Europe Talks 2024: Europe's biggest conversation before the EU elections

Europe Talks 2024 has come to an end. Let's take a look back at this year's program, and how Europe making sense of the important election issues.

Jun 6, 2024

By Sara Cooper

Europe Talks 2024 has come to an end. The cross-border dialogue program took place every Saturday in April and May, to help Europeans prepare for the upcoming EU elections. This year’s Europe Talks was more ambitious than ever, with eight digital dialogue events and four in-person events in different cities all across Europe.

What is Europe Talking about?

Europe Talks matches people together with totally different political opinions living in different European countries. To sign up, each participant answers a series of Yes/No questions about controversial issues causing debate among Europeans. This year, more than 5,150 people signed up for the online dialogue program. They came from 39 countries, across the whole European continent, and all walks of life.

Here you can see how the participants answered the discussion questions, which were used by our matching algorithm to pair together people with opposite views. These questions also formed the basis of the one-on-one conversations.

Answers to the Europe Talks discussion questions

“There was a language barrier but at the same time a heartful attempt to understand each other” - Anne from Germany

Talking to a stranger about politics can be scary, especially when you may not even speak the same language. But this year’s Europe Talks participants had constructive and respectful conversations, and 87% said they were happy with their experience. Many participants even formed friendships – 62% said they were planning to stay in touch with their conversation partner after the program ended.

One such couple was Roberto (63) from Italy and Martin (63) from Germany, who have kept their conversation going for more than two months! Roberto and Martin have been continuously emailing each other since the end of March. “We love writing. You have time to think about the email your partner sent you and respond to it,” explains Martin.

While each conversation is private and unmoderated, participants’ personal messages gave us a glimpse into their conversations. You can read some of the highlights from each digital dialogue event in our weekly recap series, here

“I initially assumed we may have a few points where we will disagree, but it turned out that everything was almost identical.” says Hendrikas (small) about his conversation with Ondrej (big)

Coming together in four European cities

In four cities across Europe, participants also had the chance to meet each other face-to-face. These events were organized by Europe Talks partners in Amsterdam, Berlin, Warsaw, and Madrid, each around an important topic of the upcoming EU Parliament election.

The event in Warsaw took place on May 29 at the offices of Gazeta Wyborcza. Four panelists from different political parties talked about security, an important issue for Poland, which shares the EU’s second-longest border with Ukraine. Security is also relevant to Poland’s in its transition from the previous far-right government to the newly elected liberal party. The event was scheduled to take place only in-person, but was moved to a hybrid format out of concerns for the politicians’ safety, given the recent attack in Slovakia.

The second Europe Talks event took place in Amsterdam on May 31. It was co-organized by the European Cultural Foundation and Here to Support, an NGO that "facilitates projects by and for undocumented people to have their voices heard.” The topic of the program was migration. During the event, the audience heard from several speakers representing the migrant and undocumented communities in The Netherlands, and then shared a communal dinner together. During dinner, each table had the chance to connect with undocumented people and listen to their firsthand stories and experiences.

The third Europe Talks event took place in Berlin on May 31, organized by ZEIT ONLINE. 39 first-time voters from 24 EU countries met in Berlin for a full day workshop to design solutions for some of Europe’s biggest challenges. The participants were split into four groups which covered the themes of security, mobility, migration, and EU identity. At the end of the day, each group presented their solutions to an audience of journalists and other invited guests. You can read more about the program here.

The fourth Europe Talks event took place on June 4 in Madrid, organized by the European Cultural Foundation and Conciencia Afro, an organization and cultural space in Madrid for African and Afro-descendent communities. The Europe Talks Spain event focused on youth participation in the EU elections. The program was organized into two fishbowl rounds, in which experts were placed in the center of a large circle and the audience was encouraged to step in and speak their opinion. Questions for the panel of experts were hidden in fortune cookies, bringing a sense of suspense and lightness to some difficult topics.

This year’s edition of Europe Talks was organized by ZEIT ONLINE with the cooperation of a network of European media: Daily Mirror from Great Britain, Der Standard from Austria, Efimerida Ton Syntakton from Greece, Euractiv from Belgium, Gazeta Wyborcza from Poland, Il Fatto from Italy, LRT from Lithuania, N1 from Serbia, PressOne from Romania, SME from Slovakia, The Display media platform and its partners, Eurozine from Austria, Krytyka Polityczna from Poland, El Diario from Spain, and Voxeurop from Belgium.

Europe Talks 2024 is co-funded by the European Commission Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) program, as well as the EU Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology initiative to create new European media platforms.

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