If I had to describe my experience with the EYD with one single word, it would be “mutilated”. This has actually been my first time taking part in the event, so my judgement is clearly partial as it lacks a proper benchmark, but it was clear during those days that some key elements were missing. Nonetheless, everyone still had the possibility to expose their ideas and discuss them with other people. I found the discussion carried out in my roundtable, “European Recovery”, very constructive and I believe we have anticipated what will be discussed at the institutional level in the near future.
A CAGE FOR THE SOCIAL ANIMAL
Given the exceptional circumstances, it must be said that the organizers succeeded in doing a wonderful job. The high-profile guest speakers all gave powerful and interesting inputs to the following discussions, which in turn were conducted efficiently resulting in very sound proposals and finally, a productive plenary assembly. But not everything depends on the organizers, there are inevitably more powerful forces that shape an event’s organization and so once again the ongoing pandemic reminds us how horrible it is to be living through this major historical event. Don’t get me wrong, the online format did not represent a great impediment to the smooth exchange of ideas and opinions, but it certainly dealt a great blow to what I believe is probably the most important element of such events: human interaction. I had a very similar experience during my time in high school (the good old pandemic-free days) and the best part of it was undoubtedly meeting new people and possibly make new friends. I feel like this opportunity went missing during the EYD, it’s hard to create a connection with people you don’t even meet in person. I acknowledge some people may disagree with me about the pandemic’s impact on the whole experience, however, I’m sure we can all admit an in-person event would have triggered very different feelings, more positive ones in my view. This is obvious, we’re social animals and one way or another we crave for relations with other individuals of our own species. I looked up to this event as an opportunity to escape from the social isolation this emergency forced into, in the end the pandemic managed to impose itself on the EYD as well.
SHARING THE BURDEN
Despite the name of the roundtable “European Recovery” suggested a focus on the current situation, our thoughts immediately went to the future. The first matter was assessing whether the decision to raise common debt represented a turning point or a one-time emergency measure, we all easily settled on the former definition. Then the next step was delineating a roadmap on how and for what purposes common debt should be raised in the future. Our main concern was to properly redistribute the decision-making power among the European institutions trying to enhance the representativeness and the autonomy of the EU with respect to the Member States. The position we expressed in our proposals was that the Commission and the Parliament can better express the will of the European citizens as opposed to the all-powerful Council. In this regard, the discussion shifted from the economic point of view to a matter of legitimacy and public interest, after all raising debt is more of a political action rather than an economic one. It’s interesting to find out that there are people out there ready to hand national sovereignty out to a supranational entity which they believed to be more trustworthy than their own country to face certain challenges.
Cover Picture: " Hemicycle @ European Parliament @ European district @ Strasbourg" by "Guilhem Vellut" is licensed under CC BY 2.0