XXI. E D S W i n t e r Un i v e r s i t y 2011
“EUROPEAN AND REGIONAL INTEGRATION - THE ROLE OF YOUTH”
Possibilities for young people in business, politics, and science
January 31-February 5, 2011
EDS 50TH Anniversary
The first participants of the EDS Winter University gathered together on 31st of January for the welcoming dinner, where they were addressed by EDS Chairman Bence Bauer and Co-organisers of the event; representatives from the EDS member organisations in Belgium - Edh and CDS.
Tuesday, 1st of February
EDS XXI Winter University was officially opened on Tuesday, 1st of February with a panel discussion “Belgium - One Country - Two Societies?”. In the panel discussion senator Peter Van Rompuy from CD&V fraction, Prof. Pierre Vercauteren from the Catholic University of Mons, and senator Francis Delpérée, (Parliamentary group leader of CDH) shared their opinions on the language politics in the multi-linguistc country, balanced social and economical policy for the different regions of Belgium, and history. The discussion was moderated by Roland Freudenstein, Deputy Director and Head of Research at the Centre of European Studies. The presentations and discussion afterwards were very lively; participants had the opportunity not only to garner knowledge about the history and current political disputes of Belgium, including the complicated process of the government formation, but also enjoy the strong debating of the panelists, representing both main linguistic communities of the country.
That afternoon all Winter University participants gathered for the highlight of the event – the official Festivity of EDS’ 50th Anniversary at the Palais des Académies in Brussels.
The festivity assembled more than 250 participants, bringing together more than 50 former Bureau members and almost 100 alumni. The keynote speaker was Carl Bildt, former EDS Chairman and former Prime Minister of Sweden, currently Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden.
Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament ret. and Chairman of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, as well as Wilfried Martens, President of the European People´s Party and Othmar Karas, Vice Chairman and Treasurer of the EPP Group, formed a panel discussion, moderated by Tomi Huhtanen, Director of the Centre for European Studies and former EDS Vice Chairman. Antonio Lopez-Isturiz, Secretary General of the European People´s Party addressed the audience with some truly inspiring closing remarks.
After the panel the special anniversary video and the special edition of BullsEye were presented. The Festivity was concluded with dinner and informal talks amongst all generations of EDS and its friends.
Wednesday, 2nd of February
The sessions started with introductory remarks on the conference topic ”European and regional integration – the role of youth” by József Szájer, Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group. He detailed the role of young people in the integration processes of our continent.
The first panel gave us the opportunity to meet four Ambassadors to the EU,;the representatives of the Visegrad countries in Europe. They emphasised the twentieth anniversary of the Visegrad cooperation at a time where the Czech Republic already chairs the EU Council, Hungary and Poland are chairing the Council in 2011, and Slovakia is chairing the Visegrad cooperation. Combined, they are as strong as France and Germany. The four countries work towards not only a technical cooperation in the EU institutions, they share a lot of common ideas in different respects.
The second panel addressed the challenges of the western Balkans. Günther Fehlinger, former EDS Chairman and international development advisor in Albania, stressed the division between the ‘old’ Northern countries and the new small countries in the South (Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo). Peter Jungen, SME Union President as well as the MEP Eduard Kukan, underlined the interest in technologies and innovation giving these countries a chance in the globalised economy. Jan Mühlfeit, Chairman of Microsoft Europe and Staffan Jerneck, CEPS director, completed the panel and confirmed that the enlargement fatigue in western societies was not shared by these young countries knocking on the door.
The third panel was dedicated to the Eastern Partnership. Jana Kobzova, Analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, stated that relations with some governments of the region were difficult. Therefore the EU took advantage of relations with the civil society which had met in 2009 and 2010. MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski reminded the audience that the Eastern partnership was possible because of the Union for the Mediterranean: the EU has to speak with one voice to her neighbours in the south or in the east, even if European citizens do not feel concerned to the same extent for these external countries. Deutsche Bank representative in Brussels Dr. Ansgar Tietmeyer, confirmed the good path of some countries (such as Georgia and Moldova) but insisted on the wish expressed by the business world for a stable legal system, less corruption and good relations with the IMF. Eugeniusz Smolar, Visiting senior fellow at the Centre for European studies, directed the panel, which expressed a positivity and hope for our neighbours.
During dinner in the European Parliament, Paul Rübig, MEP, Chairman of SME Union, addressed the participants with some experiences of his parliamentary work. He emphasised the need for young people ‘s involvement, and the work for a knowledge based society.
Thursday, 3rd of February
On the 4th day of the Winter University, EDS visited the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve. After arriving we had the chance to walk around the interesting city which was build according to the needs of the students, and it composes an ideal place for them. During the morning sessions the participants were split in three groups and participated in three different workshops - on leadership, on the EU volunteering year, and the Bologna Process. Following that we had the opportunity to meet with the students’ council and the Academic authorities of the university in order to learn more about the structure and the way of working at the University, and the Wallonian education model in general. Vincent Wertz, Pro-rector of the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, and Evelyn Leonard, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Political and Social Sciences, described the foundation of the old Louvain in 1425 and the divide between Flemish and French speaking parts, leading to the creation of Louvain-la-Neuve forty years ago. The city counts today one half of its population as students. In Louvain, the Bologna process was an opportunity to deeply rework, redesign, and refresh the curricula. Jerôme Nsanzimana and Thomas Moreau, members of Aglouvain (Student Council of Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve) talked about the student participation in the university's councils and student life. If they achieve 20% participation in the student elections, they are automatically able to nominate 20% of the members in all the councils.
In the afternoon session, the Permanent Working Groups took place in the university’s facilities. All participants did excellent work in perfecting the motions and resolution that would be proposed for adoption in the Council Meeting that would take place the following day.
Didier Lambert, Vice-rector of the UCL, told us about his function in charge of students’ affairs and detailed the "kots" (student dorm) à projets or KAP, where 6 or 7 students live together during one year with a common project for the environment, music or other interests, in exchange for rent. Maxime Prevost, chairman of the cdh group at the walloon parliament, represented the challenges of the Walloon region in the 21st century.
The day ended with a dinner at Piano restaurant located between the student dorms.
Friday, 5th of February( EDS Council meeting)
This day was dedicated to the EDS Council Meeting session which took place at Cabinet DN, the company of former EDS Chairman (2001-2003) Jacob Lund Nielsen. Mr. Lund Nielsen addressed the delegates with some words about his time in EDS and encouraged EDS activists to stay committed within EDS.
In the Council the conference resolution and other motions were adopted , including support for Yulia Tymoshenko, and for the opposition in Belarus. Especially in these crucial times we have to remain actively pursuing democracy in these countries. Also, the new voting right reform was adopted, providing an EDS much enlarged since its foundation, with a more balanced system.
In the evening, during the farewell dinner, the EDS Chairman on behalf of Bureau thanked the hosts’ international secretaries - Artur Issaev from CDS Belgium and Germaine Nsanzinama from eDH Belgium - for their help in organising an excellent event. After that, participants joined the Liberty Ball; the event held to commemorate the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan.
In total the event, held in the heart of Europe, brought together 130 young people from more than 30 organisations and 30 countries to strengthen their political networks and to get to know both Belgium and EU politics.