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// the festival friends

The Festival Friends are pan-European institutions, foundations, associations and companies dedicated to improve our European togetherness.

Here you can find out more about The Festival Friends (in alphabetic order):

Graduates and young professionals, that is one of the key target groups of The Festival. Most of them think international and have a pro-European mindset; a great source of potential The Festival supporters.

Since April 2008 Absolventa, a German “Jobbörse”, has won more than 90,000 job seekers in both categories. And they launched an exciting nonprofit initiative; the first democratic scholarship. Among themselves Absolventa members vote for the most creative application. The prize, a 25,000 € scholarship, helps the winner study abroad, somewhere in Europe.

Co-founder and Managing Director Pascal Tilgner explains that,

“Absolventa, for the time being, is a 100% Germany-based venture. We don’t know today what will happen by 2012, but it’s obvious that the world is changing rapidly. Locally oriented job seekers from Germany today might be focusing on jobs in Poland or France tomorrow. Our ‘democratic scholarship’ is a first internationally oriented step. Europe is the future, obviously. In that sense we consider The Festival an extraordinary initiative. It’s visionary and brave. We wish you guys all the best and good luck!” is the first multilingual European current affairs magazine, designed for readers across borders. revolutionises European media through participatory journalism, providing a unique platform of expression for the ‘eurogeneration’, the first generation living Europe on a day-by-day basis thanks to the Erasmus study exchange programme, the internet and an increasing mobility.’s aim is to stimulate and develop European public opinion through its online magazine, offering every day an in-depth coverage of political, cultural and social trends from a unique, European perspective. These contents are written and translated by a vibrant community of babelians and then edited by our team of professional journalists. The website also offers babelblogs, the first multilingual blogs, and babelforums, a spot for pan-European debate in real time. At a grassroots level, the e-community is moderated by a network of local teams promoting the European perspective through debates, conferences and other physical initiatives. is the online publication of the Babel International association. Created in 2001 mainly by Erasmus students, the association’s headquarters is at its central European office in Paris. Together with an ever-expanding network of local offices across Europe, can truly claim to be the voice of the ‘euro-generation’.

In the preliminaries to the European parliamentary elections in June 2009 the team has launched Free from connections to any political group it is a website to debate, give information and encourage citizens to express themselves on the European parliamentary elections.

The “European Cultural Parliament” is a forum for European personalities in the fields of arts, culture and letters for dialogue, discussions and debate about crucial and burning issues of importance for European co-operation, European democracy and European culture.

The belief of the “European Cultural Parliament” is that the European idea is based on a balance between respect for the diversity of cultures in Europe and cross-cultural tolerance and understanding.

The purpose of the “European Cultural Parliament” is to strengthen the role of cultural and artistic ideas in the debate on the future of Europe. The Parliament will stand for common values, cultural identity and diversity as well as tolerance and will promote bridge building with other cultures.

To this end the “European Cultural Parliament” offers a forum for regular debate on crucial issues between independent artists, writers, musicians, historians, philosophers, designers, architects and other cultural personalities from all European countries. The forum also provides a European meeting place, where important networks, ideas and initatives are created.

Karl-Erik Norrmann, founder and Secretary General of the ECP praises the common ground between the two initiatives:

“A European identity is still lacking. There are few “European patriots”. Culture can and does promote cohesion. It can show us how much we have in common - for good or bad, and it can also point at the future possibilities of cooperation and feelings of identity. Personally, I am very much in favour of The Festival approach to connect Europeans through lifestyle themes which harbour our cultural riches. It is a modern way to transmit important messages on a people to people level. We are looking foward to building the bridge between The Festival and some of Europe’s top cultural personalities.” is the first Polish Erasmus community platform, which has just recently won both the jury and spectators’ vote at Democamp 2009 as best Polish start-up.

Founder Michal Juda came up with the idea when he was preparing himself for his Erasmus in Belgium and couldn’t find any accurate information about the city and the school he was going to. He wanted to know basic information like if it was better to stay in a students’ residence or rent a flat, which courses he should choose, etc.

Michal’s vision is to make erasmuse become the first pan-European platform where almost all Erasmus students meet, check reviews of universities and generally share their experiences. Right now there is a Polish version available which has attracted 6,500 registered users in only four months. “We have 15,000 Unique Users monthly. I am sure that after translating the website to English by the end of this year the numbers will rise at least 10-fold”, explains the entrepreneur.

With regards to The Festival Michal confirms that he likes the idea very much: “I really appreciate this project. Personally I also changed my view on European matters after my Erasmus scholarship in Belgium. Just like The Festival team I found my European niche of civic initiative.”

Europe wants to be more innovative. Europe needs more entrepreneurship. Platforms like the European Venture Market help build the necessary entrepreneurial culture.

Since 2004 the European Venture Market is a platform where European entrepreneurs and investors meet. It focuses on equity but is suitable for any kind of financing e.g. Leasing and Factoring. Investors from all stages and with different approaches make the EVM suitable for companies from all sectors.

Ulf Leinhard, CEO of European Venture Market, explains that,

“We carry the word European in our name because we believe in this marketplace. It’s been great to see the entrepreneurial potential our political progress in Europe has unlocked so far. But we are far from perfect. The European model is still based on strong national entities and cultures. If Europe wants to be more innovative, then its know-how has to move much faster and more horizontally. Innovation is just a word, it’s the people who turn new ideas into successful models. On our events I see very bright people, and I’m looking forward to our near European future with confidence.

Felix Meritis is an independent European centre for art, culture and science and a national and international meeting place in Amsterdam.

Just like us the people behind Felix Meritis believe in (the need for) cultural diversity in Europe as an engine of progress and social cohesion. That is why they conduct a public European cultural dialogue with individuals in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and further afield and take part in national and international cultural networks.

The motto of Felix Meritis is Connecting Cultures. Felix Meritis has initiated many international projects, such as Gulliver, Gulliver Connect, The People Network, Essay International, The Amsterdam-Maastricht Summer University and the Network of Centres for European Culture and Debate (NCECD).

Felix Meritis cooperates with such partners as The Caucasus Foundation (Tbilisi), Cultural Front (Beograd), Kuhnya (Novosibirsk), KulturKontakt (Vienna), Red House (Sofia) and the Berlin Conference for European Cultural Policy (through A Soul for Europe), European House for Cultures (Brussels), SICA, the Month of Philosophy Foundation, and the Globalisation Lecture Foundation. In this way Felix Meritis ensures that the Dutch cultural and artistic sector is visible all over Europe.

The centre is managed by Linda Bouws who gets straight to the point when she talks about the challening mission of The Festival: “Connecting people by bringing them together is one thing, to connect cultures through connecting people is another. The key-word here is continuity. To keep people involved needs a permanent informal but interactive and underproductive approach that is willing to deal with inconveniences, complexity and rather diverse opinions on serious matters. This costs time, money and the sometimes defending of not so popular standpoints.”

Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is one of the biggest interdisciplinary student associations in Europe, founded in 1989 for supporting and developing student mobility.

The ESN is present in 281 Higher Education Institutions from 32 countries (October 2008) offering services to 150.000 students annually. The network is constantly developing and expanding.

Matthias Fenner, President of the nonprofit organization and representative of Home Zone Switzerland, says:

“The Festival aims at uniting through diversity, and thus goes hand in hand with our number one value at ESN; unity in diversity, diversity in the unity. Initiatives like The Festival can change the way people look upon Europe. We at ESN wholeheartedly support this project.”

The Circle of German speaking Executives (KDF) is a platform for leading corporate, diplomatic and cultural representatives based in Barcelona, Spain. Founded in 1980, today the circle has more than 260 members and is the oldest private association of its kind in Spain.

President Albert Peters about the kdf and The Festival:

“For almost 30 years now the kdf has played a distinguished role in building bridges between the German and the Spanish-Catalan culture. It is great to see how our club has grown over the last decade; an indicator showing that the professional and cultural exchange between European regions has already become reality. Our members are pro-European, because they live Europe every day. The Festival, on the other hand, targets people all across our continent who have yet to find out about the relevance of Europe for their daily lives. From our perspective it is an excellent civic signal in times of uncertainties about the whereabouts of the political direction of Europe. We wish the organizers all the best for making this European dream come true.”

Based in Athens, thinksters is the first youth think tank in Greece focused on everyday leadership. Young leaders in politics, art and science have found their place to speak up, display their work and realize their ideas. Founded in 2008, thinksters are on their way to making it into a European movement. With strong affiliates in more than 15 European cities and volunteers in the United States and Canada, the first international event is planned in 2011.

Founder Konstantinos Kyranakis says:

“Young people are always searching for a strong idea to be passionate about, to create on it and to inspire their friends. Through the decades, many ideas were born, few have survived. The idea of a united Europe has been a strong one for more than 60 years. It is about living together and enjoying our diversity, it is about creating common experiences, it is about inspiring people with ideas that seemed impossible only 10 years ago. Inspiring people about Europe is a powerful idea.

Thinksters will support The Festival by any means because it fits our own vision. Bringing people together is the first step - to make them realize how important these moments are, is the tough one.”

The UEF, founded in 1947 is a supranational political citizens movement dedicated to uniting Europe along federal lines. With 50,000 members and more than 20 sections, it has been active at the European, national and local levels for more than 50 years. It was founded with the belief that only a European Federation, based on the idea of unity in diversity, could overcome the division of the European continent that had caused the suffering and destruction of the two World Wars. UEF mother organizations are the World Federalist Movement and the European Movement International. JEF, the Young European Federalists is the youth section of UEF.

Joan Marc Simon, Secretary General of Union of European Federalists welcomes the initiative:

“The Festival is an excellent idea to put faces to Europe and it shows the vitality of the European ‘People’. Europe has no meaning without Europeans, and the last 60 years show the success of bringing down borders and being united. The European Federalists is the oldest pan-European movement of citizens that since WWII didn’t stop believing in the need to unite Europe in its diversity. In the 50ies we were burning border control posts, thanks to Europe in the 21st century we can celebrate the joy of living together!”

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