With only a few weeks left, European Planning Meeting (EPM) Zagreb is approaching. The conferences and workshops about this year’s topic: Europe under Siege – Populism and Anti-European Agitation. What we will see is the result of the work of two AEGEE members: Eirini Kyriakidi (AEGEE-Athina) and Florian Hauger (AEGEE-Heidelberg). The EPM content managers are working together with the Comité Directeur and local organisers since last November and they will give us a small preview of what participants should expect.
Eyrin and Florian: Hey, we are Eyrin from AEGEE-Athina and Florian from AEGEE-Heidelberg, as your Content Managers. We are responsible for EPM Zagreb’s thematic conference “Populism and Anti-European Agitation”. Both of us are political science students, local board members and incredibly AEGEE-addicted… oh, and we figured out that the EPM preparation turned us into an old couple. [They smile, ed.]
Why did you decide to apply as the content manager of EPM?
Florian: Developing a strategy of how to react on anti-European populism has been one of my best projects since I joined AEGEE in spring 2015. It is an important issue we need to talk about. This is why I decided to propose it as an EPM topic and apply as the content manager.
Eyrin: I wanted to be more active on the European level of AEGEE. Later, the open call for the Content Managers of EPM was announced and I knew I had to apply as soon as I saw the topic! It is an issue that is all around us, not a simple policy on a few papers.
What are your previous experience in Populism and the topic of EPM in general?
Florian: Populism and Anti-European Agitation affects both my studies and my work as a parliament employee. I did some research and read quite a lot political science literature on populism. Understanding dynamics and organisation of populist parties or movements is both incredibly interesting and frightening.
Eyrin: I am currently in my last semester of Political Science and International Relations. Therefore, Populism and Anti-European Agitation are more or less part of my everyday life, since I always end up studying about this topic or reading something relevant.
Since Populism and anti-European agitation are deeply interconnected, we couldn’t possibly think of them separating from each other when it came to speakers and workshops. However, our intention is to present many points of view for the same issues, so one could say that we are focusing on the pluralism of opinions.
Who are going to be external speakers? What will be more or less the content of workshops?
We are very happy to confirm the engagement of Claudia Chwalisz of Populus UK, LEAP-President Marie-Hélèn Caillol, Gordan Bosanac from the Centre for Peace Studies and Marko Grdosic from the Advisory Council of the Council of Europe. Most of our upcoming workshops proceed to populist mindsets and intentions while others focus further on their strategies, tools and actions.
How did you decide to develop the topic? From which perspective will you treat it?
Since the chosen topic is highly controversial, it is absolutely crucial to start with an academic introduction. Lectures and panel discussions will cast light on this subject from diverse points of view. However, since we both have a political science background, we have already taken into consideration the diversity within AEGEE. So there is no need to be afraid that it will become too much of a lecture! We can actually promise to keep it interesting and engaging for every single one of the participants.
Our task is to issue the topic of populism and Euroscepticism and discuss strategies of how to react to its latest developments. The audience will decide if this is put it into action. If you ask us, the new focus areas European Citizenship, Equal Rights, Youth Development and Civic Education could match quite well with topic-related objectives.
Who is the CD appointed member?
Maarten de Groot. He is doing a great job and we are incredibly grateful for his support. Thank you, Maarten! You rock! We would also like to thank Viola, who was appointed as a Content Manager at the beginning but had to resign for personal reasons. Thank you for your hard work!
Written by Erika Bettin, AEGEE-Verona