When was the last time you talked politics with a stranger?
On December 13, 2020, over 12,000 participants from across the continent met for one-on-one conversations to discuss issues that matter to all Europeans. Together with eighteen media partners from fifteen countries, ZEIT ONLINE and the My Country Talks team launched Europe Talks for the second year in a row - with a new twist. In the midst of a global pandemic, this year all the conversations were online.
"Europeans from 34 countries have signed up for the event, more than the European Union has member states. Two debaters come from Iceland, two from North Macedonia and one from Monaco. The bulk of the registrations are from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Britain and Italy. On average, participants are 44 years old, which is slightly older than the average age in the EU as a whole. Around 58 percent are men, though at 40 percent, the share of women participants is much higher than it was last year."
The discussion questions for Europe Talks 2020 of course covered the coronavirus, but also asked participants a number of other polarising questions, such as whether Russia was a threat to Europe, or if all European countries should be obliged to accept refugees. The most divisive question? Whether all cities in Europe should be car-free.
Europe Talks 2020 is the only event of its kind that brings together tens of thousands of people from all over Europe to have unfiltered conversations about the most pressing and polarising issues of today. In a time when we are more connected than ever, it is still difficult to meet someone who sees the world from a different perspective. Europe Talks creates an open space for Europeans to discuss the most pressing issues of today, and share ideas for the future of the continent. Most importantly, participants hear the stories and experiences of someone completely different from them, gain new perspectives, and build long-lasting friendships.