EYD roundtable 3: "European Way of Living"
The debate in the roundtable firstly focused on establishing a common definition for what is otherwise called “European Identity”. The participants then tackled matters such as whether the EU should take active measures to prompt the European Identity to some of its Member States and how to, as well as discussing the ties between the European Identity and the foreign policy of the Union.
Common definition of European Identity
Participants agreed that: "the concept of European Identity refers to a common set of values that are generally respected and shared by people and institutions which greatly differ from each other in terms of interests and national identities. Among those values are freedom of speech, human rights, as well as the principles of the rule of law, democracy and the protection of minorities".
It has also been highlighted that, although the EU is ultimately based on these values and that general adherence to said principles is one of the core aspects of being part of the Union, in many States not all of them are equally implemented and properly addressed. Participants have also pointed out that diversity is an important component of the European Identity and that uniformly applying the core values of the Union might be a difficult task to achieve.
EU action to prompt the European Way of living
The roundtable explored two different points of view. The first of which regarding whether the EU should undertake more assertive measures in ensuring and protecting the European Way of Living. Participants have suggested that the European Parliament should be able to impose strict sanctions to those if Member States openly disregard core values. Furthermore, it was highlighted that the efficiency of the EU Commission in bringing the violations of fundamental rights of Member States in front of European Court of Justice should be improved. One further solution might be to start devolving more competences to the EU, such as justice, economic issues, and the protection of social rights, paired with the implementation of a common defence system.
The second position that has been explored centred around more moderate interventions. It was pointed out that the Union should increase public awareness on the matter of European Identity by fostering cooperation among Member States, especially with regards to their education programs, as well as by prompting the Erasmus initiative and promoting the teaching of second languages in primary and secondary schools. Moreover, it was observed that international mobility of individuals should be fostered by expanding the cultural exchange programs to include more professionally oriented aspects.
European Identity and Foreign Policy
Having noted that the core of the EU foreign affairs lays in the mutual adherence to the values and principles of the Union and that the EU should have a common position on foreign states’ violations of the values at the core of the European identity, participants claimed that when it comes to taking a strong position against violations of fundamental rights and values, decisions should be taken with a qualified majority vote in the EU council instead of unanimity and a majority vote of the EU Parliament.
All participants have engaged in constructive discussions and have reached striking policy proposals which have been approved by the General Assembly. Despite the rather unusual circumstances of the event, all of them have egregiously upheld the principles on which the European Youth Debate stands for and demonstrated the strength and value of the young people of the European Union.