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Speaker(s): Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Guy Verhofstadt
Recorded on 8 October 2012 at Old Theatre, Old Building
Europe is in crisis. How did we get here? What didn’t work? Faced with such an emergency, are the euro zone states not creating an undemocratic monster? Is euroscepticism not reactionary? Could a federation of 27 actually work?
For Europe is a call. A wake up call directed to every citizen. It is an exercise in lucidity that encourages reflection. And it is also an alarm bell. The tone is frank, passionate. The arguments hard hitting : “Europe must once and for all get rid of the navel gazing of its nation-states. A radical revolution is needed. A large European revolution. And a European federal Union must emerge. A Union that enables Europe to participate in the postnational world of tomorrow. By laziness, cowardice and lack of vision, too many of our Heads of State and Government prefer not to see what is at stake. Let’s wake them up. Let’s confront them with their impotence. And give them no respite until they have taken the European way, the way to a Europe of the future, towards a Europe for Europeans. The era of empty summits and statements is over. Now is the time for action.”
Daniel Cohn-Bendit was born on 4 April 1945 in Montauban, France, as a second son to German-Jewish parents. After obtaining his abitur at the Odenwaldschule, Germany, he decided to study Sociology at the University of Nanterre, Paris. He became the student leader and spokesperson in the social unrests in May 1968. Because of this role and his German nationality, Daniel Cohn-Bendit was expelled. He worked as a childcare worker and bookseller in the alternative-anarchist scene of Frankfurt am Main, where he co-founded the magazine Pflasterstrand (beach of cobblestone, from the French 1968 slogan "Sous les pavés, le sable"). In 1984, he was founding member of the German green party "DIE GRÜNEN". In 1989, he became honorary Head of Department in the Office for Multicultural Affairs in Frankfurt. Daniel Cohn-Bendit presented the Swiss TV programme Literaturklub from 1994 to 2003.
He was elected Member of the European Parliament for the first time in 1994 on a German conscription list. Since 2002, he is co-chairman of the group of the Greens/European Free Alliance. He won his current mandate as head of the list in Ile-de-France / Paris. Daniel holds an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Tilburg, Netherlands. He won the Hannah Arendt prize for Political Thinking, and the Trombinoscope award "Political Personality" for special contributions in the field of politics (2009).
Guy Verhofstadt was born in 1953, and attended school and university in Ghent, where he studied the law. In 1972, he became President of the Liberal Flemish Students' Union in Ghent and, four years later, was elected as a City Councillor there. Keen to follow his interest in national politics, Guy went on to take a number of high profile posts including Political Secretary to Willy De Clercq, National President of the Party for Freedom and Progress (PVV), an MP in the House of Representatives, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Budget, a Senator, and National President of the PVV and National President of the Flemish Liberals and Democrats (VLD).
In July 1999 he became Prime Minister of Belgium, heading three separate governments over the course of nearly ten years. In June 2009 Guy Verhofstadt was elected to the European Parliament where he will pursue his interests in European politics after winning the unanimous support of the ALDE Group in their leadership contest. In addition to his duties as a politician, Guy has written a number of books including, The United States of Europe (2006), The New Age of Empires (2008) and Emerging from the Crisis: How Europe can Save the World (2009).