Opportunities – so what we, young people, can receive from European Union?

Anita Weprzędz

You should learn and work hard, in order to gain your goals – that’s what our parents used to tell us. Now, thanks to European Union, the youth have a lot of opportunities to get specific knowledge and achieve all they ever want. Generally, Member States are responsible for educational system but European Union plays supporting role in that field. According to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, community „shall contribute to the development of quality education by encouraging cooperation between Member States, through actions such as promoting the mobility of citizens, designing joint study programmes, establishing networks, exchanging information or teaching languages of the European Union.” Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth said that:

„Investment in education and training is crucial for boosting young people’s personal development and job prospects.”

Source: ec.europa.eu/iStock. ©Christopher Futcher

Source: ec.europa.eu/iStock. ©Christopher Futcher


Key role of education

Sometimes I think that politics change our perspectives. Modern society continuously need to introduce innovations, to be updated with new knowledge. Additionally, we are constantly surrounded by media coverages (people follow the news and base their knowledge on that information) . We are engaged in bigger amount of projects and in social life – thank you Mark Zuckerberg, for facebook :-). Because of that „wind of change” we can do more, but we also come across some problems like for example – gaining university degree no longer guarantees your employment. European Union faced that problem a little bit earlier than Poland and has decided to help us improve our lives. It gives the youth an opportunity to find the key to their future, by introducing different programmes and one of them is Erasmus +.

Old truth – money helps

Erasmus + is a continuing project of the first European Union programme Erasmus and since 1987 more than 3 million students have benefited from it. New program has significantly increased EU fundings and it aims to support another 4 million students. In the time of 6 years (2014-2020) EU wants to spend 14,7 billion euros in order to increase opportunities for cooperation between institutions of education as well as between the worlds of education and work. Surprising is amount of strategic partnerships – around 25 thousands – which links together 125 thousands schools, vocational education and training institutions, higher and adult education institutions, youth organizations and enterprises. It was build on a framework set in the Europe 2020 strategy. „Highlighting the importance of addressing the contemporary socio-economic challenges in Europe by strengthening the education and youth systems and promoting life-long learning.”

Gaining skills our way to solve all up

Providing possibilities which helps EU citizens get right skills to be competitive in the labor market not only results in economic boom but it may lead to better social integration. Education is not only  about learning form textbooks, but also about lessons of life. Joining Erasmus + is one of those lessons.


Ukraine: At the beginning of a long journey

Magdalena Styrnik

Exactly February 21 this year, I received the following message on Facebook from my Ukrainian peer and law student as well, Yana: “They are killing us.” with some web link below. The link referred to the website including the petition which goal was to boycott the closing ceremony of Sochi Olympic Games. I have clicked, as a sign of my support for that idea. That was not so much, that was nothing, I would say, to help Ukrainians at that moment, however, WHAT ELSE could I do then for them all by myself?

People gathered at Kiev's Maidan (source: kresy24.pl)

People gathered at Kiev’s Maidan (source: kresy24.pl)

They are (were) at our age

I checked mentioned website recently, which is almost nine months from the day of a message, 3 327 people “clicked” the petition just like me. Was the ceremony boycotted? I do not think many people focused on that in February. Especially, young people, high school and university students in their 20s, at the very beginning of their life, knowing that their peers and neighbours were being killed in Kiev by Ukrainian officials just because they wanted to live in democratic country.

There were many coverages showing the situation at the Euromajdan, as media called the gathering of people at the Independence Square in Kiev. What I saw in these reports was a scream, bullets, a fire and smoke, but also A HOPE, a lot of hope.

Protesters at Euromaidan (source: Polska The Times)

Protesters at Euromaidan (source: Polska The Times)

This people believed that something (or even everything) may change in their country.  They were ready to sacrifice their life for freedom, democracy and better life closer to European Union. All of the above had its price. The most valuable was the life of almost 800 people as medical volunteer service claimed in April, while Ukrainian officials said, that time, it was about 100 people. Was that worth it? Was that the end?  We all know it was not. Although in February there were some changes among  Ukrainian officials, it was just the beginning of a long journey.

The Independence Square became a ruin, citizens became victims, the protest became a war, the Crimea became Russian territory.

To die a hero

My father is a salesman in car parts company. As Lublin is located in the East of Poland, what is more, not so far from the border, many Ukrainians come here to buy those car parts, as they are cheaper and of better quality than in Ukraine. One of my father’s regular clients is about 30 years old man. In June 2014 he came to the company as usual. When my father asked him about the situation in Ukraine, the man said: “ A few months ago I’ve collected my friends from military training area after a war game. There were TWELVE of them. Now, there are SIX.

Ukrainian soldiers in captive after Russian agression in Crimea (source: orientalreview.org)

Ukrainian soldiers at the time of Russian aggression in Crimea (source: orientalreview.org)

The rest six of my father’s client friends obviously died during military operations. I am just wondering whether they- being people in their 30s, at the beginning of their adults life-  really wanted to fight for their homeland or they just had no other choice. Each of these was possible, however, common knowledge is that even 50 years old men receives a call-up and actually MUST leave their families, work, homes. That’s how war works- someone may say- I cannot deny it- the death of billion of people is only the statistics, the death of one man is a tragedy. What always strikes me the most when it comes to war, is that every single soldier is someone’s father, husband, son or brother- regardless of nationality or political beliefs.

On the other side, nowadays, vast majority of modern countries, have their professional armies that consist of educated, well-paid soldiers, who are aware of risk and danger. However, in such cases, I ask myself one more question: are these men, whose profession is being a soldier, still a hero or do they just do their jobs?

It is not my aim to compare the value of life of Euromajdan’s victims with the value of life of soldiers. However, I would like to focus the attention on the absurdity of such conflicts. People die, because one man or a group of other people want to have more influence on specific territory or resources. The war ends some day and I am asking one more question: WHAT NOW?

Two real stories I’ve described above should show us how close Ukraine and its problems are to Poland, Poles and every single man, who loves its country.

Donald Tusk: Quick look on the new EU leader

Adrianna Brzozowska


Donald Tusk, elected to be a President of the EU at the end of August, today has to face his new responsibilities. Presidency of the European Council demands other kind of skills than being the Prime Minister of Poland. On the European level the most needed are language skills and the art of diplomacy, to maintain coherent cooperation among Member States.


Donald Tusk (Fot. Adam Stępień/Agencja Gazeta)

Donald Tusk (Fot. Adam Stępień/Agencja Gazeta)

The election

On the special meeting on the 30th of August, former President Herman van Rompuy in his speech announced that new representatives of the EU have been chosen. He stated:

” It is my great pleasure to introduce to you, in their new roles: the future President of the European Council, Prime Minister of Poland and my good friend, Donald Tusk”.

From that time on, newly elected President had to leave Polish government in favor of presiding the European Council. He has been the Prime Minister since 16th of November 2007. Former President stated that Donald Tusk impressed his colleagues with the confident way he has led his country even through the economic crisis, being the only Prime Minister of Poland being re-elected in 25 years, after the collapse of communism regime.

During the conference, Herman van Rompuy introduced also Federica Mogherini as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

New responsibilities

President of the European Council is nominated in a Qualified Majority Voting (according to art. 15 (5) of the TEU) for the term of 2,5 years. He can be re-elected once.

Responsibilities have been once presented on our blog, but still I will remind. The President of the European Council chairs and drives the work of European Council, ensures the continuity of the work of Council in the cooperation with the President of the Commission, presents rapports for the European Parliament from each meeting. Besides these strictly paper work, he represents the whole Union on the World’s level. He will have to face issues concerning Ukraine – Russia dispute, which is today’s threat to our security, stagnating economy of the EU and Britain’s presence in the Union.

As we can see, when some people think it is good to be a leader, actual leadership over the European Union is quite hard job. We will be looking at the results of Donald Tusk’s presidency and how is he managing today’s key issues. We hope he will maintain cooperation among Member States at its best.

5 facts about Donald Tusk you may not know:


Józef Piłsudski (source: coinz.eu)

1. Historian

Have you ever known that he actually graduated history at the University of Gdańsk? His M.A. work was about Józef Piłsudski.

2. Re-elected Prime Minister

As I mentioned before, Donald Tusk was the only Prime Minister in Poland since the end of communism, who has been re-elected! Do you think that as the President he will be re-elected too?

3. Editor over censorship

Gdańsk Solidarity logo (source: solidarnosc.gda.pl)

Gdańsk Solidarity logo (source: solidarnosc.gda.pl)

During the communism in Poland, he belonged to the Student Committee of Solidarność, then he co-established Independent Student’s Association and couple months later became a leader of „Solidarność” (eng. Solidarity movement) in a publishing house, where he wrote to a newspaper without a censorship, which led him to lose his job.

4. Grandfather in Wehrmacht

Actually for Poles that is nothing new. One of Polish politicians has stated that Tusk’s grandfather voluntarily joined the Wehrmacht, but the truth is that Józef Tusk was a railway official, who was imprisoned,  and as a former citizen of the Free City of Danzig(Gdańsk), compulsorily drafted into the Wehrmacht.

5. A Kashub

Kashubs (source: gwe24.pl)

Kashubs (source: gwe24.pl)

His family belong to the Kashubian minority, which are situated in Poland, Germany and even United States and Canada! Having their own language, they are situated in Pomerelia, north-central Poland.