08.05.2014: European Parliament: exciting, committed and versatile – visit to Brussels

Loud discussions and serious negotiations in the European Parliament – this is nothing new – but it is surprising when young people from various Kolping associations are present at this place.

In a role play in the European Parliament more than 100 dedicated youth are trying to find the balance between the different interests of the parties, the national states and the common good. In the Parliament it is already a challenge to agree on a common line regarding a proposed guideline of the European Commission. And when the Council of Ministers of the EU (ministers of all member countries) also present their own perspective and the commission shows low readiness to negotiate, it becomes clear how difficult everyday life is for a European parliamentarian. However, the young people are able to reach consensus and finally a clearly modified guideline is adopted.

With this an informative and intensive day in the European Parliament comes to an end. A total of more than 100 young people form 15 European countries travelled to Brussels. Some of the young people grew up in the European Union, like the participants from France, Belgium and Germany. Others came in 2004 or 2007 with the Eastern enlargement (e.g. Poland, Slovenia, Romania) and for others the European Union is still an objective – as for the participants from the Ukraine, Serbia and Kosovo.

Apart from a better understanding for the cooperation of the European Institutions, the experts gave an insight into the historical development and current topics. The speech of the more than 90 year old Paul Collowald who reminded of the original objective – peace – and the speech of Robert Schuman on May 9, 1950 was moving. All speakers took up the issue as to how fragile peace is when they analysed the situation in the Ukraine and thereby described the challenges for the EU. This subject was an important focus in the conversations with the candidates for the forthcoming European elections, apart from economic and social questions.

The intercultural evening organized by the participants was another highlight. French, Polish and Slovakian cheese, sausages from Hungary and the Ukraine, sweets from Serbia, Slovenia and Kosovo as well as beer from Belgium were served while the participants were telling jokes, talking about the beauty of their countries and singing and dancing.

The last day had the motto European citizenship and commitment for Europe. Father Patrick Daly, General Secretary of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community held an impressive speech about the question of identity and clearly called nationalistic tendencies into question. He also addressed Europe’s Christian roots and promoted a mindful maintenance of interpersonal contacts, especially in times where “identity” has become fast-paced and fragile due to Facebook and other modern media.

At the end some participants described their experiences and described how encouraging and exciting these days were and how the own horizon has become a bit more European.

Role play in the Parliament

Group photo

In the European Parliament

The history of Europe – a report of the contemporary witness Paul Collowald

Pat Cox’ exciting speech about the reshaping of the European Union

In conversation with the candidates for the European elections