Day 1: The Value of Compromise: A Visit to the Parlamentarium
Fresh-faced and eager—not exactly the best way to describe the EU working group students at 4:00 a.m. on the way to the airport, ready for our flight to Brussels. However, as the day progressed, that would soon change. After one transfer in Munich and, for those of us less comfortable flying, a somewhat hair-raising flight through heavy turbulence to Brussels, we arrived at our hotel at midday. We had a couple of hours to settle ourselves before a short walk to the EU Parlamentarium, where we participated in a role-playing game on the legislative process of the EU Parliament. Our group was divided into four parties across the political spectrum, ranging from environmentally conscious greens to more conservative traditionals, and tasked with coming up with legislation on distribution and access to water as well as on regulating microchip implants in people.
The air was ten degrees colder but charged with anticipation for the experience ahead.
Twenty two students, having followed the EU in Focus dialogues, traveled to Brussels for a hands on experience instead.
The anthem for the European Union has no words. It’s an empty, wordless, instrumental hymn, a blank canvas upon which each nation and each ethnicity can paint their own words in their own language. The actual tune is “Ode to Joy,” by Beethoven, a symbol of pan-Europeanism, but the anthem does not have any official lyrics, which means each country can add its own. To call the European Union a multi-colored patchwork of cultures would be to understate exactly how much of it is essentially a cultural Frankenstein’s monster. The EU has 24 official languages, 5 semi-official languages, 42 minority languages and another 8 main immigrant languages. It’s not exactly a single, unified entity, and yet it exists. There is a European Union, where representatives from 28 countries will come together to hammer out deals involving one of the largest common markets in the world, with 500 million people accessible in one go. Read more
The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions has published a new report on The Gender Employment Gap: Challenges and Solutions, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2016. Authors include Massimiliano Mascherini, Martina Bisello and Irene Rioboo Leston from the Eurofound Foundation.
The report explores the main characteristics and consequences of gender gaps in labour market participation and concludes that reducing the gender employment gap should be both an economic and a social objective. The report finds that the total cost of a lower female employment rate was €370 billion in 2013, corresponding to 2.8% of EU GDP. Moreover, while work is the main source of income and so the main tool against deprivation and poverty, the participation of women to labour market ensures their well-being and empowerment. Fostering higher participation of women is crucial to meet the Europe 2020 target to achieve an overall employment rate of at least 75% by 2020. Highlighting the need of tailored policy intervention, the report also examines lessons learned drawn from policies and measures aimed at fostering female labour market participation in 6 European Member States and concludes that integrated actions with all agents involved are the most effective.
An executive summary of the report can be found here
And the full report can be found here
Massimiliano Mascherini joined us in Fall 2013 to present the results of a 2012 report on Youth Unemployment and Disengagement. You can find out more about that Dialogue Generation Jobless: Youth Unemployment and Disengagement here.
For half of the working group, the EU in Focus trip to Brussels began with a 5:00 am meeting time at the Florence airport. Once we arrived in Brussels we were given the opportunity to explore the city for the remainder of the Saturday, making the early morning flight seem inconsequential. The city was as lively as expected, especially for a weekend. After spending an entire day roaming around downtown and enjoying all the Belgian waffles and fries that Brussels could offer us, we reconvened at the hotel for dinner as a group and were able to listen to two guest speakers from the EU, one of them an NYU alumna. Our hotel was located in the government sector of the city, which meant that on the weekend there was little traffic on the roads and very few pedestrians. This completely changed on Monday when each establishment reawoke to keep the European continent fully functioning, until the next Saturday came around five days later. Read more
As part of the EU in Focus series Professor Nicoló Conti presented a dialogue about the structure of the European Union. Conti begins by clarifying that the EU is a governing body unlike anything else the world has ever seen, and trying to understand it through the lens of other governing bodies is not only unfeasible, but limits an understanding of what the EU is and how it works. Several factors make the EU unique, important among them is the fact that the EU makes decisions based on collective agreement rather than decision making by a leader. Throughout the dialogue Conti highlighted the roles of four main EU bodies; giving a crash course in how policy is made in the EU. The European Council, Council of the European Union, European Union Parliament, and European Commission are arguably the most important bodies operating in the EU. Read more
Check out LPD’s new reading list on the European Union and get up to date on some of the hot button issues in Europe before you arrive in Florence:
Learn more about LPD’s EU in Focus series and join this fall’s discussion group and trip to Brussels. For more information visit the La Pietra Dialogues website.
Since 2011, the European University Institute has organized the annual Conference on the State of the Union, which occurs during the celebration of the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, which created the European Coal and Steel Community, the first brick in the creation of the European Union, on May 9, 1950. The conference convenes important political leaders to discuss the status of the European Union and its current challenges. Discussing the State of the Union has never been easy. It was particularly challenging this year, as the conference was held the day after the UK elections that confirmed David Cameron as Prime Minister. His agenda includes a referendum to discuss the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Additionally, the UKIP, a Eurosceptic party, was the third most voted party in the United Kingdom.
Professor J. H. H. Weiler, President of the EUI, took the floor after the introductory remarks of the Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella. Weiler explicitly said that “the State of the Union is not as it should be and is not as could be.” Read more
La Pietra Dialogues always works hard to provide students with relevant and exciting educational programs. But last week, the good people of LPD outdid themselves with a sponsored field trip to Brussels and Luxembourg. A month ago, I joined the EU in Focus Working Group, one of the many programs LPD has to offer, and began to learn about the intricacies of the supranational political system uniting Europe. But last week, I was able to truly experience the work of the EU as my peers and I traveled from Florence to Brussels to Luxembourg, touring and participating in several EU institutions. Read more
As we reach the end of the La Pietra Dialogues “EU in Focus” series, NYU Florence students will take a trip to Brussels and Luxembourg to complete the goal of the series which was to understand the importance of the European Union. Throughout the series, students have met with several speakers, including NYU professors Niccolò Conti and Davide Lombardo, as well as European Union Institute professor Cristina Fasone and President Joseph Weiler, who have a strong understanding of the EU’s political structure. They discussed the different aspects of the EU government, such as the EU’s parliamentary system, the Judicial system and the history of the EU. They also analyzed its importance at the international level by discussing its relationship with the United States and other EU member states. Students attended working group meetings where they focused on two main issues in the EU: immigration and data protection policies. The issue on immigration has been a topic debated for the past couple of decades, especially in Italy because it has one of the largest immigrant populations in the EU., while the issue on data protection is a modern issue regarding the 21st century-use of the internet. Students carefully outlined key concepts and information on the EU and its current status on these two issues. The students presented their findings and engaged in different discussions on the Union and EU member states. Read more