Banner_Spanish-School_BIGDebating Europe wants to give students the chance to question policymakers, debate with fellow students from other European countries, and learn more about the work of the EU.

To achieve this goal, we are working closely with schools and colleges across each EU member state to launch a series of student-led online debates.

You can read our previous debates with students from the Arsakeio Lykeio in Greece here, the Business Academy Aarhus in Denmark here, the Dr. Vasil Beron school in Bulgaria here, and Lund University in Sweden here.

Our fifth debate is with students from the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain. We took their questions to the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy (who belongs to the centre-right European People’s Party); a German MEP with the centre-right Christian Social Union in Bavaria, Manfred Weber ( EPP); a British Labour Party MEP, Arlene McCarthy ( Socialists & Democrats); a Dutch Labour Party MEP, Emine Bozkurt ( S&D) and a Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party MEP, Juan Fernando López Aguilar ( S&D).

1. How can we increase the participation of citizens in European institutions?

The first question came from Amalia, who felt that the EU should be much closer to its citizens, and asked how direct participation could be increased. We took this question to Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council (comprised of heads of European state and government, voted for in national elections), and to Manfred Weber, a Member of the European Parliament (the only directly-elected EU institution), for them both to respond.

2. How can we increase the participation of citizens in global economic decision-making?

Next, Maria sent us a broader question on democratic decision-making in the global economy. Decisions taken by private companies and investors, between states and within international institutions (such as the IMF) can affect millions of citizens in Europe, so how can we increase the participation of citizens in decision-making? We put this question to British Labour Party MEP Arlene McCarthy.

3. Are European asylum rules ready for the challenges of the globalisation?

Mariusz sent us a question asking if European asylum rules will be sufficient to meet the challenges of globalisation and increased migration (including from states where there is conflict, or where human rights are not respected). We put this question to Manfred Weber MEP, Vice-Chair of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament.

4. How can the EU more effectively support democratic transformations in third countries?

Next, we took another question from Mariusz on how the EU could better support human rights and democratic transformations across the world. We aksed Emine Bozkurt, a Dutch MEP, for her response.

5. Could citizens ever appeal directly to the European Court of Justice for protection of their rights contained in the Charter of Fundamental Rights?

Finally, we had a question from Amalia on whether we were likely to see European citizens able to appeal directly to the European Court of Justice for protection of the rights contained within the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which was proclaimed in 2000 and became legally binding in 2009, and which sets out in a single text the whole range of civil, political, economic and social rights of European citizens and all persons resident in the EU.

We took this question to Juan Fernando López Aguilar, a Spanish MEP and former Minister of Justice of Spain. How would he respond?

What do YOU think? How can we increase the participation of citizens in in EU institutions and global economic decision-making? Are European asylum and immigration rules ready for the challenges of globalisation? How can the EU more effectively support democratic transformations in third countries? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!

12 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    1) by explaining to citizens what the European Parliament does (I guearantee you less than 1 in 5 can accurately say)
    2) by making Commissioners, including its President, eligible to serve on the Commission only if they were elected to a seat in the European Parliament, so as to attract top talent for European elections
    3) by giving the Parliament the power to nominate, as well as vote out the Commission, the latter of which exists today.
    4) by giving Parliament the power to initiate legislation and break with the exclusivity given to the Commission in this matter.
    5) By making the European Parliament smaller, and skew it further in favor of smaller member states, but in turn remove the “national quotas” on the commission, and reduce the College of commissioners to 14 portfolios + the President, and make their service exclusively the choice of the President of the Commission irrespective of nationality, only merit.

  2. avatar
    Karel Van Isacker

    By eradicating corruption within the EC institutions, including also reducing the number of overpaid and underperforming public servants, while introducing a 50% taxation on all earnings by EC staff. Would make them equal with the rest of European citizens.

    • avatar
      jose antonio

      como se puede controlar la corrupción politica, si no es con funcionarios?, los funcionarios surgieron para estar al margen de los continuos cambios politicos y la corrupción que ello conlleva, puesto que politica es para muchos …acceder y mantenerse en el poder…

  3. avatar
    Marta Lobato

    with the austerity plans killing southern europe…that’s not the biggest problem the EU will have in a few years….

    • avatar

      Right, but we also must find a way to solve problems from the top too, otherwise they will keep happening.

  4. avatar
    Marcel - Eurosoviet dissident

    1. why would they want to do that. The very idea behind the EU is to end democracy (even while keeping the trappings). Brussels doesn’t like the idea of voter influence on legislation and all that. Hey, we might vote to impose income tax on them, can’t have that can we.

    2. how about national decision making? No foreign politicians shall vote on our laws?

    3. halt all immigration. Effective immediately.

    4. it can’t.

    5. we don’t need the ECJ. A corrupt biased kangaroo court always looking for ridiculous ways to interpret rules in the Eurosoviet’s favor.

  5. avatar
    Peter Schellinck

    The EU should polish up it’s image and gain credibility. Only then one can increase the participation of citizens in EU institutions and global economic decision-making. As the big picture has been contaminated by the crisis it is essential that, on a regional basis, confidence is rebuild and that trust comes bottom up. Politicians need to have the courage to face defeat at elections as people are looking for longer term stability signals and not election cycled interests. The project Europe needs a charm offensive urgently before 2014 voting. People must be clearly informed what the benefits have been and are, hence showning what positive outcome the solidarity, the Euro, etc. have contributed to every day life. The Eurpean resilience should become our trademark. Citizins must be made aware that we’ll represent less then 8% of the world population. Hence we need each other to remain a voice in the future world configuration or do we want to become the Disney world for the Chinese?

  6. avatar
    Daniel García.

    EU is ruled by democracy, an indirect one but democracy after all.
    I fully agree with Rinus van Schendelen:
    “The real democratic deficit can now be found in national parliaments …They have failed to keep pace with ongoing Europeanization.”
    I should add that some members of those parliaments can´t even get used to the fall of Berlin Wall. 24 years later!
    “Organic” or “people´s” democracies again? No thanks.

  7. avatar


    so why are EU-philes so desperate to recreate the Soviet Union in Brussels? Talk about stuck in the past!

    Oh, there’s no European demos so the EU’s democratic deficit is 100%

  8. avatar
    Daniel García

    I am a europhile, and not desperate about anything (well, about my football team, but that´s a different kettle of fish).
    The Soviet Union ruled Eastern Europe for 45 years. They had to build a wall to avoid people to escape from the communist paradise. Some people forget easily.
    Nobody suffers such a thing in the EU nowadays. In Spain those who more strongly criticize the lack of democracy in Europe have Cuba (and lately Venezuela) as a democratic model.
    I feel free in Europe and, if not, I would go elsewhere.

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