CIVICA students take on key challenges for Europe’s future
More than 30 students across CIVICA universities (and also from the University of Geneva and ESADE) are currently hard at work finishing their draft of the ‘Report on the Future of Europe.’
The final report, an initiative proposed by the Société des Membres de la Légion d'Honneur (SMLH) to celebrate the Centenary of the SMLH Foreign Sections, will be presented to high-profile figures from European institutions and academia at the SMLH Centenary Event, at the French Embassy in Rome later this year.
What are the fundamental values embodied by the European Union? Does the EU really live up to them? How can the EU tackle the major challenges posed by the global health crisis, climate change, international migrations, technological disruption? These are some of the questions the students are reflecting on to propose a vision for a way forward, with the aim of engaging young Europeans in actively shaping the policy debate. The drafting of the report is under the guidance of two academic mentors: Carlo Altomonte, Bocconi University, and Frédéric Esposito, University of Geneva.
We talked to two students involved in the project, Giulio Cervi, 23, student in the Bocconi-LSE Double Degree in European and International Public Policy & Politics and a CIVICA student ambassador, and Marianna Skoczek-Wojciechowska, 24, student in the Master’s in European Affairs at Sciences Po.
Giulio, what themes are you tackling in the Report and how did you choose them?
How many times have we heard that “Europe will be forged in crises”? It seemed appropriate to start from a discussion on the many crises the EU has gone through and use them as an instrument to bring about positive change. Thus, we organised our Report around seven key challenges for the future of Europe: reinforcing European identity, breaking the institutional deadlock and promoting democratic legitimacy, improving effectiveness of economic governance, dealing with the environmental emergency, tackling the migration crisis, governing the disruptive power of technology, and – last but not least – preparing for a next pandemic. These are by no means the only challenges ahead of us, but we believe it is a good starting point.
Marianna, why did you decide to join this project?
Participating in drafting the Report on the Future of Europe appeared to me a great opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss about the concerns and challenges that Europe is facing with European students coming from different backgrounds. I believe that it is important to make the discussion about the EU more present in our societies. It is very encouraging to me that there is a willingness among the young generation to identify the challenges and opportunities of European integration.
Giulio, how many students are working on this and how are you all working together?
More than 30 students, coming from 10 different countries, are involved in the project. We are divided in working groups, each focusing on one chapter of the Report. We were free to join the working groups of most interest to us or where we could contribute in a meaningful way. Most participants belong to at least two working groups, which is a nice way to create connections not only within the Report but also amongst ourselves. So far, we had four general meetings and countless group meetings. Moreover, the two academic mentors are helping us a lot in making sure that we deliver a high quality product.
Marianna, how is this collaborative experience?
We had to adapt to the challenges of our times – i.e. the global pandemic. Therefore, the whole collaborative experience has to be conducted via online tools. I am quite impressed that we are managing to advance in our report while meeting only on Zoom and by exchanging on WhatsApp. During our first general meeting in September we had a chance to exchange with our academic mentors, and brainstorm about the general ideas that we would like to include in our report. We then divided the work around several working groups where everyone has had a chance to contribute and discuss. This report is a genuinely collaborative exercise.
Giulio, what are the next steps of the project?
By the beginning of March we aim to complete the revision of the second draft. Then we will send it for final editing and translation into French and Italian. We are so grateful to the SMLH for this incredible opportunity to interact with European policymakers and high-level figures. Together with the academic mentors we are talking about the legacy of the Report and how to maximise its impact. With the Conference on the Future of Europe approaching, we, as young Europeans, believe that we have something to say. One thing is clear: we are just getting started.
Marianna, what ‘sentiment’ is emerging?
My feeling during the work on this report is that there are many young people who are passionate about Europe and who are deeply concerned about its future. This is a very positive sign for Europe, I feel. That being said, our report identifies several issues and challenges with European integration that are not necessarily reassuring. Therefore, I believe that Europe will need strong, passionate and visionary leaders ready to take on Europe’s future.
Written by Tomaso Eridani (Bocconi University)