Today, Europe and its future appear to be more controversial and uncertain than they were a few years ago. Observing a trend of countries starting to become rather nationalist and the tendency of distancing themselves from the EU, Europe is facing some challenging problems. These and similar thoughts motivated us, students of the initiative FS Economy & Politics, to attend the third European Youth Debate in Milan: a three-day forum focusing on Europe and its future.
The EYD is a political conference organized by the Bocconi University student association European Generation. Within three days, 100 passionate and motivated students from all over the world discuss the future of Europe. Divided in four roundtables, working on anti-terrorism and common defense, neighbouring policy, education, and the digital single market. The aim is to produce a final document providing real suggestions on how the EU should proceed with those challenges. As the forum is under the patronage of the European Commission, the final document is sent to representatives of the European Union.
First, let me give you abrief overview of the event’s structure: Day 1 starts with an official opening ceremony which is followed by the first roundtable discussion session. The sessions continue on Day 2, and the results are presented on Day 3: The final debate. Here, everyone comes back together in a general assembly and all roundtable proposals written in the past two days are discussed and voted upon. When they are approved, they will be added to the final document which, as already stated above, will be then send to the EU.
For me, and I think most participants would agree, the most remarkable thing of the event were our roundtable discussions. During our debate, it was clear how controversial most topics are; even those ones which seemed to be quite straightforward (geo barriers within the digital single market, for example). Finding a compromise everyone at least partially agrees with was not easy – it was hard work, what leads me to the most important thing brought to my mind within the past three days. Contrary to other debates, during EYD one is not assigned to a country or specific view one should hold during discussion. Instead, everyone states his or her own opinion, formed by his or her personal background, including where he or she lives or grew up. I, personally, tend to underestimate to what extent my opinion and mindset are actually shaped by me growing up in Germany. Even in Europe, and even within our group of students of more or less the same age, people’s values and priorities differ tremendously depending on where they spent most of their lives. However, as long as ideas are brought forward in a rational manner, all those different views need to be heard: What makes finding a compromise both, difficult and essential, at the same time.
Obviously, our discussions did not end after our meetings and, obviously, we also spent plenty of time discovering Milan, drinking Aperol Spritz and visiting some of the city’s beautiful corners such as the canals or the dome. I think all participants would agree that those three days were an outstanding experience. We may did not change the world, but we were able to show our idea of a better future for Europe. We are thankful for the opportunity of being part of this year’s EYD and would love to participate in 2019 again. If you are interested as well, do not hesitate to contact us or the European Generation for more information.