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What Europe means to me, 9 March 2017

13 March 2017
A group pf students, some standing and some kneeling, holding balloons.

A noticeboard displaying information about the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome.We hosted our latest event in the series What Europe Means to Me on Thursday 9 March 2017. On this occasion we thought it would be interesting to hold the event in the context of the 60th anniversary later in the month of the signing of the two Treaties of Rome on 25 March 1957, setting up the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Community. There were many achievements to celebrate, not least a sustained period of peace in Europe, but there were also disappointments and challenges to acknowledge, particularly at the present time.

Across the Member States there are many events planned to mark this occasion but we noted that ours was the only European Commission supported event taking place in the UK. The EU itself will mark the anniversary of the signing of the Treaties at an EU60 ceremony in Rome on 25 March 2017.

As usual we asked our current cohort of Cardiff EDC interns to take the lead and talk from ‘the head and the heart’ about their experiences and views as young people from a range of European countries (plus China). Our contributors were Richard Payne (United Kingdom), Casandra Boruzescu (Romania), Bastien Beauducel (France), Jiacheng Yang (China), Jana Kiskalt (Germany), Louisa Idel (Germany), Solene Louvet (France), Morgane Hervy (France), Manon Quero (France), Shelley Bontje (The Netherlands), Clément Charon (France) and Yana-Maria Milcheva (Bulgaria).

Each made a highly professional presentation full of insight and balance, with a nice mixture of idealism and pragmatism. The wide range of themes included maintaining peace and security, solidarity, environmental leadership, the EU as a powerful trade bloc in the world, the value of the harmonisation of laws, the need for a social Europe, the freedom to move around, a Europe of values etc. We truly celebrated what the EU has brought to countries in Europe, while recognising the substantial challenges it now faces.

Frederico Rocha and Rachel Minto sitting at a desk.We were fortunate to have as our expert discussant Rachel Minto of the Wales Governance Centre. Rachel discussed the status of the Treaties in their historical context and looked at the current debate between the EU Institutions, national governments and interested stakeholders as to the best way to relaunch the EU of twenty seven in the coming years. In particular, Rachel highlighted the recent European Commission White Paper on the Future of Europe.

Our audience of forty five students and local citizens joined in the subsequent lively discussion, before enjoying a buffet. The event was skilfully chaired by Frederico Rocha, Deputy Director of the Cardiff EDC.

More photographs of the event can be seen on our Facebook page.