CAUX, addressing Europe's unfinished business


The annual AEUB conferences offer an opportunity for concerned Europeans to meet and hear directly from people from other parts. At best it may give rise to initiatives to open new channels of communication, defuse tension, and begin to repair the broken relationships. In spite of the general atmosphere of apathy and cynicism about Europe which fuels potential conflicts by disengaging citizens from positive initiatives, AEUB believes that Europe can change for the better, and achieve the goals set by those who rebuilt Europe after WWII, if our personal mindsets and the relations between the people of Europe change once again.



Europeans face some of the biggest challenges since the end of the Cold War. Economic uncertainties threaten the Eurozone, the clash of arms in Ukraine is opening the possibility of sustained insecurity, neighbouring countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are in turmoil, with large numbers of refugees seeking sanctuary in Europe, and there is widespread dissatisfaction with national and European political elites around issues of immigration and radicalisation. The increasing uncertainties are causing recriminations and breakdown in communication within and between nations.


Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business  
Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business started on 16 July 2015. The day included discussions of what is meant when we say “Europe” and reflection on the many small but important steps that were made towards European unification in the course of the 20th Century. Throughout the day, there was opportunity to explore the lives of two founding fathers of Europe - Monnet and Schuman - in the morning at the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe in Lausanne and again in the evening with talks from Gilles Grin, the director of the foundation, and Jeff Fountain from the Schuman Centre for European Studies. Monnet took small but concrete steps that contributed to European unification.

In the opening plenary, Stephanie Hofmann highlighted that European progress has been a gradual process. Ahmet Shala, Kosovo’s ambassador to Japan, and Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of Palermo, discussed the importance of not allowing borders to hold Europe back. Mr Orlando also underlined the urgent need to protect the human rights of migrants to Europe. Cathy Nobles advocated forgiveness as a key tool in effecting change in Europe.

Participants deepened their understanding of common values and work towards concrete steps to implement them. The morning session gave one member of each working group the opportunity to share with the wider audience the progress that was made the day before in smaller groups. The Young Ambassador from France reported that discrimination against minorities often stems from ignorance and proposals to address the issue thus necessarily need to include ways of empowering cultural minorities. The Young Ambassador from Bosnia and Herzegovina added that the manipulation of the masses and the lack of empathy create a hostile environment that often leads to conflict. Hence, the importance to promote dialogue and abolish the rhetoric of hatred as proposed by the speaker of another working group.

The public lecture by Margaret Smith was an additional highlight of the AEUB seminar. The very personal and moving speech stroke a subtle balance between more theoretical questions of building a common European narrative and practical ways of transforming tensions through social change. The open space event in the evening allowed everyone to share personal interests as varied as the exhibition ‘Within Our walls and Beyond’ by Undine Groeger, tango dancing and spiral dynamics (a method of understanding value systems and creating formulas for change).

talks and discussions during workshop Multiple Identities vs Separatist Solutions

the Young Ambassadors
More substantive, discussions were held about demographic composition and development within societies, identities and manifestations, acknowledgement of the past, and recurring wars within Europe. During these discussions, hopes, concerns and proposals came on the scene and was expressed that lessons learned from the past should be applied. Conflicts are often related to territory, ethnics, self governing and do arise hate and fear (one of FDR's 4 essential human freedoms, freedom of fear, a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world). But how to bridge mutual fights of variety identities?

First, we must be aware of what Europe actually is. Are we eurozone, EU or Europe? There is no true vision for Europe. The European idea is not clear and there is hardly any public support, probably motivated by the idea of losing identity. But there is no need to leave a local identity if adhering a pan-European one.
In the current era, there is an important role for education. Not only peace-keeping, peace-building and war prevention, development of a mature foreign policy to be able to anticipate crisis and to handle East_West and North_South relations, but also development of European companionship and common understanding of issues and values and true narratives are of the utmost importance.

ADDRESSING EUROPE'S UNFINISHED BUSINESS - PHOTOS: youth ambassadors | complete overview

Impressions cultural
and social aspects:
talks and debates by
youth from European
and MENA countries