Future of Europe | CAE Reflection Paper






The Reflection Paper "Belonging and Becoming: A cultural response to the White Paper on the Future of Europe and the accompanying reflection papers" proposes a first answer to this question, reflecting the voices of over 500 cultural players throughout Europe.





  • The Cultural Sector’s assessment of the 5 Scenarios
  • Guiding principles and actions for a 6th Scenario
  • A cultural response to the European Commission reflection papers
    • Reflection paper on the social dimension of Europe
    • Reflection paper on harnessing globalisation
    • Reflection paper on the future of European defence
    • Reflection paper on the future of EU finances

Beyond the Obvious 2017

Register before 23 December and get your early bird fee! Our different ticket categories will fit all your needs.


The new obvious and the whale


People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around -- the music and the ideas.
Bob Dylan

...I too, before I disappear, might find
in an eternal Whale whose eyes are blind
my old accustomed voice, my words arrayed
in faultless battle order; as He made
His whispers clear, with all my poor throat’s might
I could speak out, unwearied till the night,....
Mihaly Babits, (Jonah´s prayer, written in 1938, after Anschluss)


Robert Manchin, president & acting secretary general of Culture Action Europe

The thought-provoking gathering of Culture Action Europe aims to look beyond the obvious. A prophetic task fitting our mandate in society. Every year since 2014 we update our definition of the obvious. What was unthinkable the year or even the Day Before, becomes the New Obvious.

Our self-definition as a sector includes the task of sense-making, laying the foundations for shared cultural interpretations of our uncertain world. Much like a reluctant prophet before, we might prefer to reflect and think in a shade, ignoring the alarming signs of social, environmental and political tensions. The mission that unites us is to Act for Culture, to gather strength from each other in order to fulfil this calling. We will again provide an opportunity to share stories and experiences, to sketch scenarios, and build strategies.

The 2017 Beyond the Obvious conference takes place by the Danube, in Budapest, in a venue named appropriately Balna (the Whale).

We propose to take advantage of this location as a starting point to discuss the multiple challenges of the European project. Knowing that no obvious solutions exist, we need a deeper understanding of the cultural and historic viewpoints of the different European regions. After a decade of being in the EU, Central and Eastern Europe is culturally still terra incognita. Seriously underrepresented in EU cultural networks, Central and Eastern Europeans lack a voice and Europe as a whole lacks the lenses to understand the complex social and cultural developments that shape the region.

<< We wonder are the East-West socio-cultural dynamics fundamentally different?
What are the common threads?
How meaningful is the North-South paradigm?
How do we move beyond the centre-periphery dichotomy? >>

We invite you to reflect, discuss and collectively embrace the issues that a composite Europe faces today. To prevent further fragmentation this cannot be postponed.

European culture is not limited by borders. After the UK vote to leave the EU and at a time of rising global counterrevolution against cosmopolitism and globalisation, we need to urgently discuss how the cultural frameworks shaping our practices can benefit from the inclusion of cultural actors within and outside of political borders.

<< Expect lively exchanges from colleagues from UK, from the Balkan and hopefully from Russia as well >>

While we search for effective ways to act on national and global level, we have great examples of culture-led social innovations from communities at a local level.

<< Expect inspiring discussions as a break from all the doom and gloom scenarios from actors in the most innovative European cities >>

We are inviting brave cities, piloting solutions on how to create inclusive, culturally sustainable localities. A special focus will be on sharing experiences of actors from past and future or aspiring European Capitals of Cultures.

We need our collective creativity and visions to redefine the edges of culture. We cannot be blind to the signals pointing to the transformation of the global regime and the change of paradigm that it encompasses. Yet, the global changes happening are not limited to the domain of the political institutions. The digital data, information and communication revolution, the rapid transformation of work, the depletion of the biological and environmental base of our existence as a species, makes this great acceleration unpredictable.

This is the context where we need to be bold enough to move beyond our conventional assumptions. The Whale will be a space to rethink culture, to explore its borders and edges.

<< Expect to hear controversial views and be open to challenging discourses. The proven participative format of the BtO will spark inspiration and self-reflective exchange >>

We look forward to welcome you in Budapest!


For more information click here

See you all in Budapest!



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