Identity & Strategy in AEGEE: History unveiled

The 1st of August is a historic day for AEGEE: our new Strategic Plan 2020-2023 enters into force. You might be wondering now: what exactly is the Strategic Plan? 

To keep it short: the aim of our strategy is to streamline the actions of all our members towards goals we have given ourselves democratically during the past year, providing us with an opportunity to achieve our mission in an effective way. For further reading, we would like to refer you to the Strategic Plan 2020-2023 (download here) where you can get to know everything about this topic.

To celebrate this important milestone for AEGEE, we would like to step back and have a look at how the identity and strategy of our organisation evolved since the very beginning in 1985. Let’s dive right into our journey through time!

1985-1991: Foundation and the first structure

AEGEE was founded on 16th of April 1985 as a result of a conference called EGEE (États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe). It was organised by the five “Grand Ecoles de Paris” (~colleges of Paris) on the initiative of Franck Biancheri and aimed at overcoming the paralysis of the European integration process. At first local groups, today called antennae, were formed in different European cities aiming to promote European integration.

Then, in 1988 some of the most important entities of AEGEE’s structure were established which remain until the current day:  the General Assembly (Agora), the first Board of Directors of AEGEE-Europe (Comité Directeur), the President’s meeting (known today as European Planning Meeting), and the first European Bodies like commissions as well as a first form of the working groups. After that, the network continued to expand with more antennae being formed across Europe.

1992-1999: Year Plan, Long-Term-Programme and the KeyToEurope

1992 marked an important year for strategy in AEGEE. For the first time, the identity and overall goal, as well as the values of the organisation, were written down as the Statement of Principles. In the same year, the first edition of KeyToEurope – AEGEE’s yearly magazine which summarizes the most important work, changes and plans of the organisation – was published. 

1992 was also the year in which the Comitè Directeur created the very first Strategic Plan of AEGEE: The Year Plan 1993 “Towards a better European society” (see Picture 1 below). It listed five fields of action for AEGEE and list of events that were going to be organised to tackle these fields within the following year. It was created to better coordinate the work of all AEGEE members across the continent, a task especially difficult without modern means of communication like the Internet. Not to forget, the aim also was to better represent the organisation towards European institutions.

Cover of the first Year Plan 1993

Since 1994 the planning with a longer perspective was introduced in the form of the Long-Term Programme. Every year at the Spring Agora the Comitè Directeur was presenting one or several topics with a time frame of three years to the network which was to be ratified. From this time on, the Year Plan served as a more short-term, concrete plan to reach the goals of the Long-Term-Programme.

In the following years, until 2000, the Long Term Programme and the Year Plan continued to play the most important role in strategic planning in AEGEE.

2000-2004: Main Fields of Action & 3-year Strategy Plan

In 2000,  the Comitè Directeur issued a proposal to change the “Long Term Programme” into “Main Fields of Action”, which would determine, at most, five areas AEGEE should focus on. Alongside with it the “Strategy Plan” would define AEGEE’s actions for the next three years. Thus, at the Autumn Agora Udine in 2000, AEGEE-Europe introduced four Main Fields of Action: Education, Peace and Stability, Cultural Exchanges and Active Citizenship. 

At the same time, the President’s Meeting was changed into the Planning Meeting, where several hundreds of members would discuss the future direction of AEGEE. The name was again changed into European Boards Meeting in 2004, as it was intended to specifically involve the boards of antennas in the process.

2005-2012: Planning Working Format & ACT

The Planning Working Format was the section of the Corpus Iuridicum AEGEEnse (CIA) that described in detail the structure of AEGEE’s Strategy. It was first created at the Autumn Agora Izmir in 2005 to replace the former “Main Fields of Action, Year Plan, Strategy Plan”.

At the Spring Agora Valletta in 2007, the Planning Working Format was reformed with the introduction of Focus Areas in the scope of a 3-year Strategic Plan. The new set of six Focus Areas was clearly divided into two groups – the first three were thematic, the last three organisational. Together with them, Action Agenda was added and the Year Plan had finally been deleted (Picture 2).

Structure of the proposed reformed Planning Working Format of 2007

In 2008 a five-months-long drafting process for the new Strategic Plan took place, which included two Progress Sessions and a Strategic Planning Meeting in Brussels. As a result, the Strategic Plan 2009-2011 was approved at the Autumn Agora Aachen in 2008. It was the first one to be drafted according to the new Planning Working Format from 2007.

In order to facilitate the implementation of the Action Agenda by the network, the Action Agenda Coordination Committee (ACT) was created at the Spring Agora Enschede 2012. Its task was to spread knowledge about AEGEE’s Thematic Focus Areas within the Network and to work closely with the Network Commission in organising work on the topics at the local level.

2013: The Identity Reform

The Comité Directeur, which entered office in August 2012, decided to focus their efforts on reforming AEGEE’s identity. After a year of consultations, an Identity meeting took place in Brussels in July 2013, where the current version of Vision, Mission and Means of AEGEE was drafted. The results were ratified by the network at the Autumn Agora 2013 in Zaragoza.

In the same year the “Main Fields of Action” was finally abolished to emphasise the importance of the Strategic Plan.

2014-2018: Fulfilment Problems,  Working Groups Reform & European Planning Meeting

Between the proposal in Autumn Agora Zaragoza in 2013 and the Spring Agora Asturias in 2015, there were no dedicated teams working on the Focus Areas of AEGEE. This meant that it was a difficult task to focus and reach any measurable progress on the defined goals. 

At the Spring Agora Asturias 2015, a proposal to have one Working Group per Focus Area was accepted. The intent was to ensure a greater precision of AEGEE’s strategy and making the work on it more efficient. Former Working Groups, not connected to the Strategic Plan, were renamed to Interest groups, but continued to serve the same purpose as before. 

Also in 2015, the European Boards Meeting made its third and so far the last change of name, and was now named European Planning Meeting. This was done to explicitly include all members of AEGEE in the discussion about the future of the organisation.

2019-2020: Strategic Framework & Strategy Committee (StC)

In 2019, there were still many issues related to the coordination, distribution of responsibilities and promotion of the strategy towards the network, resulting in problems with reaching the desired goals. On advice of the Planning Team 2019, which was responsible for the preparation and facilitation of the drafting of the new Strategic Plan 2020-2023, the Comité Directeur proposed two new reforms.

The first one was to restructure the documents related to the Strategic Plan and incorporate them into the Strategic Framework. The second one was to create the Strategy Committee (StC). Previously, Agenda Coordination Committee (ACT) had focused on the implementation of the Action Agenda on the local level. StC, as opposed to ACT, has the goal of overviewing the whole Strategic Process, encouraging and facilitating communication between different Bodies and individuals who are working on the implementation of the Strategic Plan. Additionally, it creates, maintains and evaluates the effectiveness of the structure of all documents related to the Strategic Framework. 

Those two reforms were done based on research, consultations of the network and feedback gathered on the Strategic Planning Meeting Köln 2019 and ratified by the Autumn Agora Salerno 2019.

Strategic Planning Meeting 2019

At this point, we have reached the present. During the last 35 years, AEGEE has changed and evolved, remaining updated to the needs and dreams of young Europeans. Today it is a place to share ideas, develop oneself and to bring change for Europe. This generation, like the ones before us, has now the opportunity to continue shaping AEGEE, to contribute to its mission and to remain at the forefront of European integration. 

In case you would like to get to know more about strategy in AEGEE and/or help with its implementation feel free to contact strategy@aegee.eu

Sources:

This article has presented a brief summary of all the events which have happened during the 35 years of AEGEE’s existence. You can find all the sources for this article here in case you want to further research certain parts.

The content of this article has been carefully researched by the Strategy Committee using official sources like various editions of KeyToEurope, the CIA as well as Agora minutes & proposals. Due to the long historic time-span and sometimes scarce data, it is still possible that the text contains mistakes, especially of how certain things were carried out in practice in AEGEE. In case you have any corrections or additions please contact us at strategy@aegee.eu. 

  • Foundation phase:
    • KeyToEurope 1991/1992 Page 8,
    •  KeyToEurope 20 Page 10
  • First structure
    • KeyToEurope 1994/1995 Page 8
  • Statement of Principles
    • KeyToEurope 1993/1994 Page 8
  • Year plan 1993
    • KeyToEurope 1991/1992 Page 31
  • Long-Term-Programme
    • CIA 6.0, 1994, page 39
  • Main Fields of Action & 3-year Strategy Plan
    • Key2Europe 2000-2001, page 59
    • Key2Europe 2000-2001, page 62
    • Key2Europe 2000-2001, page 5
  • Planning Working Format
    • CIA 16.1, 2005, page 4
    • Spring Agora Valletta 2007 Proposals booklet, pages 5-10
    • Minutes of the Spring Agora Valletta 2007, page 32
    • Key2Europe 2008-2009, p. 11
    • AEGEE Strategic Plan 2009‐2011
    • AEGEE Strategic Plan 2009‐2011
  • ACT
    • CIA 23.1, page 83
  • Identity Reform
    • KeyToEurope, 2012-2013, page 26
    • CIA 24.1, Article 2 and 3, page 5 
    • Minutes of Autumn Agora Zaragoza, page 36
  • Working Groups Reform
    • Proposals booklet, Agora Asturias, page 19-32 
    • KeyToEurope 2014-2015, page 17
  • Strategic Framework & Strategy Committee
    • Strategic Plan 2020-2023
    • Proposals Booklet of Autumn Agora Salerno 2019

We thank the whole Strategy Committee for their support in creating this article.