Review: Europe. Fit for the future?
The future debate concerning Europe is closely linked to education and knowledge, as they are the crucial resources that can revitalise the European spirit and shape the future.
Beate Meinl-Reisinger, MES, and the former Vice-Mayor of the City of Graz, Dr. Martina Schröck, discussed this subject and the associated European challenges in an informal way at the invitation of European Dialogue. Martina Schröck also spoke, with the involvement of the audience, in the classical but inviting ambience of the Café Promenade, in Graz. The evening of November 21, 2019, was marked not least by current European events, including the crippling departure of the new European Commission under Ursula von der Leyen, their challenges and "inherited" crises.
Referring to this, Ms Meinl-Reisinger said that Europe must deliver, which it is not doing at the moment, so there is an urgent need to catch up! She argues for free, fair competition, but not for "concentrations of power that are increasingly in the field of digitisation, innovation, technology, especially the US and China. This is where education and innovation are crucial and valuable contributions to strengthening European identity and breaking down borders. As a former municipal politician, Ms Schröck emphasised the importance of the municipalities and the necessity of their greater involvement in the European project. Thus twinning and mobility must be improved, indeed expanded. A Europe of the future and one based on knowledge is closely linked to a functioning social policy. This is currently not the case, according to Ms Schröck. For the preservation of social standards, for example fair pay as well as the appreciation of such standards, the employment of all European forces will be required.
"What holds Europe together most of all will always be culture and knowledge," as President Emmanuel Macron has said. Referring to his demand for "A university for Europe", the course of the evening took an exciting, dialogue-rich course. In particular, the audience, connected across generations, managed to ignite the dialogue through interesting inputs. For Julian Lamplmayr, secretary-general of European Dialogue, educational policy or other necessary reforms in Austria had been delayed or prevented for too long.
The reference to France created a cross-border European reference. Meinl-Reisinger welcomed Macron's idea, but currently sees no chance for implementation.It will fail because of the present form of some governments and the existing majorities in the various national governments.
As we all know, the topics of innovation and education are very broad, not least because of the debate on possible innovation in the area of European defence and security policy. Austria was in a comfortable situation - saying that we were neutral and that the neighbouring NATO countries were "taking care" of it, was not enough. They would not get their hands dirty here. To the objection of Andreas J. Schröck, whether NATO, as Macron recently mentioned, would be "brain dead", Meinl replied with a counter question: "What about our transatlantic partner?" The question of reliability is no longer self-evident, as shown by the situation in Syria. Europe would reap the resulting problems here. A crucial mistake!
Andreas J. Schröck, Chairman of European Dialogue, highlighted the geopolitical aspect of Europe and the need to focus on it, also taking into account the debate on education and innovation. Europe needs courage and determination to reflect on its strengths and shared identity. Last but not least, Macron would have chosen a university for his "Initiative for Europe". After all, this is, next to the Catholic Church, the oldest European institution. The successful model "Made in Europe", a European invention, according to A.J.S., made prosperity possible and continues to connect people today through exchange programmes and debates about the future of Europe.
Erasmus was a successful project, and all the podium guests agreed on that. How could this model be extended? For Beate Meinl-Reisinger, "Erasmus for apprentices" has great potential and at the same time provides an opportunity to push ahead with innovation and education in order to make and keep Europe “fit”! The future remains exciting!
The title "Europe. Fit for the future?" is also a question for each and every one of us!