Contributors – 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, 18 Apr 2018 09:33:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Reaction to the Boston Marathon terrorist attack /reaction-boston-marathon-bombing/ /reaction-boston-marathon-bombing/#comments Tue, 16 Apr 2013 17:52:20 +0000 The Sports Working Group of AEGEE-Europe would like to express its deepest condolence to all those affected by the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

It is hard to imagine in our times that some unscrupulous people are able to perform an action such as what happened yesterday in Boston. The Marathon of Boston is the first modern urban marathon in the world, with a very international character and a renowned event of sport, huge brotherhood between religions, ethnics and political ideologies. Certainly, the tragedy in the afternoon of April 15th only seeks to generate terror among the free thinkers of humanity. The board of the Sports Working Group is terribly affected by these news and condemns any kind of terrorist actions. We are shocked to see that the people behind this attack used such an International Sports Events to carry out their intention of spreading terror among the free and democratic societies. The marathon gathered all Boston society in a festive atmosphere, something that the terrorists sought to destroy with their will of maim and kill.

The images we’ve seen in the last day, have tried to break the spirit that for a century represent this international event. But we also witness a great hope and strength in the images of solidarity and brotherhood that arose seconds after the explosions. United we are stronger, and this should be the message.

The Boston Marathon with more than one century of history, since 1897, is the oldest marathon in the world. Inspired by the Olympic spirits of fraternity and improvement, it is held each year the third Monday of April, Patriots’ Day. The Boston Marathon is one of the six World Marathon Majors and attracts more than 500,000 spectators each year, making it the most viewed sport event in Massachusetts. Each year gathers an average of about 20,000 registers participants, even when its starts was only performed by 18 participants, having its maximum in 1996 when around 36,748 participants run this event.

Father and son participating in Boston Marathon (photo by Steward Dawson)


The Boston Marathon was also an important step in the fight of the women rights. In the celebration of the 70th Boston Marathon, 1967, Kathrine Switzer, a young bachelor student, was the first woman ending this marathon. Even when all the Marathon referees tried to stop her due to her gender. At that time these kinds of events were supposed to be just for men.

We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and we wish to those wounded a speedy recovery.

Written collectively by the Sports Working Group and the Board of AEGEE-Europe

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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 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


Hate speech out loud /hate-speech-out-loud/ Mon, 19 Nov 2012 10:51:31 +0000 Hate speech, human rights combat, young activists and initiatives, freedom of expression and anti-discrimination – these  were the most frequently used terms at the Hate Speech Fair on 29th October in Bratislava, during the pre-event to Agora Budapest titled Brighten your Horizons. The event, organised in cooperation with the Council of Europe, encouraged members of AEGEE and other young people to join the campaign Young People Combating Hate Speech Online, and inform them about the presence of hate speech crimes in Europe.

The event’s thematic concept brought fruitful results. Denisa Samková from Ternype, the association of Roma youth, as well as Juliet Christmann and Seamus Campbell, two EVS volunteers from People in Need, a human rights focused NGO, actively contributed to the programme. “It is a great inspiration for me to see your members engaged in human rights issues,” said Denisa. “Marginalised youth in Slovakia is very often a target for different extremist groups, and similar events can bring a new turn to this combat,” she added. Juliet and Seamus confirmed her words. “We are both happy that we accepted the invitation to the event. We had not only the chance to exchange our experiences in this field, but also to deepen our own knowledge on hate speech crimes.”

Hate Speech Fair opened the discussion between various multipliers of human rights in Slovakia. People in Need association expressed their concern of humanitarian and development aid, social integration and community work with marginalised youth in rural parts of Slovakia. Mr. František Pálka from AGORA – Direct democracy explained why the consolidation of democratic society is still in progress. Mr. Tomáš Foeldes from Human Rights gave many new ideas to the Human Rights Working Group for their future work, and presented a mostly educative approach to combating human rights crimes in Europe.

Networking and raising awareness about hate speech crimes in various countries was put in the centre of the Fair. The presence of our guest, Mrs. Mária Ripomská, member of the Slovak National Parliament confirmed that freedom of expression is not only a concern of young people and activist, but it is an important point on the governmental agenda as well. Moreover, as she explained, there is a space for discussion between young people and governmental bodies about the ways for creating and equal, democratic society. Her interest in our event should encourage us to organise similar actions in the future, as these are necessary to contribute creating a society with equal opportunities that we wish to live in.

The event organised by the Human Rights Working Group of AEGEE-Europe and AEGEE-Bratislava resulted not only in a successful cooperation between AEGEE bodies, but showed the importance and openness of AEGEE to external cooperation. Learning from this lesson, we can conclude that similar events are needed, and essential to prevent hate speech violations happening in any country.


Written by Lucia Sobeková, AEGEE-Bratislava, member of Human Rights Working Group

Photos courtesy of Aneta Caltová from AEGEE-Plzen and Dasha Onkhova from AEGEE-Moskva

Education: the key to a healthy European youth /education-the-key-to-a-healthy-european-youth/ /education-the-key-to-a-healthy-european-youth/#comments Tue, 23 Oct 2012 17:53:41 +0000 Mr. John Dalli, who was Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy until last week, resigned after he found out that he was being investigated by OLAF, the EU’s Anti-fraud office. Investigation started when a Maltese entrepreneur tried to use his contacts with Mr. Dalli to gain financial advantages from the company in return for seeking to influence a possible future legislative proposal on tobacco products. This is a big cause of concern for the members of the Health4Youth project of AEGEE-Europe, the European Students’ Forum.

Logo of Health4Youth AEGEE project


The project team supports the decision of Mr. Dalli to resign and allow a clear closing of the case where its involved is clarified and his name is cleaned. We hope that in the end of the allegation phase it is proven that Mr. Dalli was not involved in the process and he was not aware of these events, preventing the involvement of the EU commission in another case of corruption that may further damage the already weak image of European Institutions. This case has highlighted again how strongly active some lobbying groups are, and how they don’t mind playing hard in order to defend their interests over the public interest of health.

The tobacco industry has money to create amazing media campaigns, they have resources to influence the process and they know all the tricks in the game of EU lobbying. But there is something they cannot fight against. Education has proven to be a powerful weapon to effectively counter their media power to a great extent. The more successful education in public health is, the harder they have to attract people to their habit.

This is the aim of the new AEGEE-Europe project Health 4 Youth: to make information about health and a healthy lifestyle available to the European youth in a clear, understandable and interactive way. With the help of the non-formal education techniques, the Health4Youth project wants to create a new generation of health multipliers that will spread the word in their circle of friends, at university, or within their families, aiming that young people can form their own opinion on health. Healthy youth is our future and the future is in our hands!

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Three steps back for LGBT rights in Europe /lgbt-october2012/ Tue, 09 Oct 2012 20:44:50 +0000 The first week of October has seen a succession of worrying news for LGBT rights in Europe. AEGEE is very much concerned about the rights of LGBT people, because it is often youth who is the target of this violation of rights, it is students who are bullied at schools and universities, it is young gay people who are facing rejection when looking for a job. We want to show our concern for these violations, and we demand the European Institutions to take a more active role in spreading our values of tolerance and respect for diversity inside the EU and the neighbouring countries, using all the resources that are available.

Troublesome news are coming from Ukraine. In spite of the international pressure, some conservative members of the Ukrainan parliament have finally passed the bill #8711 for a first read. In case this bill is approved, it will lead to effective censorship, through the criminalisation of all references to homosexuality in the media (punished with fines or prison sentences of up to 5 years). This will create impunity for all discrimination of gay people, as denouncing the violations of the recently approved anti-discrimination law would be considered a crime. The bill will have to continue its legal steps in the Parliament, to be voted upon after the elections that will take place later this month. The UN has raised its voice against the law, and the EP considers this proposal to be a pre-elections populistic strategy of some conservative politicians. Sophie in ‘t Veld, Vice-President of the LGBT EP Intergroup, added: “Rather than moving closer to Europe, Ukraine is taking a giant step away from Europe and its values”. Some member states stated that this type of decisions may imply that Ukraine’s visa-free travel agreement with the EU would be put on hold indefinitely. On the positive side, we can see some positive reactions in Ukrainian politicians: the Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament, Volodymyr Lytvyn, has shown concerns about this law, although he has not stopped the procedures yet. President Viktor Yanukovych has also refused to say whether he will sign the bill into law.

(photo by zio paolino)

Balloons were banned because of "risk of extreme violence" in Belgrade

Serbia, another country who aspires to join the EU, has again failedto guarantee the rights of the LGBT community. For the second year in a row, the Gay Parade has been banned; it was to be celebrated on Saturday Oct 6th. Three MEPs had confirmed their attendance to this year’s Belgrade Pride: Marije Cornelissen, Jelko Kacin and Keith Taylor. The European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström made a very true statement on her blog regarding the Gay Parade in Belgrade: “Love, Faith and Hope is the motto, but when I think of the organizers and the LGBT people living in Belgrade, I also think of courage”. The organizers had been working for months, with little support from the institutions, and they received notification that it was banned less than a week before the event. The government alleged “safety concerns” due to high risk of violent acts. According to Jelko Kacin, European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia, this decision is merely political, as Serbian police are professional and capable enough of ensuring public law and order. This has been shown every time Serbia hosts high risk sport events like football matches. Navi Pillay,UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, urges the Serbian government to reschedule the Pride celebration and to make sure that the freedom of expression and assembly are protected.

Are LGBT asylum seekers really welcome in UK?

Inside the EU, there is sometimes the false feeling that the battle for gay rights is already won. It then requires the decision of a judge, the declaration of a politician, or the behaviour of a single person to wake us up  from this dream. This week the victim is Olalekan M. Ayelokun, a young Nigerian nurse living in the UK for ten years. He fears death upon arrival, as he is being sent back to his country. His demand for asylum based on sexual orientation has been rejected by the British Home Office, using the traditional argument that his claims to be gay are not genuine. He was supposed to be deported last week, and just some technical problems allowed him to stay some more days, gaining extra time for the civil society to stop the process. The gay community of the United Kingdom has launched a campaign to demand that the UK fulfills its compromise with Human Rights, no excuses. The UK Prime Minister Cameron stated in 2010 ‘those Africans seeking asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and at real risk of persecution in their home countries should be allowed to stay in the UK’; it is time to stand behind his words, and make sure that no gay person is sent back to countries where he or she would  be prosecuted for the mere fact of his sexual orientation. When talking about LGBT rights, we should not forget that only twelve countries worldwide recognise and perform same-sex marriage and only fourteen countries worldwide recognise LGBT-parents the right for adoption. Even if most of these countries are in Europe, we should not forget that they are still exceptions in our continent, and that in the large majority of the world, traditions, religious conceptions and state law prevents citizens from living the life they want and deserve. There is still a lot to fight for when it comes to LGBT rights, but we cannot do this alone.  Therefore we the members of AEGEE call upon you, active citizens and European institutions, to join us in this fight for justice.


Written by Eline de Graaf & Miguel Gallardo Albajar