A Word of Welcome

from the German Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek

Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Education and Research

Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Education and Research

BMBF/Laurence Chaperon

"Democracy in Europe is facing major challenges. Public trust in parliaments, governments and political parties is waning. We need to ask ourselves why people in Europe think that policy-makers are not taking adequate consideration of their problems and needs. And we have to learn why this all too often leads to alienation from politics and a rejection of the principles of democracy. These are alarming signals for all of Europe and in particular Germany considering our past. We need to ensure that opportunities to participate in politics are being utilized and that political engagement and commitment to the common good regain value.

Socio-economic inequalities, the challenge of sustained migration to Europe and the continuing threat of terrorism are causing a polarization of societies and a surge of populism around the world. These developments are putting pressure on our democracies and the European Union, too. They also present us with fundamental questions of political legitimacy and participation as well as social cohesion, our ability to meet future challenges and the resilience of our model of a free and democratic society. The social sciences and humanities make an important contribution in this context. They analyse and consider complex problems and develop solutions to strengthen democracies and foster social cohesion and interaction in Europe.

Under the “Understanding society – shaping the future” framework programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, we are supporting research on these areas in the humanities and social sciences in Germany. However, neither is Germany the only country faced with these challenges, nor can they be solved in Germany alone. They require a European approach. I am therefore delighted that these topics, which are of central importance for the future of Europe, will play a key role in the deliberations on the EU’s next research and innovation framework programme, Horizon Europe. Now it is about refining the research topics of the future and setting the right priorities. The “Revitalising Democracy in Times of Division” conference provides a platform for researchers and research policy-makers in Europe to identify urgent research requirements. Their input can spawn ideas for the next EU framework programme. I believe it is important to involve not only European researchers but also representatives from politics and society. Only then can we succeed in transferring research results from the humanities and social sciences to society.

I warmly invite you to come to Bonn and play an active role in the conference. We have chosen a conference venue that is inextricably linked with the topic of democracy – until its move to Berlin in 1999, the plenary hall was formerly the home of the German Bundestag.

I look forward to seeing you in Bonn in October 2020!"

Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Education and Research