"Thank you, Horsens," has often echoed in Forum Horsens, when the large conference center in Central Jutland town has hosted major pop and rock concerts. But during the last half of the Danish Presidency, the Forum has housed a large number of EU meetings. And on 20-21 June 2012 the last officials' meeting on Danish soil during the Presidency will take place in Horsens Forum; the director meeting for the agencies to pay EU farm subsidies.
100 pink bicycles free of charge
Above the roof tops 27 flags have swayed since the early signs of spring. Flags that were hoisted while the first delegates got in the saddle on one of the 100 pink “Giro d'Italia” inspired bikes in April, put their briefcases on the luggage carrier, adjusted their ties and cufflinks, and went cycling through the hilly and scenic landscape.
“For Horsens, it doesn’t get any bigger than this. Never before have we taken on such a challenge. But something we are extremely good at is involving the citizens and making it a common project for the city. Flags and bikes have helped put focus on the Presidency even for those who were not allowed inside the closed meetings”, says EU-project coordinator at Horsens Municipality Charlotte Walkusch.
A total of 11 seminars, conferences, meetings and informal ministerial meetings have taken place under the roof at Forum Horsens. For example the joint ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly with the participation of over 400 politicians and officials from EU and 78 ACP countries (developing countries in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific), which brought out the hospitality of the citizens of Horsens. Between 40 and 50 families volunteered to host a dinner for the meeting participants who got to sample Danish meatballs, red berries pudding and Danish hospitality.
“People were happy and touched, telling about their new family relations in Denmark,” says Charlotte Walkusch, who also mentions an international football match where the Mayor, Mr. Peter Sørensen, city hall employees and officials from every corner of the world came on to the field.“We had no idea, whether anyone would want to join – but everyone put down their façade and joined in”, she says.
EU’s Ministers in Horsens
During the three months Horsens hosted the Presidency four ministerial meetings were held in the city. In April, it was both Energy and Environment Ministers as well as Social-, Employment and Health Ministers who met to discuss topics as diverse as energy, youth unemployment and innovation in health care. And in early June, Agricultural Ministers met for an informal discussion on green and sustainable agriculture, followed by the Ministers for European Affairs' meeting on the future EU budget and how to boosts European growth.
While Danish Ministers in these days are reporting back to the European Parliament’s committees and discuss the results of the Presidency, Horsens closes its doors to prepare for new challenges.
“We want to be a really great conference city for the future. With the Danish Presidency, we have proved that we can successfully host large events. For us, meeting facilities aren’t enough. Every city can have hotels and conference centres. What counts are the side events and the little things that make a city special – which Horsens is,” says Charlotte Walkusch.