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1 May 2004 the EU grew dramatically. New cultures, languages and historical experiences enriched the Union. The EU became more diverse. But also more alien to some. This was the motivation to set in place a new initiative to communicate Europe better, especially at local level.

Since the year 2004 the initiative „Our EU goes local" provides a platform where politicians can communicate their views on Europe, where students can exchange their visions and where artists (such as the musicians of the European Youth Orchestra) can provide their interpretation of what Europe is and should be.

All these activities are carried out in an old palace (the eldest parts date back to the year 1000) surrounded by a romantic park. The Palais gave the initiative the name „Palaistalks". Already 200 years ago the house stood at the centre of the question how much unity and how much diversity Europe needs. Imperator Napoleon showed interest in taking over the property while at the same time the house became a symbol for the local resistance against the French occupation with Andreas Hofer convening the "Landstände” in one of the rooms in the Palais.

Still nowadays Europe is confronted with the question how best to bring its motto „unity in diversity" to life, Europe remains a laboratory that draws and should draw its strength and legitimacy from local discussions and initiatives. This small initiative tries to provide its modest contribution in this regard.


  • Eastern enlargement was the founding moment for the initiative as it became clear that Europe needs more presence and better communication at local level. One of the first activities was a bike tour along the „Green Line" in Cyprus – under the hopeful (but in the end illusionary) motto "cycling along the last borders” (see here).
  • The Palais Toggenburg is the place where the initiative was founded in 2004 and where till nowadays its activities are carried out. In this sense the building became a Europe-house of its own kind (a few infos are available here).
  • Who stands behind the initiative? Gabriel N. Toggenburg found helpful minds and hands that made it possible to maintain the initiative through all these years. Amongst them is the dynamic Alpbach team of the Club Alpbach Südtirol/Alto Adige (the association was founded in the Palais and allows every year that students from the Italian and the Austrian side of the border "Brenner” exchange their views at the European Forum Alpbach - for more information see this video-clip). However, first and foremost it is Dr. MMag. Günther Rautz (link hier) who in his calm wisdom coordinates the activities on the spot.
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