Ever since the days of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), Northrhine-Westphalia is located right inside the heart of the European project. And although the European Union is suffering a major crisis at the moment, we are still strongly convinced that European problems can only be solved by the people living in Europe working together.
Therefore, when we decided to host one of the primary-debates in Northrhine-Westphalia, our main aim was to enable people to participate directly in this democratic experiment and to connect to the "European idea". For this reason we wanted to have dialogue and debate right here in Cologne and happily invited the four contenders to visit us.
In addition, we were glad to host an event, which is not only designed to attract attention for the European Election, but also offers the chance to encourage our party members to participate in the upcoming campaign. For this reason, we combined the primary event with our Northrhine-Westphalia party congress, which also focuses on the issue of Europe. Therefore, in the hours directly after the debate, we will discuss the role of Nortrhine-Westphalia as region in central Europe. Afterwards, we decide which local candidates we will support on their way to the European Parliament.
Having started the organisation of the Green Primary debate, we soon discovered there was a lot more work to do than we had anticipated. Not only did we have to find a sufficient location – in addition, hosting a transnational debate session offered many new challenges we never thought of. For example, we had to deal with the question of simultaneous translation: even though two of the four Contenders come from Germany, we needed to make sure that the other Contenders will also be able to use a language they feel secure to debate in.
Other elements of the debate – e.g. offering the possibility to ask questions via Facebook and Twitter - have been elements of our own events for a long time and therefore we could hold on to existing concepts and procedures.
Today, only three days from the debate, we are quite curious how everything is going to work out, how many people will be there to listen and to ask questions and- last but not least - which ideas and visions the Contenders will present us for the future of the European Union.