Since the beginning of the project we were looking forward to visiting Enschede, home to one of the biggest locals of AEGEE, with many engaged members, a strong focus on content, and the only local with an own bar, Sociëteit Asterion. At the NWM in Leuven, European Affairs responsible Thijs confirmed their participation in Europe on Track, and 2 days later we were knocking on the door of their office in the centre of Enschede.
After a reassuring afternoon on the campus of Universiteit Twente—engineering students seem to trust in their technical expertise to find a job easily after graduation—we headed to Asterion for the weekly members’ meeting, where we presented the Europe on Track project to an interested crowd of experienced and new members. Taking some of them upstairs to the office, we launched the question Thijs had asked us in Leuven: “United States of Europe in 2020: Utopia, reality, or rubbish?”
Wessel (23, student of Philosophy): “The question is no longer whether we will have a federal European state by 2020, but how we want it to be. It will happen, and even before that time, because the financial crisis is speeding up the process.” This is generally not seen as a positive development—or at least not at this moment. There is serious lack of transparency and accountability, says Roelof (22, Biomedical Engineering). “I can see what happens in The Hague, but I cannot control what they are doing in Brussels.”
As always, each answer triggered more questions, many of which remain unanswered. Will Europe’s citizens come closer to each other when its structure becomes ever more tightly knit? How can we assure further transparency and direct accountability of the European institutions towards the citizens? Will this solve the disconnect many young people experience towards Europe? Should the EU move away from the centralisation of power in Brussels and get closer to the citizens at a national or even local level?
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