May 2011. Florence, capital of Europe Comparing Europe at Palazzo Vecchio


May 2011. Florence, capital of Europe Comparing Europe at Palazzo Vecchio

Rome, 27th April 2011 – From 6th to 10th May, Florence will be the location of the Festival d’Europa, an initiative which is without precedent and which, through its programme full of events for the general public, has the objective of turning the city into a creative and communication laboratory for the dissemination of knowledge of Europe, of its policies, its achievements and the opportunities it provides for citizens.
Many important European representatives will attend the Festival, among them: the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, the Vice-President of the Commission Antonio Tajani, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, the Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and the President of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament Carlo Casini. The event is promoted by the EUI, European University Institute and has been presented today during a press conference held in Rome at the offices of the Representation in Italy of the European Commission.

The main focus of the programme of the Festival d’Europa will be the Conference “The State of the Union”, an international meeting in which many European and national political authorities will participate, as well as experts on international economy and policy. The event will be held on 9th and 10th May in the wonderful scenario of Palazzo Vecchio, with the purpose of analysing the European current situation and the main policies of the Union.

Besides the institutional aspect of the Festival d’Europa, there is the cultural one. Throughout the days of the Festival, Florence will turn blue, the colour of Europe and will become the cultural capital of Europe thanks to the many events widespread all over its territory: the agenda of the initiatives will involve squares, historical buildings, libraries and bookshops, cinemas and theatres. It is a five-day event including exhibitions, workshops, shows, educational and academic initiatives, socio-economical meetings and concerts proposing Florence as an original global communication laboratory.

The core of the Festival will be Piazza Signoria, which throughout the event will turn into Piazza Europa with three exhibition stands specially set up to provide Florentines and visitors with the possibility of deeply analysing all the opportunities and experiences that Europe can offer.

In the Padiglione Europa, promoted by the Representation in Italy of the European Commission, the European Parliament Information Office in Italy and the Department for European Policies of the Prime Minister’s Office, in cooperation with the MFA, many events and workshops addressed to the general public and focused on some of the most significant themes and policies for the EU citizens are planned. Inside the structure, citizens will have the possibility of both asking for specific information on rights, opportunities and financing offered by the various programmes of the European Union, and of meeting and talking with specialized staff working at the main information centres of the European Commission in Italy.

The Padiglione delle Nazioni will contain the exhibition stands of the ten European countries that accepted the invitation to participate in the first edition of the Festival d’Europa.
Among the countries, there will be Turkey, which is not included within the European Union yet, but which, also through its participation in the Padiglione delle Nazioni, aims at sending a strong signal of its approach to the Old Continent. Among the other participants: France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Hungary, each of them with their own initiatives and a particular view on the Union. It must be noticed that in the charming location of the Loggia dei Lanzi, lighted in blue throughout the Festival d’Europa, the European countries will organize performances and concerts related to their traditions.

Finally, there will be the area of the Padiglione Youth on the Move, an initiative promoted by the European Commission which aims at bringing tools and paths to the foreground, which the Programmes of the Union provide in order to support youth mobility, such as scholarships and training grants, cooperation projects, education exchanges and volunteering activities abroad. To this purpose, exhibition paths will be set up, where the experiences carried out to date and financed through community funds will be presented to the public. Young people themselves will be the protagonists and they will have the opportunity to meet and exhibit in a playful and creative way. Youth on the Move will be the occasion to exchange ideas and create new links.

Among the most fascinating events of the Festival, there is the Notte Blu (Blue Night). The event, which is directly organized by the Florence government, is a variant of the Notte Bianca (White Night) dedicated to Europe, its cultures, traditions, differences, tastes, planned between 7th and 8th May. A great collective and urban experience made up of dozens of events which will take place in 27 hours through streets, squares, villas, shops, theatres, cinemas, from the centre to the outskirts of Florence, following the underlying theme of Europe.

The University of Florence participates in the Festival d’Europa with conferences and seminars on the role of the European Union to support research, education and student mobility, while the Province of Florence, with the Regional School Office, participates with the project named “L’Europa a scuola” (Europe at school), within which the young students of the classes of second degree High Schools were involved about the main relevant themes of the European Union, in order to encourage greater awareness on the integration processes of the continent and increase the interest in becoming European active citizens. The Chamber of Commerce and Promofirenze will organize events dedicated to the development of SMEs.

The Festival d’Europa will also include the “74° Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino” (28th April – 23rd June). These two festivals will meet at the Teatro Comunale on the evening of 7th May, at 8.00 p.m. on the occasion of Aida, by Giuseppe Verdi, directed by Ferzan Ozpetek, with the Orchestra and the Choir of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, conducted by Zubin Mehta; the exhibition will be the “Concerto per l’Europa” (Concert for Europe) that the Maggio Musicale will dedicate to the event.

Also theatre will be given a space at the Festival d’Europa with Fabbrica Europa which, within the ambit of its XVIII edition, will display some of the most interesting creations of the international contemporary scene at the Stazione Leopolda.

On the evening of 9th May, the day of the Festa dell’Europa, within the ambit of the Festival, the prize-giving ceremony of the Premio Galileo 2000 will be also held at the Teatro della Pergola. During a performance-event, José Manuel Barroso, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean Claude Juncker, the President of Croatia Ivo Josipovic and the Greek singer Haris Alexiou will be awarded the prize.

Moreover, the programme includes exhibitions, among which the one dedicated to the historical cartography of the European borders at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, meetings and debates, starting from the one promoted by the Fondazione Spadolini named “Il ruolo dell’Italia nell’integrazione Europea” (The role of Italy in European integration), to Giuliano Amato’s conference on "L'Unione Europea: come superare l'impasse" (The European Union: how to break the deadlock) and the FORUM DEI CITTADINI on the “Ruolo del volontariato nel contesto del modello sociale europeo” (The role of volunteering in the context of the European social model), with the participation of European representatives, activities for young people such as those proposed by the Istituto degli Innocenti, shows and projections such as the Film winning the PREMIO LUX 2010 When we leave - Die Fremde.
The main local institutions are directly involved: the Tuscany Region, the Province and the Municipality of Florence, the Regional School Office, the University and the Chamber of Commerce of Florence.
The event is under the High Sponsorship of the President of the Republic of Italy and the Sponsorship of the Foreign Ministry.
Organizing Committee: European University Institute, European Commission, European Parliament, Prime Minister’s Office – Department for European Policies – in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, the Municipality of Florence, the Province of Florence, the Chamber of Commerce of Florence, the University of Florence, the LLP Agency and YOUTH in ACTION.

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