Reportage: "In Union we stand? Citizens’ perceptions of the EU "

Lunch Discussion at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

March 26th, 2019
Kristina Jochmannová, Anastasia Petrova, Làncêlot Bradlée, News from Berlin

From May 23 to 26, 2019, citizens in Europe will elect a new European Parliament at a time when, 40 years after the first direct elections, the European-wide debate on the future of Europe will be held as intensively as before. Reason enough to ask: what do people in Europe really think about the European Union and where do they see the need for action?

The Pew Research Center (PRC) - a prestigious opinion and social research institute in Washington, D.C., completes a survey every two years, in which they ask European citizens about their attitude towards the European Union and pay particular attention to specific policy areas.

Dr. Richard Wike, Director of PRC Global Attitudes, presented the results of the latest 2019 study, which was published a few days before the event. Isabelle Maras, Visiting Fellow of the Das Progressive Zentrum, commented on the results of the study from the point of view of a policy maker, after which political activist Malte Steuber, Jungen Europäischen Föderalisten chairman, classified the analyses from the point of view of the young Pro-European civil society. The discussion was moderated by Karoline Münz, Deputy Secretary-General of the European Movement Germany.

Richard Wike started the presentation of the study with a graph depicted above along with many other similar graphs. His statistics show the general attitudes of 10 selected European Nations regarding relevant issues in the upcoming election.
Maras made positive remarks regarding French President Macron’s ambitions to unite Europe and simultaneously called for a the German-French alliance, newly revamped in the Treaty of Aachen, to be the foundation which leads Europe post-Brexit and post-election.

Steuber made comments about the younger generations optimism being based on the simple fact that “we were born in this European reality”. He called for more activism and said that he believes that focusing on ‘peace in Europe’ as the main aim in the upcoming elections is not sufficient – especially for young voters. Young Europeans were born in peace and do not see war on the within EU boundaries as possible and therefore tend to focus on other pressing issues, such as climate, right-wing populism and economic development, added Steuber.

Following the commentators’ interpretations of the statistics, the audience engaged in a debate over what they want from the European Union and where they believe the problems can be found.

The event was hosted by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, which is the oldest political foundation in Germany with a rich tradition in social democracy dating back to its foundation in 1925. It is a non-profit German foundation funded by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, and headquartered in Bonn and Berlin. It is named after Germany's first democratically elected President, Friedrich Ebert. FES is committed to the advancement of both socio-political and economic development in the spirit of social democracy, through civic education, research, and international cooperation.

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