media – 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 EUroptimism in the City of the Squares /europtimism-in-the-city-of-the-squares/ Sun, 13 Apr 2014 16:55:09 +0000 /?p=4539 After an interesting discussion about the European Parliament elections in Aachen, we arrived in Mannheim – the third-largest city in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The uniqueness of this city was obvious from the start as there are no street names and instead letters of the alphabet are used to make the navigation easier. Locals call Mannheim “die Quadratestadt” (city of the squares) because its streets and avenues are laid out to make a grid. “You can never get lost in Mannheim” assured us one of the hosts. Another famous landmark is the 18th century Mannheim Palace, former residence of the prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. Today this beautiful Baroque palace is home to the Mannheim University and it was our greatest pleasure to find out that the workshop on Europtimism will take place here.


Which one word would you associate the EU with?

One of the goals of the workshop we gave about “Europtimism” was to make participants think about the current perception of the people about the EU and which factors influence our vision of Brussels and the EU institutions. The initial task was to describe with one word what comes to your mind when you hear the word – EU. It was interesting to see a great variety of answers. Among more common bureaucracy, problems, borderless, there were few unexpected replies such as joy, new and network. It was clear that most participants associate the EU with something positive rather than negative. The discussion soon turned into trying to figure out why some people are more Eurosceptical than others. It was pointed out by Philipp that media plays a crucial role in this and not even a single participant could remember a newspaper article or a TV programme that would look at the important and often much needed projects that are initiated by the EU. It is important to raise journalistic standards and present both bad and good sides of the EU instead of just inclusively focusing on the negative, argued the participants.

When asked to guess the number of people who hold federalist ideas about the future of the EU, the answers ranged from 5%-25% and everyone was really surprised to find out that, according to the studies of the Republikon Institute, approximately 31% of the Europeans share federalist views. Stephanie expressed her doubts explaining that it is very unlikely that the responders actually knew what the federalist vision of the EU is about when they were asked to fill in the survey.

It was also insightful to hear participants discuss why some regions and some countries of the EU are more Europtimistic compared to the others. Why, for example, the Czech Republic is the most Euro-pessimistic country among all of the new member states that joined the EU in 2004? Daniel was quick to explain that pessimism of the Czechs comes not from the opposition to the EU and the EU institutions per se but for from the negative attitudes towards Euro. Czech Republic was planning to adopt common currency in 2012 just after Slovakia, however due to the current situation in the South and general mistrust and suspicion of the currency union the plans to convert to the Euro have been put on hold. Team Blue will be visiting Czech Republic on the 16-19 April and we are really looking forward to ask the locals if they agree with Daniel’s point of view.

Mannheim 5Benefits of the Euroscepticism

The final half an hour of our workshop was dedicated to the group discussions during which participants could develop answers to the questions whether the EU should get more or less powers and if the Euroscepticism is doing Europe any good. After some heated debates the 4 teams presented their results to us. Surprisingly, the teams had a lot of similar points. They all agreed that there are certain areas where the EU should get more control and in others – less. EU should, for example, be able to control and check the financial expenses in order to minimize the chance of future crisis from occurring.

Euroscepticism might not be a very positive phenomenon to observe but the EU needs Eurosceptics as much as it needs Europtimists. Eurosceptics make us realize our mistakes and as a result we receive an opportunity to improve and become better. After our visit in Mannheim, we move to one of the centres of power in Europe, the German capital Berlin. In Berlin, we’ll visit some very interesting NGOs that work in the fields of democratization and political participation. Moreover, we’ll shed light on the current situation regarding youth employment; a pressing issue that concerns many young people in Europe.

Deportation of a French student in Turkey as a consequence of the #Gezi protests /deportation-elise-couvert-turkey-gezi/ Wed, 03 Jul 2013 14:53:38 +0000 Turkey is not in the news anymore. The focus of the media shifted to more pressing events in other parts of the world, like Brazil (first because of the massive protests there, later because of a football championship). Even the new massive protests in Egypt are not on the first page of the newspapers anymore; after one month of people in the street, tear gas and messages against their government, attention is focused now in where in the world is hidden Mr. Snowden.

However, in Turkey normality has not come back. There are still groups of citizens which non-violent protest on the streets, while most of the people recover from their injuries at home. Citizens try to forget the nightmares of running in front of the police or being detained, and some live with fear that their government may find that they were active on the protests in Facebook or twitter, and will go after them. Something has however changed among the Turkish youth, and as one of them voiced out, the difference is that now they “hope that things will change”.

There is one face of the conflict that has not received enough attention. Let me tell you the case of Elisa Couvert: a French student who, after being Erasmus in Istanbul last year, decided to stay and study a postgraduate course there. She also was volunteering for the Human Rights Association. When the protests started, she joined the crowd claiming for more freedom and more democracy in the country where she had decided to spend several years of her life. She ended up searching refuge from tear gas in the office of a political party, where police entered and detained several people. She was kept in detention for too long without any charge, and finally freed just to see, some days later, how her residence permit had been revoked. She was therefore deported last week back to France.

News report that during the whole process, she was denied the right to information, the right for an interpreter, she was kept way too long in detention without charges… Not to mention that the conditions of the detention center were quite poor and she was treated with little respect. This happened to a foreigner, to a citizen of the European Union, therefore we can assume that their own citizens have suffered the same fate, or even worse. Special concern has been raised among Human Rights NGOs for the treatment of the minorities which were so active in the Turkish protests.

It is sad that Turkey has decided to deport a Human Rights activist, but this can be seen as part of the whole strategy of blaming external agents for the protests. Instead of reflecting on the real causes of the discontent, the government of RT Erdogan tried to find a scapegoat abroad. The crisis management of the protests by the authorities, instead of calming down the situation, dragged more and more people to the streets with inflammatory messages and outrageous treatment in the mass media. People answered with humour and turned then to Social Media for getting the information, which caused Twitter to be accused of being “the worst menace for society”.

National TV showed penguin documentaries instead of protest news

The case of Elise Couvert has had almost no impact on European news. This lack of attention in media and the lack of reaction of the French Government (and the European institutions) to this violation of the rights of one of its citizens is very worrying. The Turkish government has failed to provide a justification to the deportation, there was no solid evidence against Elisa Couvert, but she has seen herself expelled from Turkey in another authoritarian decision of the Turkish government. AEGEE-Europe calls for a reaction on this matter, we want the European Union to stand with this girl who just wanted to pursue her studies in a more democratic Turkey.

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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Erasmus: You cannot vote! /erasmus-you-cannot-vote-elections-italy/ /erasmus-you-cannot-vote-elections-italy/#comments Tue, 22 Jan 2013 10:50:58 +0000 More than 40.000 Italian young people studying and living abroad are excluded from the national elections.

AEGEE-Europe supports the claim of Italian students and calls for a solution that solves the violation of the democratic rights of thousand of young citizens. We expect the decision of the Italian Council of Ministers to allow all Italians living abroad the possibility to participate in the general elections. We are proud to see that the reaction of Italian Erasmus has been decisive to allow other Italians to exert their democratic rights.

Unless exceptional measures are taken, Italian Erasmus students, and all the young Italians involved in the Lifelong Learning Programme abroad such as the Leonardo interns, are going to be excluded from the elections to the Parliament that will take place on February 24-25th 2013. They cannot vote for correspondence in the Consulate because, according to the current law, in order to exercise their electoral rights abroad, Italian citizens must register at the Registry of the Italians abroad (AIRE) at the Consulate in the country where they have resided or are going to reside for at least 12 months. A period that does not apply for the most popular mobility programmes.

Showing once more how wrong is the common belief that the young generation does not care about anything except themselves, the Italian Erasmus have taken initiative and started claiming for their rights showing their indignation on facebook and social media. They have coordinated themselves even when being scattered all over Europe and they have gotten quite a lot of attention on the media, voicing their discontent and calling for a reasonable decision to be taken. A petition online has been launched, and the Leonardo interns and other Italians living abroad are signing up hoping to be included together with the Erasmus students in case a solution is reached.

All the frustration of these young people has been represented graphically in a very eloquent image: a piece of toilet paper where is written: here you are, this is what my vote is worth! One of the students wrote on  facebook:  “I am really astonished because democracy and active citizenship are among the specific objectives of Lifelong Learning Programme! So there is some contradiction on this situation”. Limiting the right to vote to those who can afford the money and time of a flight back home seems quite an unfair situation that needs to be solved. Erasmus students are supported in their request by UDU, the Italian Syndicate of Students.

Even the European Commission backs the students’ claim, which makes sense since they designated 2013 as the European Year of Citizens. According to a communication from the cabinet of the Commissioner on Education, Androula Vassiliou, “the EU supports the efforts of Italy for assuring that students within mobility programmes like Erasmus are not discriminated in their right to vote”, even though legislation regarding elections is part of the national competences.

Monti’s government has decided to do all that is in their hands to solve this problem. Today (Jan 22nd) the Italian Consiglio dei Ministri will meet and the topic is high on the agenda, with the Minister of Education pushing for a solution. Time is short, as elections are very close. When at the end of last year the government promulgated a law to allow researchers, military and professors abroad to vote in this elections, nobody thought of the students participating in mobility programmes. Now a special measure will have to be taken, and time is running out as the deadline for confirming the voting abroad expired last Sunday Jan 20th. According to the Italian Constitution, the measure will have to grant the right to vote to other Italians abroad in similar situation. As a back up plan, the possible reimbursement of the travel costs for the voting is not totally discarded yet.

As stated before, AEGEE-Europe supports the claim of Italian students and calls for a solution that solves the violation of the democratic rights of thousand of young citizens. We expect the decision of the Italian Council of Ministers to allow all Italians living abroad the possibility to participate in the elections for the Italian Parliament. We are proud to see that the reaction of Italian Erasmus has been decisive to allow other Italians to exert their democratic rights.

Related links:

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Youth opinion on the future of Europe: AEGEE-Europe launches “Europe on Track” project /youth-opinion-on-the-future-of-europe-aegee-europe-launches-europe-on-track-project-2/ Fri, 05 Oct 2012 08:49:48 +0000 Where is Europe headed? What can young people expect from the Europe of tomorrow?

These questions have been of great concern for many young Europeans recently. In order to find answers, AEGEE-Europe (European Students’ Forum) is launching the “Europe on Track” project in the fall of 2012. In the framework of this initiative, six young Europeans will travel the continent by train at the end of 2012, and in the course of one month, gather the answers to these, and further questions, through photography, videos and interviews.

More information about the initiative: and

The “Europe on Track” project was launched to advocate for a better future for European youth, and to capture young people’s vision of the Europe of the future by the end of 2020, as well as provide a snapshot of AEGEE and its members. The main topic of the project is “The Europe I want for the future”, involving young people around the continent in discussing the current situation and their own prospects. At a time when the idea of European integration is being questioned, and young people’s future prospects have become hazy, AEGEE considers it fundamental to give voice to the young generation, in order to take their opinion, their realities and their wishes into account.

“We will give six young people the opportunity to travel the whole European continent. They will be reporting about their experiences through social media and blogging, channels used by youth as impartial loudspeakers, which allow them to communicate with greater audiences, and which provide them with the possibility to communicate with an independence from traditional media. This will allow them to promote and spread the idea of a common European identity among youth.” says Pavel Zborník, European Institutions and Communications Director of AEGEE-Europe about “Europe on Track”. After being present at Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, AEGEE puts emphasis on sustainability in this project as well, as the six ambassadors will travel Europe in a “green” way, by train. By documenting every detail of their journey, they will later enable others to reach conclusions and find ways to remedy the situation, and through creative and innovative approaches they will promote the vision of young people through the social and other online media.

Applications for taking part in the project as an ambassador – travelling and reporting about young people’s opinions – are open until 20th October 2012. More information can be found on AEGEE-Europe’s official website ( and the project’s Facebook page (

This initiative is possible thanks to AEGEE-Europe’s partner, Interrail.