The Hague prepares for Council of Europe's 60th anniversary
The city will play host to hundreds of European political leaders and NGOs representatives on Friday and Saturday.23 May 2008
THE HAGUE - As the Congress of Europe marks its 60th anniversary in The Hague on Friday and Saturday, The Netherlands city is preparing to play host to hundreds of European political leaders, representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and ordinary citizens.
The congress is open to the public, affording ordinary Europeans the unique opportunity of discussing their own ideas on Europe's future with leaders of NGOs, political parties and leaders.
However, due to a surplus of applications, registration to all workshops and debates has now been closed.
The upcoming event celebrates the 1948 Congress of Europe, when 750 European leaders and observers from the US and Canada came together to discuss the future of the European continent.
The so-called Hague Congress quickly became the basis of European cooperation and resulted in the establishment of the Council of Europe but also played an important role in the formation of the European Union.
According to the European Movement, a think-tank established following the first congress and also the organiser of the current event, the meeting should focus on what it calls the new challenges and needs of contemporary Europe.
Some of the debates and speeches will be broadcast live on the internet and European public television broadcasts.
Among the speakers are Pat Cox (President, European Movement International), Jacques Delors, former President of the European Commission (TBC), Hans-Gert Poettering (President of the European Parliament).
Also due to participate are Janez Jansa (prime minister of Slovenia and EU Slovenian Presidency), Jose Manuel Barroso (President of the European Commission), Dimitris Dimitriadis (President of the EESC), Javier Solana (Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union) and Terry Davis (Secretary General of the Council of Europe).
On Saturday afternoon, a select audience of some 200 people will attend a special anniversary lunch also attended by Dutch Queen Beatrix and Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende.
The original 1948 congress was organised by the International Committee of the Movements for European Unity and presided over by Winston Churchill.
The Congress brought together representatives from across a broad political spectrum, providing them with the opportunity to discuss ideas about the development of European political co-operation.
Important political figures such as Konrad Adenauer, Winston Churchill and Francois Mitterrand took an active role in the congress. The 1948 congress had a profound influence on the shape of the European Movement, which was created soon afterwards.
[dpa / Expatica]