From May 6 to May 9, the Franck Biancheri Award Conference ‘Borderless Europe - Blessing or Burden?’ took place in Cluj-Napoca (Romania).
The event was a collaboration between AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca, l’Association des Amis des Franck Biancheri (AAFB) and AEGEE-Europe’s Your Vision for Europe project.
Operating without a national level, AEGEE gathers 13,000 students spread out over 200 different local associations that are based in 40 different countries. As a non-governmental, politically independent organization, AEGEE strives for a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe.
For this conference, we welcomed more than 50 young people, from all over Europe as well as from local communities, to Cluj-Napoca in order to explore the topic of a ‘borderless Europe’ from a wide variety of angles: what are the intellectual origins of this political ideal, and how did it materialize historically? How do we evaluate current socio-political developments against the backdrop of the promise of an ‘ever closer Union of peoples’? What borders are still present nowadays and how do we imagine a ‘borderless Europe’ in concrete social and institutional terms? What initiatives are ‘out there’ that aim to realise this political ideal or embody it practically, and what can young people do concretely to step in?
During the conference, we screened The Great European Disaster Movie, which was perceived as a great addition as it fitted nicely in our program. After having critically analyzed the state of the European project during the panel discussion ‘Europe in crisis, Schengen in suspension’, the movie was introduced by reference to the following question: how critical is the current political constellation really? We may have gotten used to the seemingly perpetual crisis situation that the European Union finds itself in, but how worried should we be? After having watched the movie, we asked our participants whether they recognized the alarming image that the movie makers presented - the image of Europe sleepwalking into the abyss? Without exception, participants shared the worries of the movie makers, and recognised the need to wake up Europe. What is more, by reference to the statement made by the Vice-President of the German Red Cross, in the movie and the audience unanimously agreed upon the following:
"We, as young Europeans, are not responsible for the present worrisome state of the European project, but we are responsible for its future, and that is why we cannot sit idle."
It is by reference to this consensus that we continued our work the day afterwards by developing concrete ideas and activities that aim to contribute to the true realization of a borderless Europe. Whether the participants are sufficiently motivated to make these ideas come true is still to be seen, but we can at least promise that we will remind them of it.
From time to time we'll share exclusive interview clips (including never-seen-before footage), the most incisive blog posts and the most interesting dispatches from our event organisers as they take the europe debate to the furthest, biggest, smallest, weirdest, most unusual places around europe and beyond.