„The future of the EU in the face of Brexit, migration crisis and the hostile policy of Russia” presentation by Jerzy Buzek

Barbara Zak

On the 20th of March 2017, the conference entitled „Students’ Business Forum” was held at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin with one of the most remarkable figures of both Polish and European political sphere : Jerzy Buzek, former Polish Prime Minister and former President of the European Parliament, addressed the audience about issues that may endanger the future of the European Union (EU) : Brexit, the migration crisis and the aggressive foreign policy of Russia.

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The current MEP started his speech by briefly reminding us the history of the EU from the European Coal and Steel Community. He then highlighted the present crises the EU is facing and struggling to overcome. In his opinion, the EU is taking a new direction for its future, which does not suppose „european integration”. People have a bigger faith in the national identity rather than the European identity, which illustrates a new psychological situation of the voters that may have negative effects on the future of the organisation. He stressed the fact that our European civilization is gradually weakening. Concerning the three crises, he declared that for Brexit, there will be no win-win results – both parties will suffer from this divorce – and there is a need to somehow strengthen the relations between the USA and the EU, which is a signifcant partner if talking about NATO, as the UK was an important contributor to the good maintaining of these relations. As for the migrant crisis, he recalled Pope Francis’ speech about our role in welcoming migrants and refugees, underlining the Christian roots of the EU. He also reminded that Russia’s foreign policy is becoming more and more aggressive, but that is because of its ruler rather than its society. Jerzy Buzek then described some possible scenarii regarding the future of the EU : the first one would be not to change anything about it, which is dangerous. Another scenario would be a Europe of different velocity : States are not walking together towards the same goal but individually – they choose what policies they want. The last scenario is the federation of the EU but it is a project for the future decades. The former President of the European Parliament finished his speech by quoting „unity in diversity”, a watchword that is currently at risk.

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Prof. Jerzy Buzek (born in Śmiłowice (actual Czech Republic) on the 3rd of July 1940) is an eminent Polish politician and fervent pro-EU European deputy. His main position in the Polish political sphere was Prime Minister of Poland (Prezes Rady Ministrów) from 1997 to 2001, under the presidency of Aleksander Kwaśniewski. He was the leader of the political party Solidarity Electoral Action (Akcja Wyborcza Solidarność) which was dissolved in 2004. Nowadays he is a member of the Civic Platform party (Platforma Obywatelska). At the European level, he is a member of the European Parliament since 2004, affiliated to the European People’s Party. He was elected President of the European Parliament for the period 2009-2012. He is to this day the only President of the European Parliament from the Eastern Bloc of the EU. He is currently the chair of the European Parliament Industry, Research and Energy Committee since 2014, following his election. He is also a professor of technical science since 1997.

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Barbara Zak and Dorota Kowalska with Prof. Jerzy Buzek

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Sources :

http://www.buzek.pl/node/5564

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/28269/JERZY_BUZEK_home.html

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/jul/14/european-parliament-elects-president

Reklamy

European Youth Event 2016 #2

Kamil Augustyniak

 

Photo: Vako Karchava

Photo: Vako Karchava

European Youth Event was a great opportunity not only for young generation to meet and share already gained experience, but also for EU authorities to understand better what ideas, concerning European matters, are hidden in students’ and pupils’ heads. Great place, great forum, great discussion with great people – this is the essence of the mentioned event. Since all meetings were held in Strasbourg, everyone could see European Parliament from inside, try to vote, hear simultaneous translations and finally decide whether this place suits them or not. Personally I was absolutely excited about the work of interpreters. When observing how this profession is essential when talking about communication and fighting its barriers, I saw numerous advantages of being one of them in the future.

Photo: Vako Karchava

Photo: Vako Karchava

Two days of participation in discussions made me think about some matters in which my opinion was totally opposite. Before I came to Strasbourg I was convinced that Union should do all its best to guarantee payable apprenticeship at all steppingstones, no matter if someone is at the very beginning of its career or already has some professional experience. The issue concerning payments was raised by one of the participants who claimed that all internships should be paid in order to move to another country to intern and allow young generation to become independent. In response, experts said that such idealistic approach would have catastrophic consequences due to drastic decrease of trainings in Member States as well as in EU institutions. Such practice would scare off enterprises and it is not a point we all want to achieve. The solution was proposed by another clever participant who highlighted the necessity of cooperation among universities or even schools with companies, so that students could start their professional path in befriended firms. However, as long as this matter exceeds EU competences and concerns only MS’s internal management, the Union can only promote and encourage such cooperation. Though there were numerous panels to participate in, it was impossible to take part in every single one.

Photo: Vako Karchava

Photo: Vako Karchava

The last I have picked was about robotics and its purpose in real life. Various experts were talking about how the world is rapidly changing in the sphere of computers, robots and other electronic devices. Since the meeting was interactive, students were willing to ask different questions concerning near future scenarios. Final conclusion was that even if technological progress reduces employment in some occupations, surely it will create brand new professions we cannot currently even imagine.

Being the one who is interested in working in EU structures I appreciate the effort of European Youth Event 2016 organizers. Even if I know many issues concerning creating good CV and cover letter or the idea how Union works, the others’ opinions, points of view or their stories made distant career closer and more tangible.

Click HERE to read the first part of our coverage.

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European Youth Event 2016 #1

Emil Wojtaluk

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On 20-21 of May 2016 representatives of the European Studies Student’s Scientific Association of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, including representatives of EUROpens BLOG visited European Parliament in Strasbourg on the occasion of the European Youth Event 2016. The theme of the second edition was the exchange of experiences and proposals with European decision-makers using the motto „Together we can make a change”. Young people from Europe had an occasion to write their proposals for solving crucial problems of the European Union, or electronically – through an online application. Moreover, during numerous sessions and workshops in the EP building there was a chance to comment and propose our own solutions, which were then discussed by experts and politicians. An official EYE report containing all gathered opinions will be distributed to Members of the European Parliament and discussed in parliamentary committees this autumn. European Youth Event was accompanied by many cultural events (concerts, games etc.). The interest in EYE this year was huge, the number of all registered participants reached over 7,500 people.

All activities concerned five main themes:

  • War and Peace: Perspectives for a Peaceful Planet;
  • Apathy or Participation: Agenda for a Vibrant Democracy;
  • Exclusion or Access: Crackdown on Youth Unemployment;
  • Stagnation or Innovation: Tomorrow’s World of Work;
  • Collapse or Success: New Ways for Sustainable Europe.

IMG_6966Due to the huge interest each participant could participate in chosen activities – our group participated in those activities connected with youth unemployment and innovation. The first panel, in which we took part was entitled „Skills gap: Bridge over troubled water” and concerned a gap which exists between job qualifications of young people and the expectations of today’s labor market. The meeting had an interactive form, during which participants could have their voice on important issues. Asked „Do you think you learned sufficient skills at school or third level to prepare you for the labor market?” –  most answered, that they learned some skills but most of them was acquired in practice, by having internships or regular jobs. Special role of increasing awareness of young people towards internships and volunteering projects was also stressed, even if unpaid, they build our CV and increase our chances on the labor market – not all of us seem to be aware of that. Although, in some EU countries employers still do not understand the value of volunteering experience, but this conviction disappears very quickly and can be barely seen on the Union level. One is clear, we need to provide more information in this area, both for young people and the employers – to make students aware, that studies just for studies are the waste of time, and employers, that being a volunteer is equal the regular job experience. Among other speakers Mrs. Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility was present there.

In the Plenary Chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg (Photo: Vako Karchava)

In the Plenary Chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg (Photo: Vako Karchava)

Another and the most important session for us also concerned youth unemployment. It was the most important not only because of the topic but also the venue, in which all activity took place – we had an unique opportunity to sit in the plenary chamber of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, exactly on the same seats, on which Members of the European Parliament sits! The meeting was titled „Youth Unemployment: Down to zero?” – it was designed to find the solution for youth unemployment, the leading question was „how can we reduce youth unemployment to close to zero within 10 years?”. Young activists were present among experts, EU institutions were represented by Marianne Thyssen (mentioned above) and Andrey Novakov, Member of the European Parliament. We’ve started with the presentations of ideas delivered by all speakers, followed by proposals from the audience, which were later commented by the experts. However,  before the meeting started for good we were trained how the voting mechanism in the European Parliament works, having great occasion to take part in a voting simulation. The question put on voting was very clear: „whether or not European Union should give more support to young people entering the labor market?” – only a few voted “no”, pushing the red button.

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Photo: Vako Karchava

The last activity, in which we took part was named „Science or fiction: Will robots rise to power?” and was about the discussion on the future of robotics and super-computers. One of the most crucial questions raised at the very beginning was: „will robots threaten the future of humanity?”. The experts indicated, that we will always have everything under control, because it is up to people to first program those robots to work. Another interesting discussion arose on the question if robots as super-intelligent computers will take away our jobs. If we talk about workplaces implementing new technologies will certainly have an impact on disappearing of certain professions. However, as speakers indicated, technological change always entails such consequences. It doesn’t mean a catastrophe on the market. Well-known professions will be replaced by new ones, which cannot be described at the moment. The Meeting was attended by representatives of robotics companies, and among others Gianfranco Visentin, Head of Automation and Robotics Section from the European Space Agency.  

To sum up, taking part in European Youth Event 2016 was an unusual experience for us. We could observe how the European Parliament works from within, but among other things meet people from all over Europe and listen to their point of view. Surely, we learnt many new things. Coming to Strasburg made us even more aware, that working in EU institutions is not a fantasy, as some of you may imagine. It is certainly worth studying European Studies for acquiring such precious experiences!

We would like to thank Vice Rectors of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin: Professor Urszula Paprocka-Piotrowska and Professor Krzysztof Narecki, without whom it wouldn’t be possible to achieve.

This coverage is also available in Polish on the website of our Scientific Association: http://www.kul.pl/european-youth-event-2016-relacja,art_68086.html

See the full photo gallery HERE – photos by Vako Karchava.

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10 years of FRONTEX in the Schengen area

Kamil Augustyniak

Emil Wojtaluk

It’s been 10 years since the FRONTEX agency has been set up with its premises in Warsaw, Poland. At this occasion on 22 April 2015, Department of European Union Law of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin together with the Rule of Law Institute Foundation organized a training seminar as a part of the project “Support for Voluntary Returns in Lublin Region II” in the form of conference entitled “10 years of FRONTEX in the Schengen area”. It was a great occasion to summarize the activities of this EU agency to this date, and analyze the achievements in the sphere of external border management. The conference was also linked with the presentation of the book “FRONTEX agency in the Schengen area. 10 years of experience”.

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Source: fra.europa.eu

The way towards creating FRONTEX seems to be quite short but in fact there were many crucial factors from the history of European integration which led to creation of this significant EU agency. It all started in 1985 when five member states (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) decided to create among them border-free area. Since the agreement was established outside of the European Community structures, the official Schengen Area for the EU was created on 26 March, 1995. From that time the number of members grew up to 26 European countries and the principle is currently recognized as European Union law. Increasing significance of Schengen Area forced authorities to creation of body responsible for its management and security. This is why, pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004, FRONTEX was created. Its main tasks are connected with maintaining EU external borders security, including from illegal immigration, human trafficking and terrorist activity.

©Daniel Cetlicer/ the Rule of Law Institute Foundation

©Daniel Cetlicer/ the Rule of Law Institute Foundation

During conference few interesting issues were explained. First of all, the statement that the agency cannot handle the current situation in Europe where hundreds of illegal immigrants are transported to Europe is not true. The agency rely only on member states’ equipment – it has no its own vehicles to control the borders. Since not every country is willing to take care about external border of the EU (because it has no such), instruments needed to careful control these broad areas are limited. Therefore the accusation of not fulfilling obligations is simply not fair, especially after recent results of FRONTEX activities that are better than ever. Second issue taken into consideration was related to not obeying the law by the agency and not respecting human rights. It should be said that, truly, the ability to balance legal and humanitarian perspective is a challenge but always the goodness of people is a priority. In media there are numerous information about how many people died during illicit transfer to Europe and alleged failure of rescue teams but nobody mentions that FRONTEX saved more than 30 thousand lives last year. Every single illegal immigrant is treated equally with respect of all rights. The next very important issue linked with taking care of illegal immigrants mentioned at the conference was non-refoulement principle which provides a prohibition of expulsion of any person if in country of its origin will be exposed to serious infringement of fundamental human rights, e.g. tortures. This international principle is not just a theory – every EU member state is obliged to follow it in practice.

Piotr Malinowski, Service Development Team Coordinator (Frontex Situation Centre) ©Daniel Cetlicer

Piotr Malinowski, Service Development Team Coordinator (Frontex Situation Centre) ©Daniel Cetlicer

Another worth mentioning issue was that FRONTEX does not have its own “risk management system”. It uses for example what was created by the SIS (Schengen Information System). The agency coordinates activities of EU member states in securing their borders. Risk management is composed of: defined objective – optimization of functioning of the external borders of the EU, trainings of border officers, preparing reports, means of communication (community based on intelligence and the exchange of information). All of that combined is called “Smart Border Management”.

From the point of terminology, there is an existing dispute whether we have irregular or maybe illegal migrants. There is a growing tendency to use irregular migrant term more often, and this is how we should call a person who crossed the border illegally. Let’s think, how any human being can be illegal?

©Daniel Cetlicer/the Rule of Law Institute Foundation

©Daniel Cetlicer/the Rule of Law Institute Foundation

Thirty years of Schengen Agreement, twenty years of Schengen Area and ten years of existence of FRONTEX was a perfect opportunity to prepare a sum-up conference that showed how unification, following common principles and helping refugees changed Europe. Although there are issues which need increased engagement and better coordination of all EU member states, the idea of open and fair European Union succeeded.