students – 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 Education /position-paper-on-education/ Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:58:08 +0000 /?p=5557 Introduction

AEGEE-Europe is belonging to the group of European students’ non-governmental organisations. It represents 13 000 students in 40 countries in Europe. Its members are young people that are involved in the higher education institutions and therefore are the main beneficiaries of the education systems in Europe. AEGEE together with its members strives for equal and quality education in Europe that does not set additional barriers for students to study and cares about students’ educational needs. Therefore, it is relevant for AEGEE to take a position about higher education in Europe in order to bring student perspective to its advocacy processes. This position of AEGEE-Europe covers three areas of international aspect of higher education in Europe. First, existence of European mobility programmes for students and their perspective on them. Second, the implementation of the Bologna process in various parts of Europe. Third, the role of international youth organisations in higher education. These three fields are influencing members of AEGEE-Europe in their everyday student lives. It is, thus, of high importance to present their opinion about these topics. Moreover, AEGEE developed many successful higher education projects in the past and had an experience of tackling the topic of education and mobility[1]. This position is based on an internal survey of AEGEE-Europe. It was launched at the beginning of September 2014 and every AEGEE member had an opportunity to contribute to it. Altogether, there were 168 valid answers. Average age of respondents was 23.4 years and average mark given to the importance of education was 4.6[2]. Moreover, 47 % of respondents claimed that they have conducted their studies in at least two countries. The survey consisted of combination of closed and open questions. Simple statistics and content analysis were used as methodological tools during data analysis of the responses. Based on the survey results from AEGEE members, we drafted three recommendations related to European mobility programmes, the Bologna process and the role of youth organisations in Higher Education. These recommendations serve as a basis for advocacy work of AEGEE in the field of Education once they are approved by the General Assembly of AEGEE-Europe.

Context

The emphasis on ‘a knowledge-based economy’ presented in the Strategy of Lisbon[3] gives the education policy a big role to play in order to achieve global competitiveness and Education has been heavily promoted as a means to prevent the growing unemployment as a result of the present financial and economic crisis. Those different elements have characterised the development of a European agenda for education policy and the Education and Training 2020 strategy, which has as one of its objectives to “make lifelong learning and mobility a reality”[4]. With the signing of the Bologna Declaration in 1999, both EU and non-EU Member States committed themselves to coordinate education policies and pursue specific common objectives. They aimed at creating a European Area of Higher Education, in which the diversity of the Education system is conserved, but tools are implemented to ease the recognition of diplomas/qualifications between countries. AEGEE welcomes the improvements which have already been implemented, but regrets that some barriers remain. It is important to ensure mobility in the frame of the studies to be enjoyed fully by all young Europeans. Implementation of the Bologna process has gone further. The creation and implementation of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) changed the face of higher education in Europe. Last EHEA Ministerial Conference, organised in Bucharest in 2002, set clear goals to be achieved – widening access to higher education, quality assurance, and recognition of foreign degrees together with student-oriented perspective[5]. It is true that in the past years, the mobility experience through the academic cursus has become an increasingly valued element in the students’ path. Several studies carried out by youth organisations and completed by EU publications, stress the positive impact of mobility in terms of skills development, both on personal and professional level. Moreover, AEGEE recently carried out a research called Erasmus Voting Assessment that proves that the experience of Erasmus students living in another EU country has a positive impact on the voting behaviour of young people in European elections. The new EU mobility programme Erasmus+ will undoubtedly enable a growing number of young students to carry out part of their studies in another EU country, and we welcome the 19 billion Euros budget allocated, and the objective of 3 million higher education and vocational training students to enjoy mobility programmes.

Data analysis

Since the survey covered three topics of the international dimension of higher education in Europe, the structure of the analysis follows the same line.

Topic: Mobility programmes in Europe

According to results of the survey, AEGEE members are aware of the Erasmus mobility programme (the number is close to 98 %). As a second comes Leonardo da Vinci mobility programme with 57 % of respondents being aware of the programme. Other mobility programmes like Comenius, Grundtvig, Jean Monnet or CEEPUS are recognised by less than 30 % of AEGEE members. 58 % of respondents feel to be personally encouraged to go on mobility programme by their home university in comparison with 31 % that do not. And when it comes to information about different mobility programmes, 61 % of respondents are feeling informed about their possibilities in comparison with 34 % that do not. Most of the information AEGEE members get from their friends (51 %). As a second comes information channel from university office (43 %) and then information from students NGOs (36 %). 43 % of respondents participated in mobility programmes, majority of them through the Erasmus programme (56 out of 72 respondents). Main purpose of the mobility was mostly study exchange. 70 % of the cases got their academic work recognised by their home university, but 30 % did not. In 90 % of cases there was a Learning agreement or other learning objectives signed before the mobility took place. A slight majority of respondents (55 %) found it easy to access the mobility programmes in comparison with 42 % that did not. Among the challenges for accessing mobility programmes, academic, administrational and financial obstacles were equally represented (about 25 % of responses). That means that AEGEE members find it hard to access mobility because of insufficient recognition of credits, slow processes of signing a Learning Agreement, too much paperwork before mobility, insufficient financial support and/or late payments. AEGEE members emphasise problems with communication between students and their universities or students and teachers about mobility programmes, recognition of credits, bureaucratic processes and lack of options to go on mobility.

Topic: Bologna Process

75 % of respondents are aware of the Bologna process and a majority of them claim that their universities are implementing the scheme of bachelor – master – doctoral degree. However, a slight majority of respondents (57 %) consider the Bologna process as a positive development, while 20 % of the respondents have a negative opinion and 23 % have a neutral one[6].

Topic: Role of international youth organisations in higher education

AEGEE locals as international youth organisations are cooperating with universities in 66 % of the cases and only 12 % is not. In two third of the cases, AEGEE members use skills which they acquired in AEGEE during their studies at higher educational institutions. Only 9 % claim otherwise. 26 % of respondents claim that they have the opportunity to get ECTS[7] credits outside of their formal education. Those who do not have this opportunity or do not know about it make up 57 % of the respondents. On the other hand, 57 % of the respondents would argue that their skills learnt in international youth organisation should be recognised by Higher Education institutions. Only 17 % of respondents would not argue so.

Recommendations

Topic: Mobility programmes in Europe

  1. Improve communication about mobility programmes at universities

Almost 50% of the respondents say that they have heard about a mobility programme through friends. This answer sheds light on the importance of the peer group in the level of information, and can raise concerns regarding the information level of young people with fewer opportunities, who might not benefit from this peer influence. Therefore, we recommend the European Commission, and especially the information providers (such as Eurodesk, European Youth Portal), but also the Higher Education Institutions, to increase the promotion of all existing mobility schemes, to provide students with all the information needed to make choices regarding their studying path.

  1. Increase recognition of academic work after mobility took place

The successful implementation of the ECTS has drastically facilitated learner mobility, making it possible to transfer and recognise credits gained in another institution. The Erasmus scheme has brought huge improvements in terms of automatic recognition, thanks to the recognition tools such as the Learning Agreement, the Transcript of Records together with the Recognition Document in the case of mobility for studies. However, the current situation is still far from perfect. This can be done by strengthening the cooperation between universities and full implementation of ECTS credit framework throughout European Higher Education institutions.

  1. Equal access to mobility programmes

Equal opportunities to access mobility programmes is not a reality  so far. Different funding schemes dependent on national contexts create additional barriers for inclusion of some young people who are not able to cover the costs of their mobility. AEGEE believes that all EU regions should provide a minimum of additional support to students, taking into account not only their social situation, but also the country in which they will carry out their studies. Additionally, AEGEE with its membership also outside the European Union strongly supports the opening of mobility programmes to non-EU citizens. Our members outside the borders of the EU face even more exclusion, only on the arbitrary basis of their origin and nationality.

Topic: Bologna Process

  1. Improve the implementation of Bologna process

AEGEE welcomes the idea of creating a common European Higher Education Area. On the other hand, there is still room for improvement. Regarding implementation of Bologna process AEGEE urges to fully implement the three-cycle (bachelor – master – doctoral) of studies and the ECTS framework in . These aspects are still not fully implemented, as our members pointed out in the survey, and therefore they pose obstacles to student mobility in Europe. Moreover, AEGEE advocates for a stronger link between the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR) and the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. EQAR was introduced in 2012 and still does not cover all countries participating in the Bologna Process[8]. Having the same quality indicators of higher education institutions are very important for the completion of EHEA. Last but not least, student participation in the institutional governance of universities needs to be improved. AEGEE welcomes the inclusion of student stakeholders in the process of the Bologna process implementation. What is missing, however, is a stronger emphasis on including students in the institutional matters of their home universities. Students should have a stronger say in the financial issues and staff policies of their universities. This is not the case all around EHEA.

Topic: Role of international youth organisations in higher education

  1. Strengthen the link between international youth organisations and higher education institutions

AEGEE believes that the involvement of students in youth organisations has a very positive impact on the students’ success in Higher Education. Indeed, apart from the skills that young people develop and can use in their studies[9], youth organisations’ involvement also tends to develop attitudes such as persistence, flexibility as well as creativity, which also help students within the frame of their studies. Therefore, AEGEE asks Higher Education Institutions to cooperate further with students’ organisations, and to acknowledge their positive role on the students’ development, through additional support, funding and ECTS credits recognition.

  1. Increase the possibility to get ECTS credits outside of formal education

AEGEE strongly believes in the principles of Lifelong Learning and wants to emphasise the important role of civil society when it comes to designing and implementing lifelong learning strategies.  Moreover, as mentioned in the Communication from the European Commission  ‘Rethinking Education’[10],  AEGEE agrees that flexible learning pathways need to be recognised, namely that the Higher Education Institutions are not the only space where young people can acquire knowledge and competences, and that it is important to better recognise Learning outside Formal Education.

About AEGEE

AEGEE (Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe) is one of Europe’s biggest interdisciplinary student organisations. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines. Founded in 1985 in Paris, today AEGEE has grown to a Network of 13000 friends, present in 200 cities in 40 countries all over Europe. AEGEE puts the idea of a unified Europe into practice. Operating without a national level, AEGEE brings 13000 students directly in touch with each other.  


[1] For example projects like Euducation for Democracy or EURECA or recently Erasmus Voting Assessment.
[2] Mark 5 was the highest one.
[3] European Commission. Accessed on October 15, 2014. Online http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/europe-2020-in-a-nutshell/targets/index_en.htm
[4] European Commission. Accessed on 13.10.2014, Online http://ec.europa.eu/education/policy/strategic-framework/index_en.htm
[5] EHEA Bucharest Communique 2002. Accessed on 13.10.2014. Online http://www.ehea.info/Uploads/(1)/Bucharest%20Communique%202012(1).pdf
[6] This data was analysed by content analysis where positive feelings were linked with words “like”, “good”, “useful” or “support”, negative feelings with words like “don’t like”, “useless” or “bad” and neutral feelings were assigned to responses that did not contain any of these normative words.
[7] European Credit Transfer System.
[8] Bologna Process Implementation Report. 2012. Accessed on 14.10.2014. Online http://www.ehea.info/Uploads/(1)/Bologna%20Process%20Implementation%20Report.pdf
[9] Such as presentation skills, teamwork, time management or communication skills.
[10] European Commission. Accessed on 13.10.2014. Online http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52012DC0669&from=EN

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“If we don’t cry out, who will?” /if-we-dont-cry-out-who-will/ Wed, 04 Jun 2014 10:28:31 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1076 Commeorating 25 years of the Tianammen Square massacre

As a European students’ organisation, we do not often look beyond Europe in these days while so many conflicts are happening in our continent. But today we do. We want to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the crackdown of one of the biggest students’ protests in history, the Tianammen Protests in China, with a million of students demanding for reforms towards freedom and opening of the communist regime. “People were disappointed in the government. They thought, If we don’t cry out, who will?” says Kenneth Lam, who was 20 then. When the Chinese government decided to send the army to stop the protests, hundreds (or thousands) of civilians were killed, and a strong secrecy was imposed. Even today, the Chinese government is obstructing those who want to commemorate or investigate what happened, as International Amnesty denounces.

In spite of the efforts of the Chinese government, the massacre hit the news all over the world. The iconic picture of the man stopping the column of tanks became a symbol of peaceful struggle for democracy. This was a  turning point in history in many levels, and is very relevant this year, when students’ have demonstrated all over our continent demanding more democracy. The Tianammen square can be these days in the Gezi Park in Istanbul, in the Maidan Square in Kyiv, at the streets of Tuzla; it can happen at any time, in any other European city. AEGEE-Europe calls for the European governments to refrain from any violence and to respect the democratic rights of the protestors, to take into consideration the demands of their citizens: in most cases, they just want a more democratic society, more opportunities to participate in the decision process and a better future.

We want to remember all the people who died fighting for their rights in China in 1989, and all those citizens (and specially the students) who faced hard repression from police, got gassed, beaten, severely injured and even killed in the last 12 months in Europe. We are proud of you and we support your demand for democracy anywhere you are.

You can read more in this complete article in Time Magazine.

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AEGEE-Europe celebrates visa-free travel for Moldovan citizens /aegee-europe-celebrates-visa-free-travel-for-moldovan-citizens/ Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:25:26 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1008 Promotion of youth mobility and related programs plays a significant role in the current policy of AEGEE-Europe / European Students’ Forum. The decision of the Council of the European Union on April 3rd, granting Moldova with a visa-free travel regime, brought on the hope that further developments in this sphere are to come shortly for other members of the Eastern Partnership program of the European Union.

Throughout its activities, AEGEE-Europe has always proved that Europe can be a border-less territory where democracy, respect for human rights and freedom are treated on equal terms. In regards to the decision made by the Council, we would like to asseverate that freedom of movement is an essential right that every European citizen should be granted with. Moreover, we believe it should not apply only to residents of the European Union. Within the mentioned framework, our emphasis is deservedly put on Moldova, the first Eastern Partnership country which has been given a chance to move forward with the integration processes.

The visa-free access to the Schengen area for Moldovan citizens with biometric passports is a result of the visa liberalisation dialogue between the European Union and Moldova initiated in 2010. Since then, the country has successfully implemented many reforms in areas such as the strengthening of the rule of law, combating organised crime, corruption, illegal migration and improving the administrative capacity in border control and security of documents. Although this meaningful sign of the European solidarity is highly welcomed by our association, we still assume all the Eastern Partnership countries as the integral parts of the European Community with a right to well-managed and secure mobility.

AEGEE-Europe has put an effort on the integration of the countries from the Eastern Partnership region in the recent years. First, highlighting the relevance of  the region in our Strategic Plan 2011-14 (Focus Area “Bridging Europe”); and second, through AEGEE’s own Eastern Partnership project, which has been active for three years with great success, and which is starting now its second cycle with a new team and updated objectives.

 

Written by Adrian Browarczyk,
Project Manager of the Eastern Partnership Project of AEGEE-Europe

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Mc Kinsey report highlights some of the problems behind youth unemployment /mc-kinsey-report-highlights-problems-youth-unemployment/ /mc-kinsey-report-highlights-problems-youth-unemployment/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 14:43:12 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=956 “In Europe, 74 percent of education providers were confident that their graduates were prepared for work, but only 38 percent of youth and 35 percent of employers agreed” states the Mc Kinsey report, which was released Mid-January 2014. This statement, based on a meticulous research carried out toward 5,300 youth, 2,600 employers, and 700 post-secondary education providers across 8 countries, brings to light the difference of perspectives and the lack of clear understanding among Education providers on the reality of the situation for young people willing to enter the job market.

This research reminds us that apart from the lack of job offers, another key issue is the existing skills mismatch between what Education providers are providing and the actual needs of the companies. These and other factors ended up in 5.6 million young people being unemployed in Europe.

AEGEE-Europe is worried to see that the situation for young people is still blocked and leaves so many young job seekers really unmotivated, desperate to find a job that not only enables them to pay their rent, but also fulfills their expectations. On that matter, we can only keep on calling Higher Education institutions to rethink their learning models and to cooperate further with companies in order to understand, and then translate in their programs, the skills that are being asked for on the job market.

AEGEE-Europe also wants to stress the crucial role of Non-Formal Education players in that field, since skills considered as crucial from employers, such as “spoken communication and work ethic” to quote the Mc Kinsey’s report, are exactly those that volunteers in youth organisations get to experience and develop. Moreover, not only do Youth Organisations provide soft skills needed by the job market, but they give also valuable work experience, which often job applicants lack. For this reason, AEGEE-Europe can only repeat the need for volunteers’ engagement and experiences to be recognised by key players, such as Educational centres (with ECTS compensations), Employers (by taking seriously into account volunteers’ experience) and public institutions (through validation of Non-Formal Education competences).

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Greek universities: when austerity threatens recuperation /greek-universities-when-austerity-threatens-recuperation/ Thu, 24 Oct 2013 10:41:03 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=790 Austerity has been the recipe of European Commission to get out of the crisis. Even when it is true that the drastic reduction of income made impossible for most governments to keep the expenses at the level of the years before 2008, this is a dangerous strategy if kept for too long. Austerity is a temporary solution to adjust to a new situation and cannot compromise fields of the economy that should contribute to the future growth, which is the long term exit to the crisis.

Some of these sectors are obvious: education, science and research, which are at the roots of the 2020 strategy and the transition to a knowledge-based economy. However, some countries’ policies seem not to understand the same.

Last week, MEP Nikos Chrysogelos and MEP Rebecca Harms hosted a Round Table Discussion with rectors of some of the biggest universities in Greece. They wanted to present to the European Parliament a call for support, since the Greek government policy of cuts has reached a point when the next measures will suffocate them. After cuts in funding and non-replacement of staff, university has already contributed already to austerity enormously. But the policy of mobility in the public sector threatens now to force them to inactivity by depriving the universities of  the staff they need to keep security in the campuses, keep their laboratories open and running, attend the students in secretaries, manage the whole paperwork of the different faculties…

In spite of the crisis, the Greek universities have managed to keep their good position in the rankings of universities but this will change if the Greek government does not step back from their intentions of transferring (based on supposed redundancies) up to 40% of the staff of some of the big 8 universities. Institutions like the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens will lose 498 out of 1.316 admin staff. Others will not do much better: National Technical University of Athens (339 out of 882), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (169 out of 747), University of Crete (49 out of 363), University of Patras (118 out of 442), University of Ioaninna (42 out of 288), University of Thessaly (33 out of 302) and Athens University and Economics and Business (35 out of 190). The ratio of administrative staff per student is already quite low in Greece (3,6 per 100 active students) when compared with other countries (in Germany is 11,5 per 100), therefore the implementation of this reform would paralize the activity of the universities.

Rectors claim that these cuts will make it impossible for Greek Universities to contribute to the European-funded projects they are now working at, which will lead to losses of funding and further worsening of the situation.

Moreover, rectors denounce is the fact that this measure is sold to the general public as an imposition coming from the European institutions, when the truth is that they are not included in the memorandum signed between Greece and the international lenders (the Troika). This is once more an example on how governments use Europe as a scapegoat to deny their responsibility in unpopular measures.

The rectors communicate that the Greek Government has never engaged with them in a direct negotiation, in opposition to what happened in other countries where the crisis has forced cuts in the public sector. Even worse, the Government refuses to clarify the methodology used to calculate the redundancies and the needs of each university, while the studies that universities have conducted show that they are already understaffed.

The rector from the Aegeean University of Athens, Paris Tsarkas, fears that behind this strategy may exist an interest to weaken the public universities in Greece, seen as a focus of opposition to the government policy, and suspects a hidden agenda to create favourable conditions to transfer students from public to private universities. This situation reminds very much the direction of other conservative governments such as Spain which face nowadays protests caused by the same kind of measures.

Since the European Parliament proved again this week that for them austerity cannot cut future opportunities for growth, we hope that they answer the call for support from the Greek Rectors’ Conference and avoid this unjustifiable attack to the Greek Universities.

You can read more about the Round Table Discussion in this article from www.worlduniversitynews.com.

Written by Miguel Gallardo, Projects Director AEGEE-Europe

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EVA: Does Erasmus make you a better European citizen? /eva-erasmus-european-citizen-elections/ Tue, 22 Oct 2013 09:57:24 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=782 The first meeting of the Erasmus Voting Assesment project (EVA) took place last week in Brussels, at the office of AEGEE-Europe.  This new project aims at answering fundamental questions concerning active citizenship and participation in democratic processes of young students, and in particular the ERASMUS students. Through an in-depth survey, the project will measure the feeling of “being European” among young students and, furthermore, assess any possible existing correlation between having been an ERASMUS student and the level of engagement in the European society. In addition, this project aims to investigate the voting behaviour of Erasmus and university students across Europe in the European Parliament’s elections.

AEGEE-Europe/European Students’ Forum, The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and Generation Europe Foundation partnered up and launched this new project, funded in September 2013 by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme.

The coordinator of the project, AEGEE-Europe, hosted the kick-off conference in its office in Brussels. The consortium discussed the main project milestones, and some of the first decisions were already taken. There will be 3 study visits in December to three big European universities, recognised for hosting thousands of Erasmus students: Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain), Sciences PO Toulouse (France) and Aarhus Universitet (Denmark). A conference in January 2014 with mark the official presentation of the project, involving relevant policy makers and stakeholders, and presenting the survey. The official website for the project will be also launched in January 2014.

The project consortium is supported by an Advisory Board consisting by two European associations with relevant experience in the field of European citizenship and in sociological research: European Movement International (EMI) and the European Sociological Association (ESA).

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Health4Youth Project welcomes the Public Health Committee new directive on tobacco /health4youth-tobacco-directive/ Tue, 27 Aug 2013 15:29:20 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=704 Health4Youth project of AEGEE-Europe welcomes the directive presented by the Public Health Committee  on 11th of July 2013, against slim and flavoured cigarettes [1].

H4Y would like to emphasize the significance of this measure. In our daily work, we notice that many students experiment with slim and flavoured cigarettes, also because of the way they look and taste: this makes many young people think they are harmless. However, as research has shown [2], smoking slim and flavoured cigarettes is often a first step towards smoking real cigarettes and towards various degrees of addiction. It is of great importance that this measure is implemented EU-wide. If countries would deal separately with this matter, the positive effects would be much weaker. Countries that would not enforce this type of directive would become attractive destinations for buyers from neighbouring countries, something favoured by the high mobility of the European students nowadays, which is something AEGEE-Europe very much supports.

Health4Youth is a project group launched by the European student association AEGEE. It aims to encourage a healthy lifestyle among students in Europe, by creating a large pool of knowledgeable students about this topic. It believes that for students being able to live a healthier lifestyle, obstacles such as flavoured cigarettes should be banned with immediate effect. The Public Health Committee is therefore doing a great job by banning this product. The Health4Youth project is glad to see that strong measures are being taken against this strategy to get young people addicted.

 

[1] www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/content/20130708STO16805/html/Public-health-committee-votes-to-ban-slim-and-flavoured-cigarettes

[1] As found at: http://www.legacyforhealth.org/newsroom/press-releases/flavored-tobacco-continues-to-play-a-role-in-tobacco-use-among-young-adults


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Deportation of a French student in Turkey as a consequence of the #Gezi protests /deportation-elise-couvert-turkey-gezi/ Wed, 03 Jul 2013 14:53:38 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=658 Turkey is not in the news anymore. The focus of the media shifted to more pressing events in other parts of the world, like Brazil (first because of the massive protests there, later because of a football championship). Even the new massive protests in Egypt are not on the first page of the newspapers anymore; after one month of people in the street, tear gas and messages against their government, attention is focused now in where in the world is hidden Mr. Snowden.

However, in Turkey normality has not come back. There are still groups of citizens which non-violent protest on the streets, while most of the people recover from their injuries at home. Citizens try to forget the nightmares of running in front of the police or being detained, and some live with fear that their government may find that they were active on the protests in Facebook or twitter, and will go after them. Something has however changed among the Turkish youth, and as one of them voiced out, the difference is that now they “hope that things will change”.

There is one face of the conflict that has not received enough attention. Let me tell you the case of Elisa Couvert: a French student who, after being Erasmus in Istanbul last year, decided to stay and study a postgraduate course there. She also was volunteering for the Human Rights Association. When the protests started, she joined the crowd claiming for more freedom and more democracy in the country where she had decided to spend several years of her life. She ended up searching refuge from tear gas in the office of a political party, where police entered and detained several people. She was kept in detention for too long without any charge, and finally freed just to see, some days later, how her residence permit had been revoked. She was therefore deported last week back to France.

News report that during the whole process, she was denied the right to information, the right for an interpreter, she was kept way too long in detention without charges… Not to mention that the conditions of the detention center were quite poor and she was treated with little respect. This happened to a foreigner, to a citizen of the European Union, therefore we can assume that their own citizens have suffered the same fate, or even worse. Special concern has been raised among Human Rights NGOs for the treatment of the minorities which were so active in the Turkish protests.

It is sad that Turkey has decided to deport a Human Rights activist, but this can be seen as part of the whole strategy of blaming external agents for the protests. Instead of reflecting on the real causes of the discontent, the government of RT Erdogan tried to find a scapegoat abroad. The crisis management of the protests by the authorities, instead of calming down the situation, dragged more and more people to the streets with inflammatory messages and outrageous treatment in the mass media. People answered with humour and turned then to Social Media for getting the information, which caused Twitter to be accused of being “the worst menace for society”.

National TV showed penguin documentaries instead of protest news

The case of Elise Couvert has had almost no impact on European news. This lack of attention in media and the lack of reaction of the French Government (and the European institutions) to this violation of the rights of one of its citizens is very worrying. The Turkish government has failed to provide a justification to the deportation, there was no solid evidence against Elisa Couvert, but she has seen herself expelled from Turkey in another authoritarian decision of the Turkish government. AEGEE-Europe calls for a reaction on this matter, we want the European Union to stand with this girl who just wanted to pursue her studies in a more democratic Turkey.

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Welcome, Croatia! /croatia-eu-welcome/ Mon, 01 Jul 2013 16:10:06 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=644 During the last week of June we have been warming up for welcoming Croatia in the European Union: the European institutions have focused big part of their communication in introducing the new member to the rest of the club through figures, infographics and cool videos highlighting the assets of Croatia or sharing the impressions of some relevant European politicians (part 1 and Part 2), or promoting the whole idea of enlargement itself.

 

Commissioners welcoming Croatia (click to see video)

Moreover. the European Commission held a Youth conference in Zagreb last week, where 80 AEGEE members, and dozens of young Europeans from other NGOs, could meet representatives of the European Commission, the European Youth Forum, and other stakeholders from the European and national (Croatian) level. Topics as entrepreneurship and unemployment, the challenges for the Croatian youth in the new reality, or the advantages and disadvantages of a Croatia inside the EU28 were some of the raised topics. There was also time for a creativity workshop where European youth had to prepare videos with positive messages about enlargement. The results were impressive and gave bright ideas which maybe we will see implemented in future EU campaigns.

Today, Croatia closes a chapter in its history and opens a new one, one where Croatians will be part again of something bigger. For some people, the shadow of the Yugoslavian past is still felt. There are those who fear a dilution of national identity. But the EU is different to Yugoslavia, in the EU28 diversity is an added value, art and culture will be celebrated, and the language will be preserved.

Croatia comes however with a list of challenges that cannot be ignored. Youth unemployment over 50% makes it third of the EU28 list, after Spain and Greece. while 5 years of recession have weakened the economy. The enthusiasm for the EU has decreased lately and in the first elections for the EP representatives from today until the next EP elections, only 20% of Croatians went to vote. Finally, there is a risk that a EU who is fighting back the current crisis situation cannot deliver for the high expectations that some Croatians have raised on the accession. On its benefit, the small size of the country should ease the whole process of assimilation of the new country.

There are also reasons to believe that the accession of Croatia is good news. Looking back just 20 years ago, Croatia was being devastated by a war. The EU was created to restore trust among nations and to provide a durable peace, and the accession of Croatia is an encouraging message to other ex-Yugoslavian republics to speed up the process and make themselves ready for the EU. The real end of the Yugoslav wars will be when they all belong to the EU and they will solve their differences through negotiations and diplomacy. Do not take me for a fool; I know it will not be an easy process and neither a fast one.

Some people are wondering what can be the benefit of the accession for the rest of the EU. We have had Croatians inside AEGEE for more than 20 years and we have seen how big contribution they can make to building Europe from a youth perspective. Now it will be the EU28 who will have the opportunity to bring out the great potential of the Croatian citizens in benefit of all the European Union.

 

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League of Young Voters: mobilising people across Europe /lyv-league-young-voters-elections-european-parliament-201/ Fri, 08 Mar 2013 12:05:03 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=492 During February, the European Youth Forum held a Capacity Building event where 38 people from all over Europe, including representatives of 23 National Youth Councils, discussed the project League of Young Voters. The aim of the LYV is to mobilise young people, understood as between 15-35 years old, for European Parliament elections in 2014. The focus will be on the issues concerning young people and the inclusion of those into the political agenda. Without a partisan bias, LYV seeks for reflecting the position of the political families in those issues, and debates are foreseen to be developed.

On the first day of the event, the participants had the opportunity of learning about several aspects of the League of Young Voters Initiative, as for example the logo, and they visited the European Parliament for holding a meeting there with representatives of different political groups (EPP, PES, ALDE and Greens) in order to discuss the role of young people in the upcoming European elections 2014.

The second day was devoted to presentation and discussions on different topics related with the project, such as electoral campaigns, communications and multimedia and funding and financing. A milestone of that event was the presentation of Youth in Action call for the European Elections 2014 by Pascal Lejeune from DG EAC. This presentation was specially interesting because it showed the guidelines that organizations willing to apply have to follow in order to get their actions more successfully funded. Surprisingly, the open call has not been announced yet.

The last day was dedicated to the individual group and putting in common different ideas, and furthermore the development of future synergies that will contribute to strength the projects and to make them more complete.

To sum up, the event was an excellent opportunity to get to know people that are really attached with young issues and with close relations with National Youth Councils with whom the collaboration for future projects could become a valuable asset for AEGEE.

Written by Javier Mendoza, AEGEE-Tenerife

 

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