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The Vaclav Havel European Dialogues
Brussels, 8 November 2016

Havel´s Power of the Powerless: How can the EU connect better with its people

“Everything seems to attest to the fact that we don’t need to be afraid to dream of the seemingly impossible if we want the seemingly impossible to become reality. Without dreaming of a better Europe we will never be able to build a better Europe.”

Václav Havel, Address at the Council of Europe, 10 May 1990

The Václav Havel European Dialogues is an international project that aims to initiate and stimulate discussion about issues determining the direction of contemporary Europe while referring to the European spiritual legacy of Václav Havel.

When and where

  • Date: 8 November 2016
  • Place: Breydel Auditorium, Avenue d‘Auderghem 45, Brussels
  • Organizers: The Vaclav Havel Library, Prague Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU, Embassy of the Czech Republic to the Kingdom of Belgium, Czech Centre in Brussels, Goethe-Institut 


17:45 Registration

18:00 Opening of the conference

Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Pavel Svoboda, Member of European Parliament, EPP, Martin Povejšil, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the EU, Jaroslav Kurfürst, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Kingdom of Belgium

18:15 First Panel: " Václav Havel‘s legacy for the Europe of citizens: what story for Europe?"

Karel Schwarzenberg / Markus Meckel / Martin Bútora
Moderator: Michael Žantovský

One of Václav Havel‘s legacies was his civic engagement based on his sense of responsibility for the future of the society and the country he was a part of. As a convinced European, he stressed the need to maintain the connection between the state and its institutions, and its people. For him politics was an ongoing, deeply meaningful dialogue comparable to a theatre piece. The EU reflecting the values he was fighting for needs to generate stories which would address people´s concerns and dreams. It should avoid being perceived as a de-personalized structure. How to introduce the “Europe of stories”? How can we bring the EU closer to the people and protect it from populism? What stories do Europeans expect from the EU? How can the EU emphasize its original contribution for peace?

19:15 Second Panel: " The war for the European soul: Europe between politics and civil society"

Herman Van Rompuy / Ana Palacio / Jiří Přibáň
Moderator: Michael Žantovský

Increased popular discontent in the EU countries with the associated symptoms of populism, confusion and emotionality in public discourse has led to the crisis of trust of European citizens in the future of the EU, manifested, i.a. by the outcome of the referendum in the UK. At the same time, the EU clearly needs the self-reflection and rethinking of the connection between the world of the EU institutions and member states, between politics and civil society, high policies and low politics, elites and ordinary people. What can the European leaders and the EU institutions do to change the dynamics? What should be changed? How to address popular concerns and reassure people?

Glass of wine