Debate with Sven Giegold (MEP)
Europa-Universität Flensburg had the pleasure of welcoming Sven Giegold, member of the German political party Alliance90 / The Greens and Member of the European Parliament. He gladly accepted to meet up with a small group of students of the B.A. European Cultures and Society to discuss the topic "Quo vadis Europe?" - the future of Europe. Interested members of the faculty and staff were also glad to be able to join the debate.
Sven Giegold did not inhibit himself when talking about several topics of interest to the European public connected to the past, present and future of the European Union. He started by congratulating the University of Flensburg for the transformation into Europa-Universität, title which only a few universities possess but which represents a project in which the EU can be felt, especially considering its key insertion in the border region of Germany and Denmark.
He went on to discuss the very hot topic of populist parties and how they have been winning votes from citizens disappointed with EU policies and with the globalization process. Globalization seems to have resulted in a very sharp and serious gap between winners and losers. He mentioned not only an economic gap but also a gap of recognition in which regions of the EU that were not attractive to global capital lost all importance.
In response to the devastating effects of globalization, the populists are offering solutions that go through the reinvention of the nation-state and in its extreme form the extinction of the EU project. The position of Sven Giegold was very clear – nation-states alone can no longer control the future and fight against the consequences of globalization. Quite the contrary, the moment demands for cooperation.
Rather than focusing on technocratic solutions to some of the issues that the E.U. is facing, he suggests talking to the European citizens about identity and developing feelings towards the idea of a strong EU. He talked about the 1 million babies that came out of relationships developed through Erasmus experiences or about the fact that the EU is seen as a signal of hope in the east.
The solution he proposes is a "new Green-deal" for Europe. One that revolves around common European projects, energy supply issues, the increase of generalized Erasmus-type of experiences, the development of the rail connections between countries, etc. Why aim so low and plan for such a distant future when there are urgent matters that need more immediate solutions? – he was asked by the audience. The answer lies on the fact that these solutions are actually susceptible of finding consensus and actually be implemented.
After a short talk, Rasmus Andresen opened and mediated the debate. There were questions about several complicated and controversial topics: from the financial crisis, through tax and banking policies and the way the EU has been managing the refugee crisis, among others. Facing a varied array of questions, the member of the European Parliament did not hide his positions or refused to cause an impact with his views. He was always quite open and honest in his responses, also admitting the limitations of current solutions to the challenges that the EU is facing.
The debate itself was lively, critical and diverse. Students of the B.A. European Cultures and Society eager to participate in the debate at the highest level; the willingness to conduct the debate in several languages to accommodate the audience’s comfort zone; and the visible wide range of nationalities sitting in the audience… This was truly a European event in a European university.