Friday, May 6, 2011

„We are Europeans“ at the Europe House Marienberg Sensitization for EU enlargement to the SEE countries

After months of preparation, on May 02nd the Europebus with six representatives from different Balkan states finally arrived at the Europe House Marienberg. We welcomed young citizens from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia. The six started just before Easter from Warsaw to discover Europe, to bring Western Balkan culture to the EU and to discuss future enlargement of the European Union to the SEE (South Eastern European) countries. “We are Europeans” is that project called. The lead partner is the Robert-Schuman-Foundation in Warsaw. They came up with the idea and organised the whole project together with the local partner throughout Europe. Also included in the whole project management is the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation. “We are Europeans” is supported by the EU via the PRINCE programme.
Two busses with six representatives set out to discover Europe – one northern and one southern tour. The tour through the north of Europe started in Poland went through Germany and then drove along the Netherlands, Belgium and France to go back through Germany ending in Warsaw again. The last station before they went back to the final conference in Poland “We are Europeans” did stop in Bad Marienberg to visit the Europe House and have a colourful programme.
The day the citizens from the Balkan stayed here was separated into three parts. During the morning we discovered the local area showing rural Germany to the participants. We did visit the Abbey Marienstatt, a local traditional pottery shop and a pharmacy garden including a barefootwalk with the local Kneipp association.
After the lunch break we had a very good discussion forum about future enlargement to the Western Balkan. Young German citizens from schools and universities showed up as well as some teachers and representatives of local political parties. The MEP Norbert Neuser attended also – he just rushed from Brussels to Bad Marienberg to take part. It was a very vivid discussion. We crossed many topics and had also an active intercultural dialogue.
The day ended with an European Country Market conducted by an international editors seminar which took part the same time in the Europe House Marienberg: music, food, dancing, presentations,…

Western Balkan citizens long for being part of the EU. But it is not so easy. You can’t say all the countries of the Western Balkan have the same attitude. As Serbia is getting more European every day you’ll find more and more critical voices in Croatia even when Croatia is the country which is most likely the candidate to become the next member of the EU in 2012 or 2013. Brain drain is also a phenomenon which concerns the citizens of the SEE countries. They need the high qualified people to rebuild their own country instead of loosing them to the current EU members. A lot of things have been discussed and as always it is not just black and white. The discussion about the future enlargement is very complicated and multidimensional. “We are Europeans” is a project that helps to have a qualitative discussion about this issue covering many different aspects without being single-sided.

Hopefully this discussion will continue when they are all back in their home countries. Give us some feed back from time to time how things are progressing in that debate in the SEE countries. The Europe House will stick to the topic of future enlargement. Already in September we will have a multinational youth gathering which will deal exactly with this topic. As we will multiply a lot of the experiences via Social Media it could be a good opportunity for you to be engaged as well. Feel free to contact us!
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