On 26 February 2016, Emilie Mendes de Leon represented the Project for Democratic Union at the European Planning Meeting with the AEGEE Network.
AEGEE (Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe), one of Europe’s largest student associations, held their annual European Planning Conference in Leiden from 25 to 29 February 2016. Students from all over the continent descended on the Dutch university town to hear speakers and participate in panel discussions and workshops on the topic ‘Refugees in Europe’.
Emilie represented PDU in a panel discussion entitled ‘Are we building a ‘fortress Europe, also in terms of European identity and values?’ Other panelists included a Syrian professional working in Europe, a representative from the No Hate Movement in the Netherlands, and Dr. Ringo Ossewaarde of the University of Twente. The discussion covered the experience of immigrants in Europe, the role of the media in contributing to anti-Islamic rhetoric, and the lack of a European creative culture. Emilie argued that the EU’s inability to effectively deal with internal and external crises stemmed from the lack of a coherent foreign and monetary policy from democratic European institutions.
In the face of crises and threats, more federalism has long been an answer of some politicians. The Project for Democratic Union, however, posits that without democracy, the federalist project lacks legitimacy. Therefore, it is important that reform movements calling for more cohesive EU policies are based on democratic principles.