Symposium at City Hall: EU Policy between Ideals and Realities

The challenges of EU politics was the topic of a panel discussion at Bremen City Hall on Friday, January 12, 2024. The occasion was a senate reception in honor of the former mayor Klaus Wedemeier, to which Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte had extended his invitation in the Upper City Hall.

Following a keynote speech by Professor Arndt Wonka, Director of the Institute for European Studies at the University of Bremen, Bovenschulte and Wonka then discussed the topic of "EU policy between ideals and realities" with the President of the University of Bremen, Professor Jutta Günther, and student Paula Lozano Everszumrode from the Integrated European Studies bachelor's degree program. Among other things, they discussed the importance of a European Higher Education landscape and how to deal with the current challenges facing the EU.

European Union as a Peacekeeping Project

The panel participants agreed that the challenges are manifold: Right-wing populists are speaking out loudly in the Union's member states. The EU is no longer a given. EU skepticism is also increasing in the founding states. So what impetus is needed? In any case, Europe needs a guiding principle, according to Mayor Bovenschulte. In the past, it was an area of mobility, of better living conditions. "We are at the point where the European Union is a project that secures peace and democracy," emphasized Bovenschulte. For this reason, he called for a significant expansion of the European Union.
Arndt Wonka also confirmed that Europe is no longer a sure-fire success: "Eurosceptic parties are enjoying great success in the founding states too. A response must be found to this." In view of the expected strong showing of the right in this year's European elections, Wonka called for a discussion about what the EU can achieve, but also about what it cannot achieve.

A Powerful Commitment to European Values

"As a university, we are also a European university," said the university's President, Jutta Günther. It is an important EU strategy to strengthen alliances between universities. The YUFE network (Young Universities for the Future of Europe), of which the University of Bremen is a member and which has been funded by the EU Commission since 2019, aims to make the university more European. "Our aim is not only to expand the mobility of students and staff in Europe, but also to give the EU and its values a voice."

The president referred to the Cyprus Statement adopted by the members of the YUFE Strategic Council at their meeting in Nicosia. In it, they emphasize the importance of a common European identity and express their concern about anti-European developments:

Paula Lozano Everszumrode, who studies Integrated European Studies at the University of Bremen, also expressed her concern. The rise of the right and EU policy are the subject of much discussion in her circle. People feel that Europe is crumbling as the member states cannot agree, which particularly applies to asylum and climate policy. She called for young people to be more involved in EU policy decisions.  

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Teilnehmende des EU-Symposiums
A European policy symposium was held to mark Klaus Wedemeier's birthday (right). The panelists were (from the left): Prof. Arndt Wonka (University of Bremen), Paula Lozano Everszumrode (student), Bremen Mayor Andreas Bovenschulte, and University President Prof. Jutta Günther.