It was an extremely useful experience and it allowed me to gain a deeper insight into the real diplomatic world. Chiara Amato (from Italy)
The European Council Forum (ECF) in March 2014 brought together 30 students and young professionals to negotiate on key-questions European politics faces currently. The opening ceremony took place at the European Commission. Members of the EU Sherpa team met the participants and discussed both the frame of the work of an EU Sherpa, as well as the EU’s position in international forums such as the G20 or the G8. The debates with YELW participants were lively, and touched the very sensitive topic on EU’s relation with Russia after the Ukrainian crisis, as well as the question of transparency and democracy of meetings such as the G20. After the opening participants assembled in their panels for one and a half days of negotiations on a range of topics from the South Sudan Crisis to how to avoid the risk of an Italian exit from the Eurozone and how to tackle shale gas.
The European Council Forum starts Friday morning and lasts until Saturday evening. A detailed program is added below. The negotiations are at the heart of the ECF. In 2014 you get the chance to debate on:
- Energy: Shale gas exploration Poland and UK want to start fracking and would like to approach the European council to renegotiate fracking legislation within the EU. Economic development or environmental issues are at stake but also a chance for energy independence from the Middle East and Russia. Be part of the debate that could reshape the EU energy future.
- Human Rights: Free trade agreement negotiation with Russia Trade agreement with Russia is about to get in place but within Russia, the Duma is about to pass a law that seriously infringes human rights. In what way should the EU respond to this in terms of the free trade agreement that would be hugely beneficial for the economics of the EU?
- Economics and Finance: Italy’s risk of exiting the Euro-zone Italy is on the verge to default in one month and also waiting to take over the EU presidency, thus a default is inconceivable. The Banking union will be used for the first time and now the supervision of the Italian economy needs to be deciding upon. How will the cleanup of the Italian economy happened? Moreover, how the funds for the bailout should be divided among the other European countries needs to be discussed also. As a representative for a specific country you need to consider your countries ability to fund the bailout as well as the political support at home for this unpopular but absolute necessary task.
- International security: Crisis in the South Sudan and a EU response The conflict in South Sudan draws to a state of civil war, mostly fuelled by traditional ethnic divisions in the most recent State. South Sudanese government asked the EU and the African Union to draw up plans for an international intervention, with the scope of stopping the ongoing fighting’s as well as to pacify the belligerent factions in the near future, allowing all communities to live in peace. The High Representative for the Common Security and Defense policy considers this to be a trial of the very first common EU mission and a test for the future of the European defense strategy. How should the mission look like, should the EU take a military approach or civilian approach to the risk of ethnic cleansing within South Sudan?