After the inspiring morning programme, the moderator of the day, Jackie Davis who was doing an amazing job, gave the floor to Martin Schulz. Mr. Schulz, who is switching from the European political arena to the German one after his current term as the President of the European Parliament, gave his view on the past and current matters. His speech was built on three pillars. Firstly, the Brussels bashing has to stop. Secondly, we have to recognise that the EU is democratic and that if there’s a democratic deficit this is found in the Council not in the European Parliament. Thirdly, we need to provide the EU with tools that enable the addressing of current matters effectively. The audience showed their appreciation for the speech of Mr. Schuls by giving him a big applaus when he left the stage.
The speech was followed by the second panel debate of the day. This time with Prof. Bruno de Witte, Maria João Rodrigues, George Papaconstantinou, and Janis Emmanouilidis who expressed their thoughts on the past, current matters, and future challenges. Mr. Papaconstantinou argued that when the Maastricht Treaty was signed we thought that the hard work was done and that the history had come to an end. The same argument has Mr Papaconstantinou regarding the Euro, “everyone fell asleep once the Euro was implemented.” Furthermore, he claimed that especially now we need political courage. This was confirmed by Mrs. Rodrigues who foresees a test of leadership in the near future. Mr Emmanouilidis focussed on the problems within the Member States which, according to him, undermine an effective EU. Prof. de Witte made clear that he believes that we need to stick with representative democracy instead of holding referenda which is a “lousy tool”. Most agreed that big institutional change could be beneficial. However, in these times of Euroscepticism this would be almost impossible to implement successfully and may even backfire.
After this interesting debate, wherein moderater Jackie Davis openly admitted she would love to switch to a European passport instead of her British one, it was time for the speech by Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem. With the quote “Monetary instability comes with a price” he didn’t hide his feelings of discontentment with the current monetary vulnerability of the Eurozone. Mr. Dijsselbloem also focused on the past which is key to know where we stand today. To combine the freedoms of Europe with stability, security and opportunity is the key future task according to the Eurogroup President.
Then it was the time for the young generation to ask questions and give their view on the past, current matters, and future goals of the EU. They showed their enthusiasm by asking question after question forcing the moderator to step in as the programme was already behind the planned time schedule due to the many questions and comments by the students.
Theo Bovens and Annemarie Penn-te Strake opened and also closed the European Summit. Annemarie Penn-te Strake believes that we are all Europe and we must make an effort to make people, especially those unknown with the EU, see the value of European cooperation. Theo Bovens closed the day with the remark the he is a European, hinting to the famous speech by President Kennedy in Berlin 1963. Almost all participants acknowledged that flaws do exist in the European Union, but it is unanimously agreed that the benefits of European integration outweigh the flaws by far. Europe might have lost its shine but not its ambition to revive the hopes and dreams that came with the Maastricht Treaty.
Text: Brian Megens
Photography: Johannes Timmermans