#TheFutureIsYours Strengthening European democracy
“The Conference on the Future of Europe — Europe will be us! For a more democratic Europe, more united and closer to young people!”
Event report available
A group of students from the last high school classes of Pavia, Milan and Varese participated, together with about a thousand children, in a project of education for European citizenship in the school year 2020-2021, following remotely 7 modules of conferences ranging from the history of European integration, the institutional structure of the Union, economic and monetary history, the future of digital, to what the European institutions do for young people. They discussed it with the professors and their comrades and then decided to follow, outside school hours, the final phase of the project: a meeting on NEXT GENERATION EU and the Conference on the Future of Europe with the organisations that promoted the project: the European Association of Teachers, the European Federalist Movement and the European Federalist Youth. In order to deepen the issues of European unification, already dealt with at school, they decided to participate actively in the debate of the Conference on the Future of Europe and found themselves discussing, finally in presence, on 1 July 2021, in Via Villa Glori, 8 in Pavia at the headquarters of the European organisations.Introducing the discussion Tommaso Costa, Paolo Milanesi and Camilla Bastianon of the GFE, Anna Costa of the European Association of Teachers and Franco Spoltore of the national direction of the European Federalist Movement.
Seat of European Federalist Associations
Via Villa Glori 8, 27100 Pavia, Italia
Via Villa Glori 8, 27100 Pavia, Italia
Event reportSummary OF THE MEETING The meeting, held on 1 July 2021 from 17.30 a.m. at the headquarters of European federalist associations, saw the active and enthusiastic participation of 14 young people, of whom 5 were women. On the whole, the participants expressed their voice for a greater commitment in the Europeanist and federalist sense, aimed at involving other peers, even beyond the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Tommaso Costa, student of the European Federalist Youth of Pavia, introduces the debate initially illustrating aims and tools related to the Conference on the Future of Europe and the reasons that prompted a group of high school students to discuss it with European federalist associations in order to promote the knowledge and dissemination of information concerning the current state and perspectives of the European Union, increasingly present in the life of everyone and considering the issues of the platform. He indicated the functioning of the platform, asked everyone to sign up and explained the need to summarise the proposals and ideas that will come out of the discussion. It is an exercise of democracy to which we must participate through dialogue and deepening in common, as through this event. He asked everyone questions on which to start setting the debate: < Given the complexity of our world, can national states alone solve citizens’ problems? What works and what is not working in the EU? Is the process democratic? Or does it still depend too much on the decisions of national governments and bound by treaties which provide for unanimity and often block the process of progress in political unity? On the occasion of the pandemic, we had an example of European solidarity with the Next Generation EU, which created a European debt to finance recovery. Should it be in the same way that Europe should have a budget independent of the contributions of the Member States? What do we young people expect from Europe? Do we feel European? How can we help build a Europe capable of looking forward to a future?> Paolo Milanesi, President of the European Youth Federalist of Pavia, lists the topics of discussion of the platform and points out the fact that according to the existing treaties the Union does not have full decision-making competence in almost all these areas that represent challenges to the survival of an autonomous and capable of acting Europe. Anna Costa, head of the Pavia Group of the European Teachers’ Association (AEDE), highlights the enormous achievements of Europe, first of all peaceful coexistence, the single market, economic development, freedom of movement, the single currency between nineteen countries, but also the limits of this Union which are highlighted during the crises that have taken place over time, those monetary ones, before the euro, the economic and financial ones and the pandemic in which it is more common. According to Daniele Frigerio of the Copernicus High School in Pavia, a crucial theme is the environment, the climate issue is the starting point that conditions and will condition our lives. The Union has already done a great deal in this area, is investing massively through the funds of the Next Generation EU and has set limits on CO2 emissions, but the decisions of some countries such as Poland, which depends on 80 % of its coal needs to resist alternative energy policies and the lack of a genuine single EU decision-making in this field, give the idea that the risks that humanity is taking are not well understood. Camilla Bastianon, secretary of the European Federalist Youth of Pavia, while agreeing with Daniele points out the difficulties of countries that have productions based on polluting substances have difficulty modifying them in a short time, as is the case with the restriction of the use of plastics. It is not possible overnight to switch from 80 % of the energy to coal to wind or anything or nothing plastic. We should have a genuine, unified European policy to encourage good environmental policies and have the authority to penalise misbehavior. For Anastasia Rimorini of the Besta High School in Milan, one of the most serious problems is migration, in which all the countries, not directly involved, tend to alienate themselves from the choices and often the countries of first reception, like Italy have found themselves alone to manage situations of great difficulty and this has fomented disappointments against the Union in favor of non-Europeanist forces. Anna Costa points out that the problem must be dealt with at a European level, not only for the assistance and dislocation of arrivals, but also for a development policy in favour of those countries from which we emigrate. But this requires a genuine European policy. Camilla Bastianon gives an example of the Greek crisis that was resolved thanks to Europe. In short, without European solidarity one does not remain autonomous and risks becoming colonies of this or that superpower. For Marcello Cristiani of the Taramelli High School in Pavia, there are disparities in democracy in Europe, limits to freedom of expression such as those in Hungary and Poland, which should not be tolerated in a Union inspired by human rights, democracy and solidarity. For Sara Rocchetto and Anastasia Rimorini, of the Besta High School in Milan, in order to feel more European, we must feel Europe as part of our life and, instead, nationalism often prevails, as is the case with Orban Hungary or as it has been with Brexit, we must acquire a European identity. According to Federico Villani, negative nationalistic attitudes also prevail in our society where we do not miss the opportunity to accuse other countries of anti-European attitudes or to blame the European Union for what is wrong. Does Camilla Bastianon wonder if there is an alternative to belonging to Europe? For Italy with a debt of more than EUR 2600 billion, with very high rates of unemployment, especially young people, with many companies closing because of the pandemic, there would be the risk of default. Paolo Milanesi refers to the fall of consensus on Europe, a kind of short circuit between citizens and institutions, matured also following the economic crises, which have created dissatisfaction, causing nationalists and populists to emerge in some countries more in difficulty. We federalists several years ago promoted a referendum to give constituent powers to the European Parliament, which was won by more than 80 % of Italians in favour. In this regard, Franco Spoltore, of the MFE National Directorate, pointed out the need that as Spinelli wanted, the European Parliament should acquire more complete powers at least in the fields of budget and foreign policy. Martina Busata of the High School of Gallarate also agrees with the idea of developing a wider culture of European identity, an identity that, according to Giulio Savarè of the European Federalist Youth of Pavia, characterises Europeans well, respect for example the Chinese, for a culture rich in comparison and diversity but all inspired by common values of freedom, democracy and solidarity. To feel more part of this Europe we must strengthen Erasmus also in high school, said Daniele Orlandi of the Copernicus High School in Pavia. According to Giorgia Marcucci of the Taramelli High School of Pavia, if linguistic diversity is a difficulty, we need to know more languages, because language is the basis of a people’s culture and Europe can only be based on the different cultures that enrich it. Anna Costa recalls the fact that the Union must not and cannot be characterised by a cultural monism, a uniformity but by unity on certain concrete and fundamental aspects such as the challenges we face, while maintaining our diversity. It is the federal model, based precisely on unity in diversity, considered essential and linked to our different city, regional, national and European identities. Today we are here, says Daniele Frigerio because your European federalist associations have entered our classes, through the video-conferences that gave us information on the functioning of the Union, have proposed a dialogue and allowed us to discuss and debate with our comrades and teachers. But many of our friends have not had this chance! There is still too little talk about Europe at school! According to Tommaso Tagliani, information about the Conference is lacking in the media, it seems that we want to curb the drive for democratic participation in the construction of a more united and more effective Europe and that we want to maintain the status quo. Camilla Bastianon recalls the fact that we are the generations of young people already born in Europe on the basis of the Maastricht Treaty. We all have a European passport, but few people wonder what it means. We must all become the vehicle of transmission of commitment and knowledge about Europe, we must commit ourselves immediately to spreading ideas and information about the Conference with our friends and relatives, we try to connect with the intermediate bodies of the various associations Paolo Milanesi, he wonders how to involve citizens more concretely in building a more democratic and close Europe. At this exceptional moment dominated by the pandemic and the difficulties it is clear to everyone that we can't do it alone. We act on the platform through group initiatives such as these and bring out our ideas that the Plenary must consider if we have been able to focus on the most shared ones. Tommaso Costa suggests, on his return to school in September or to the university for those who have finished this year, to give the floor to urge the most active young people to make a commitment for Europe. Main TEMIs discussed The theme of European identity, to be sought around the construction of a different Europe, truly united and not as a confrontation between the cultures of the various countries and the need for school to become a centre of training for the European citizen. A European identity based on Unity in Diversity, according to the federal model that requires union for what is needed and diversity of culture, customs and customs. Safeguarding the principles of European democracy, our values of freedom and social justice, which can be safeguarded if Europe speaks with one voice in order to solve the great challenges facing it and that the European Parliament gains more powers in the essential areas of budget and foreign policy, including by amending the Treaties. The limits of this Union, which is still too much intergovernmental, are demonstrated by the inability to take decisions in certain essential areas such as foreign policy, environmental and migration policy, and pandemic policy. We need more cohesion and a genuine unitary policy at European level. That is why the right of veto must be lifted. Ideas THAT THE PARTICIPANTS DECIDED TO SUSTENERE The basic idea that the participants supported is that of a European identity that can really be strengthened with a more politically united Europe with a federal-type structure. Schools must become a centre for the training of European citizens throughout Europe, respecting their diverse backgrounds, cultures and specificities. European democracy is also protected by giving more powers to the European Parliament, the only body directly elected by the citizens, at least in the essential areas of an autonomous budget and in foreign policy. The right of veto, which periodically paralyses the fundamental decisions of the Union, must be abolished.
17:30 - 19:30
Number of participants 14
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