ENGAGE.EU learners took part in the Conference on the Future of Europe as representatives of European Students. The event in Strasbourg brought together European learners who had the chance to meet and work together for the future of the European Union. Here are the highlights from the event report of two of ENGAGE.EU’s representatives from LUISS – Aisee Khismatouline Sciurpa and Umberto Costa Broccardi:
“We have had the pleasure of taking part in the inaugural session of the European Students Assembly which took place in Strasbourg on March 3rd and 4th 2022. The assembly gave 275 students, from 138 different European universities and 38 universities’ alliances, the chance to take part in the Conference on the Future of Europe as representatives of European Students. Our mandate was to draft proposals on how to make the European Union better in different fields. In order to achieve this goal, the participants were divided in 10 panels, each one with a different specific topic.
Here is a complete list of the panels and the relative topics:
- How can the EU reunite its people around its common values?
- How can the European Union become more resilient to cyber attacks?
- Learning from the pandemic – Do we need a European Health Union?
- Agriculture vs. Sustainability – What CAP for the future?
- Sustainable development or degrowth / What economic model can the EU adopt for tomorrow’s world and how can it be durably settled?
- Re-thinking democratic engagement in the digital age: How should the European democracy of tomorrow look like?
- Social media: opportunities and threats – How can the EU regulate digital platforms without limiting freedom of speech and free exchange of thoughts?
- How should the EU position itself in a globalized world, vis-à-vis other actors such as the US, China, or Russia, and with regards to conflicts in its neighborhood?
- Climate refugees as a new challenge for Europe – How should the European Union prepare to deal with the refugee crisis to come?
- Online is good, in person is better?! How to build future-oriented, digitalized, and yet inclusive higher education systems across the European Union?
We were assigned to panels 5 (Aisee) and 8 (Umberto), two panels that engage with topics that nowadays represent a challenge for the Union and that truly captured our interest.
In this report we will touch upon our experience and give a summary of the activities and our role in the conference and the weeks leading to it. Furthermore, we will focus on the role that the alliances played in the event and in particular to that of ENGAGE.EU, our alliance.
The first meeting of the conference took place on the 12th of January and we were introduced to the organizers of the conference. After this introduction we had time to meet our panels for the first time. Each panel was composed of around 25 students at all levels of higher education, from Bachelor’s degrees all the way up to PhDs. We met our coordinators, who guided us for the entire journey.
In the following weeks we began our work in the panels, this was done through meetings with experts in the fields. This gave us the possibility to really delve in the subjects and to have a point of view, as informed as possible, when it came time to write our proposals.
The following step in the work of the panels was to furtherly divide into subgroups of 5-6 people each. These task forces would have to write the proposals that would be presented at the conference in March. We were respectively assigned to the Mobility and Transport subgroup (Panel 5, Aisee) and to the Foreign Policy subgroup (Panel 8, Umberto).
In our subgroups we were able to draft and approve proposals. One about the incentivization of rail transport for European passengers both for short and long-haul travels (Aisee), and the other one about the abolition of the Unanimity criterion in voting procedure in the Council of the European Union (Umberto).
At the end, once in Strasbourg, each panel finalized its proposals that were then presented to the plenary meeting on the evening of the 4th of March. After the presentation of almost 100 proposals, a vote was held. We are proud to report that the proposals, of the ESA we worked on, were approved almost unanimously.
Throughout the 3 days in Strasbourg, we were able to really connect with many students. We really believe that the true value of this experience was the possibility of getting to know our peers from all around Europe, coming from different backgrounds. Amongst the many students that we met, we really enjoyed getting to know the other members of the ENGAGE.EU delegation.
Although we were relatively new to the alliance, the former President Marco and the current President Sandro really did make us feel at home. We were able to connect with them much more than with other students and we are grateful for this opportunity.
In an environment as diverse as that of the ESA, with students coming from all over Europe and the world, the value of a preexisting network is not to be underestimated. We are convinced that, if we were not part of an alliance like ENGAGE.EU, we would not enjoy this event as much as we did. The importance of networking for students of our age is paramount, and alliances give us the possibility to extend our contacts out of our university’s walls.
Finally, we would not have been able to take part in this event at all without ENGAGE.EU, and we will be forever grateful to the alliance for the opportunity to take part in this incredible experience.”