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Europe is going through a period of major changes: economic difficulties, decreasing job security and a breakdown of financial trust between nations and institutions on the one hand and rising disaffection with politics, an increasing influence of populism, xenophobia and distrust of political and business leaders on the other. These changes put into question the future development of European nation states and of the European Union project. They require adaptations of current policies and new solutions to questions about national and international solidarity, European cooperation, social and cultural identities, economic development, migration and how to deal with the world beyond the European borders.
These issues are fundamental to the future of Europe and its citizens. It is essential to create more awareness about them and about their causes and potential solutions. IDEA has therefore found a number of student debate organisations willing to engage with these issues in debate tournaments and public debates. These partners are umbrella organisations for student debating societies like the German Verband der Debattierclubs an Hochschulen and Dutch Nederlandse Debatbond. Or they are student debating societies like Austria’s Debattierklub Wien, Portugal’s Sociedade de Debates da Universidade do Porto or the Stockholm School of Economics.
IDEA, in turn, will host a common European event in Maastricht for the winners of the debate competition at which we will focus on youth employment in Europe. Participants will be trained in further debating and lobbying skills before meeting with European policy makers. They will learn in practice what it means to try to influence policy at the European level. The participants of the common event will then present the results of this meeting and provide trainings in lobbying skills to youth in their own countries during the next academic year.