For the European week and Mendel European Centre in Brno Mariela BAEVA participated in lectures and discussions with students at the beginning of December 2018. The main topics was BREXIT, migration issues and the EU institutions.
Mission report: MEETING WITH THE YOUNG GENERATION
For a number of years now, I have committed to the EP to Campus Programme largely due to its main objective to continue delivering expertise that builds up the students’ knowledge capital.
The process enjoys reciprocity – as guest speakers, we benefit from the analytical approach and critical thinking of the young generation. This December, I focused on EU Migration Insights 2017 and the role of the EP in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The first lecture shed light on the unprecedented global movement of people. We discussed migrant integration public policies of the MSs. We also approached migration from the perspective of identity and populism. I briefly commented on the reform of the Dublin system and the EU return policy.
As concerns over migration and identity are central to European politics, we devoted generous time to discuss two surveys covering two opposite aspects.
One of the surveys belongs to the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as
Chatham House. It is designed to probe the attitudes in the EU towards the perceived effects of migration, the refugee crisis and how it has been managed since 2015. The specific issue of Islam in European societies is also in the focus of the survey.
The second survey is produced by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), based in Vienna, and it throws light on the experiences of Muslim refugees and their children born in EU MSs.
We could make two general conclusions:
• Populist movements will continue to find resonance among the public when they seek to amplify such concerns into a broader opposition towards the EU. So, wide-ranging strategies will be necessary to engage more authoritarian-minded voters and to re-frame debates about migration in such a way as to reduce perceptions of a cultural or identity threat.
• Over the longer term, the leadership of the EU institutions, civil society and business will need to invest efforts in attempting to change
attitudes. A source of optimism, however, is stemming from the EU’s advantages compared to those of other parts of the globe – not only that some of the EU MSs economies are among the most competitive in the world, but they also enjoy some of the most equal societies. The challenge for the EU is to utilize these strengths and to build on the historic achievements of integration.
To bring the international group of around 60 students closer together, I threw light on the refugee solidarity concert series Give a Home that took place in cities all over the world last September. The English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran joined, too, a lineup of 1,000 artists performing at the places of their music fans in support for the cause of the refugees.
The second topic concerning The Role of the EP in the UK’s withdrawal from the EU provoked many questions under the mantra ‘Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. We discussed in detail the citizens’ rights, Good Friday Agreement and single financial settlement. We had a brainstorming session based on the public opinion in the post-Brexit era. Our Friday session had its peak: a small creative project. Students from Syria, Ghana, Croatia, Ukraine, Czech Republic and I came together to call for empathy in a song titled Race to Freedom, dedicated to 18 December, International Migrants Day and 20 June, World Refugee Day.