethe-Institut, stressed, “Especially while the European Community is severely impacted by the effects of Covid-19 and nationalist ideas are on the rise, our projects aim to strengthen the European public sphere in order to enable cohesion and solidarity at the European level. The Goethe-Institut’s projects extend across the countries of the EU and aim to make Europe as a whole tangible. Right now in particular, we need to promote open dialogue and encounters among people from all of the EU member states, and enter into a conversation about what will constitute Europe going forward. We can only do this together! Together with our partners in Europe we also want to use our projects to advance important topics such as dealing with technological innovations or nationalism as well as climate protection and sustainable mobility. Because dealing with these challenges determines the path that European society will take in future.”

Five of these projects are officially part of the Federal government’s cultural programme for the EU Council Presidency and are funded by the Federal Foreign Office: In Europe’s Kitchen, the kitchen becomes a platform for a cultural and Europe-wide dialogue across borders. The #oekoropa digital youth competition calls on young people from all EU member states to submit their ideas for a climate-neutral journey through Europe. Generation A=Algorithm uses interactive formats to explore the question of how artificial intelligence is changing our societies today and will in future. The Tell Me about Europe series of events initiates a cross-generational conversation about the European idea. At the Disappearing Wall, the diversity of Europe can be experienced through a participative installation in the public space.

In addition to the five main EU 2020 projects, the Goethe-Institut is also involved in Olafur Eliasson’s participatory artwork Earth Speakr, which the Berlin-based artist is producing as a part of the cultural program of the German EU Council Presidency. The project is funded by the Federal Foreign Office with special funds for the EU Council Presidency. The Goethe-Institut is supporting Studio Olafur Eliasson in realising the project in all 27 EU countries and the UK in order to reach as many children and young people as possible: 19 of 32 preparatory workshops have already been held at Goethe-Instituts.

Two other major projects bear on the German Council Presidency: From 30 to 31 October 2020, the participatory festival of the Freiraum project will be held. Using digital and physical formats in Brussels and other places, the Goethe-Institut, together with 53 actors from 42 European cities from culture, science, and civil society, is investigating the question: What does freedom mean in Europe today? From 8 to 9 October in Berlin, experts from EU language institutions will discuss the added value of multilingualism and its importance for the communication of European values in the conference series initiated by the Europanetzwerk Deutsch programme on multilingualism in Europe.

The Goethe-Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute, active worldwide. With 157 institutes in 98 countries, we promote the study of German abroad, encourage international cultural exchange and convey a contemporary image of Germany. Through partnerships with institutions in numerous other locations, the Goethe-Institut has about 1,000 contact points worldwide. As a national and European cultural institute, the Goethe-Institut is committed to the vision of progressive European integration and with its activities continuously advocates further strengthening the values of the European Union: liberty, equality, and openness. It operates 52 institutes in Europe.