Vienna is at the heart of a Europe increasingly defined by political upheaval. Following the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union, national election campaigns in the Netherlands, France and Germany are continuing to sharply divide public opinion and debate in 2017. Are Europe’s nation-states turning inward? Can its cities claim to be open and cosmopolitan in this context?
Vienna’s “Step 2025” Urban Development Plan defines the city as “cosmopolitan,” viewing “the diversity of its population as a key development factor that will continue to render the city attractive for talented people from all over the world, international investment, pioneering research institutions and international organisations.”
The city’s Deputy-Mayor, Maria Vassilakou, is a leading advocate of this vision. In a public lecture followed by a discussion chaired by Savvas Verdis, Ms. Vassilakou discussed the challenges of governing a cosmopolitan city in a divisive political climate, while also outlining Vienna’s wider environmental and social agenda.