brussels – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Wed, 22 Nov 2017 19:16:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.11 Position Paper on Single Seat of the European Parliament /position-paper-on-single-seat-of-the-european-parliament/ Mon, 01 Sep 2014 07:43:09 +0000 /?p=5506

Introduction

European elections are taking place in May 2014 and with a fresh Parliament on the horizon, we see this as the perfect time to put a stop to the European Parliament’s travelling circus. The European Parliament (EP) works mainly from Brussels, but for fewer than 50 days a year the Parliament moves to its official seat in Strasbourg to vote. This dual seat, in combination with keeping half its administrative staff in Luxembourg, costs an extra €180 million and 19,000 tonnes of CO2 each year[1].

In current times of economic hardship and global warming, these budgetary and environmental costs are no longer justifiable.

History

When the European Community for Steel and Coal (ECSC) was founded in 1951 it had two seats, one in Strasbourg and one in Luxemburg[2]. The city of Strasbourg has a special meaning, as it was the place where Germany and France met. This is important, since one of the underlying political objectives of the ECSC was to strengthen Franco-German solidarity and cooperation — and thus avoid a new war.

With the Treaty of Rome (1957)[3] the common market was introduced and this enlargement of the cooperation meant there was need for more space for the European institutions. The city of Brussels was appointed as the new capital of the European Union, but the Secretariat-General of the Parliament and the Court of Justice remained in Luxemburg, and the Parliament itself kept its seat in Strasbourg.

At that time the EP consisted of a handful of non-elected representatives of governments, and it had only a fraction of its current influence and responsibilities. Now, it has co-decision power in most areas of legislation and its daily work is done in Brussels, in close contact with other European institutions and civil society organisations. However, MEPs still move to Strasbourg 12 times a year to vote.

Since 2007, 1.27 million citizens have signed a petition[4] demanding that the European Parliament should have a Single Seat in Brussels. Unfortunately, the distribution of official seats of the European institutions is written down in the EU Treaty[5], which means the Parliament does not have the power to decide where it meets. It can, however, under the Lisbon Treaty[6], formally propose Treaty changes to Member State governments — which is what it did with the Single Seat campaign in 2013[7].

The European Parliament clearly agrees with the concerns of these 1.27 million citizens, adopting in 2013 —with a supermajority of 78 percent[8] — a motion stating it wishes to be able to decide when and where it will officially meet. So now it is up to the Commission to decide whether or not to put this motion to the Parliament and the Council, who can then decide on this change to the Treaty.

Position of AEGEE-Europe

We have no preference as to where the European Parliament seats. We do however understand the Parliament itself has shown a preference for Brussels, due to the effectiveness of working close to the other European bodies and institutions, as well as the representatives of civil society and the media.

Also, although we realise the importance of the reasons why the European Parliament was officially seated in Strasbourg, we believe that with the ascension of 22 new Member States since the creation of the ECSC, the importance of a seat in Strasbourg has become mainly historical and does not weigh up to the resources spent on moving the Parliament back and forth.

Therefore, we as AEGEE, share the concerns of European citizens considering the high costs of forcing the European Parliament to maintain its two seats. We also believe the Parliament itself should decide, taking into account both practical issues as well as historical ones, where it wishes to convene. We therefore urge the Commission to initiate the procedure for a Treaty change, giving the European Parliament the right to determine its own seat.

About AEGEE

AEGEE/European Students’ Forum was born 29 years ago with the vision of creating a unified Europe, based on democracy and respect for human rights, bringing together students with different cultural backgrounds. Today, AEGEE is Europe’s largest interdisciplinary student organisation: 40 countries, 200 cities, 13 000 friends.

This network provides the ideal platform for young volunteers to work together on cross-border activities such as international conferences, seminars, exchanges, training courses, and case study trips. In line with the challenges young people are currently facing in Europe, AEGEE’s work is focused on three main areas: promotion of youth participation, development of European relations with its neighbours, and inclusion of minorities.

 


[1] Joint Working Group of the Bureau and the Committee on Budgets on the European Parliament budget, Annex 2: http://singleseat.eu/10.html

[5] Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Protocol no. 6, On the location of the seats of the institutions and of certain bodies, offices, agencies and departments of the European Union: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/index.htm

[6] Treaty of Lisbon, Title III, Provisions on the Institutions, Article 9: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2007:306:FULL:EN:PDF

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Czech Republic: Nation of Sceptics? /czech-republic-nation-of-sceptics/ Sun, 20 Apr 2014 10:35:34 +0000 /?p=4860

Visit to the Metro Depot

In Prague we were met by the representative of the Youth for Public Transport (Y4PT). Together with our partner we are trying to raise an awareness among the young people about the most sustainable and the most environmentally friendly ways of travelling. Especially for our journey, Y4PT developed a Carbon Emission Calculator that helps our followers to track the impact our journey has on environment. In the Czech capital Y4PT invited us to visit the oldest Depot of Prague – Kačerov  to experience first-hand how does the maintenance of the city’s transport centre looks like and why do people in Prague prefer to use public transport?

Metro Depot Kačerov provides services for more than 50 trains on the red line of the Prague’s metro system and is one of the biggest in the Czech Republic. As passengers, we hardly ever think about how much effort and resources is put into maintaining and keeping our public transport safe. It was explained to us that one of the main goals of the Dopravní podnik hlavního města Prahy, a public transit company in charge of running all of the means of the transportation in the capital, is to make travelling accessible­ and most of all comfortable for the passengers. In Prague more than 55% of all the journeys are done via public transport, explained to us the Head of the External Relations. As long as the system functions properly young people will be more prone to use trams, busses and metro thus limiting their usage of the private cars. This will not only help to slow down the effects of the climate change, it will also make our cities much more pleasant to live in.

An Outlier

Another question that had to be answered during our stay in Prague was why are the Czechs so Eurosceptical? In fact, according to the recent study of the Republikon Institute, the Czech Republic is the most Eurosceptical nation in the Central and Eastern Europe. It is not very surprising to see United Kingdom at the top of the list, but why does the Czech Republic, located in the heart of Europe, has 43-46% of Eurosceptics is an intriguing question. When we asked young people in Mannheim what they think is the reason for this, there was only one person willing to explain why Czechs stand out (read more City of the Squares). It is the time to finally ask Czechs, what they think about the European Union and where is this national Euroscepticism coming from.

The discussion took place at the VŠE, Prague’s well known University of Economics. The Rektor, Prof. Ing. Hana Machková, welcomed us by introducing the University and its external relations. The workshop soon turned into discussion and participants were actively engaged in answering questions such as: what is Euroscepticism and which factors in their daily life have an effect on the way they view the European Union. Some believed it was studies, others pro-EU student organizations and opportunity to live and travel abroad. Jana Pokorna explained that her views are strongly affected by the legislature coming from Brussels. Often these new laws are not fair to the Czech people, thus this creates a strong resistance.

IMG_9723Generally speaking the discussion about Europtimism in Prague often reminded us that of Mannheim, yet there were some significant differences. Whereas the image of the EU among the participants in Mannheim was rather positive, young people in Prague have neither strongly positive nor strongly negative feelings towards the EU. It is of course not scientifically correct to generalize on the basis of such small and non-representative sample but it does seem to us that the scepticism in the Czech Republic is stronger than in Germany. So how did our participants explain this phenomenon? Some of them believe that the EU is limiting freedoms of the Czechs and this is something that goes against the Czech mentality. Czechs have learned very painful lessons from the Czech history and they are afraid to be taken over by more powerful players.  Another participant, Adnan suggested that such high level of Euroscepticism among Czechs might be a result of the scepticism of the former President of the Czech Republic – Vaclav Klaus. It took a lot of effort for the EU officials and leaders of the EU member states to convince Mr. Klaus to sing the Lisbon Treaty. He was the last president of the 27 member states to sign this historical treaty. With the new pro-European President Miloš Zeman the situation might be changing for better, think students.

The difference between young people in Mannheim and those in Prague were also noticeable in the way they answered the question about the future of the EU. Should the EU get more powers, less we preserve the status quo? Most of the students in Prague wanted to preserve status quo or to limit the powers of the EU (read answers of the students in Mannheim here). The EU should not be interfering in our daily life, it should not tell us how a marmalade or a cucumber should look like, exclaimed one of the students.

 

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Preparing for the European journey of a lifetime! /preparing-for-the-european-journey-of-a-lifetime/ Tue, 08 Apr 2014 21:10:52 +0000 /?p=4514

The Start of Europe on Track: Training weekend in Brussels and Network meeting in Leiden

08-04-2014

Europe on Track is almost ready to go! During the past weekend the travelers of the project finally met each other in person and had a preparation event in Brussels. It was great for them to share ideas about the project. On Sunday they already gained input from students during the Network Meeting (NWM) in Leiden. With so many great ideas, people and enthusiasm on board, you better brace yourselves for a great European adventure!

You can follow everything the teams’ experience on the tracks on www.aegee.org/europeontrack and on http://www.zeus.aegee.org/magazine/ for personal background stories.

Training weekend in Brussels

After many meetings on Skype, countless Facebook chats and emails, the travelers of Europe on Track finally met each other in person, last weekend in Brussels, in the headquarters of AEGEE-Europe (also known as the CD – Comite Directeur – house). During the past 3 days they discussed about the themes of the project, finalised the presentations and prepared nice surprises for each stop.

The CD house in Brussels is one of the best places to gain inspiration about Europe, where people of different nationalities come and go all the time, as if the house would be the homebase of a big European family. In Brussels, the teams also got acquainted with some of the hosts of the stops along the road: Kostas from Aachen, Holger from Berlin and Nicola from Napoli! We got to know about European Ice Bears in Germany, great democratic initiatives in Berlin (like Democracy International who they will visit there) and the best place to get Italian pizza in Napoli.

At the moment, the travelers are preparing for the press conference in the European Parliament. During this official kick-off of the project, the final documentary of Europe on Track 2012 will be shown for the first time. In addition, the travelers and organizers of this year’s edition will introduce themselves and the topics they’ll be working on: European Elections, Youth participation, Youth unemployment, Youth mobility and Europtimism. After the press conference, Team Red will immediately leave by train to Orleans. Team Blue will leave on Thursday morning to Aachen.

Network Meeting Leiden

On Sunday, the travellers and Reka had the first possibility to reveal the fresh new edition of Europe on Track. The team jumped on the train to NWM Leiden where more than 30 participants expected the presentation. The moment was very symbolic – participants enjoyed the only presentation done by all six travellers and the coordination team.

The updated version of Europe on Track’s topics were under the spotlight. In 2012 the ambassadors asked young people how they imagine Europe in 2020. This year, they will get deeper in the issues which actually matter to the young generation – youth mobility and Europe. Six travelers presented in Leiden each of the topics – youth mobility, youth participation, Europtimism, the European elections and youth unemployment and asked participants to draw up the questions that they would ask to young people across Europe.

NWM participants came up also with ideas which kind of street actions should travellers organise together with locals to boost the project visibility. Their curiosity went further, asking travelers what are their expectations and ideas to make the most of their journey.

Excitement, high expectations and exploring what really matters for young Europeans nowadays is what the travellers are up to in their journey of a lifetime. Follow the journey with them!

 

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