Banner_US_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 Greece, Denmark, Bulgaria, Sweden, Spain and Belgium.

Our seventh debate is a “special guest” debate, with students from outside of the EU. As US-EU relations are in the news at the moment, with the upcoming negotiation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), we thought it might be interesting to get an outside perspective on the EU. So, we took some video questions from students from the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, taught by Tony Lockett, a European Union Fellow.

1. Does the rise of extreme right-wing parties represent a failure of EU policy?

Our first question came from Shane, who wanted to ask European politicians how they thought the rise of ultra right-wing parties such as Golden Dawn would shape the future of Europe. Does the recent relative success of such parties represent a failure of, or a threat to, EU policy?

We began by taking this question to Karin Kadenbach, an Austrian social democrat MEP.

Next, we took Shane’s question to Daniel Cohn-Bendit, French MEP and co-president of The Greens–European Free Alliance in the European Parliament. How would he respond?


Well, it’s a failure of policy in general. It’s a failure both of EU policy and of national policy. We are confronted with a financial crisis, an ecological crisis and a political crisis, and in some countries people have been left completely disoriented. Often, people react to a crisis by going to the extremes and to the far-right. We saw it in Germany in the 1930s, and in France. But this phenomena of going to the far-right is not unique to Europe; you also have it today in the US with the Tea Party movement.

Finally, we put this question to Morten Løkkegaard, a liberal MEP from Denmark. Is the rise of far-right parties a failure of EU policy?


I wouldn’t say it’s a result of EU policy. A growing number of voters are skipping the traditional parties and going for the far-right or the far-left. They are abandoning the political centre as a response to the most severe economic crises we have seen in Europe since the Second World War. But this crisis was not caused by the EU, it is a global crisis.

Maybe it hit Europe a bit harder because member states had failed to reform their economies in preparation. However, regardless of how it came about, the result is that the legitimacy of the European project is in danger. We didn’t, in due time, manage to create a feeling of ownership of the EU project among citizens. In the good times, Europe was more concerned with expanding the EU and taking on new members. What politicians failed to do was to take on board citizens and ask them what they thought. When the crisis hit hard, people of course asked: ‘What is the EU and why didn’t anyone ask me?’

2. Should the EU be taught in primary school?

Next up, we had a question sent in from Hanne wanting to know if European politicians thought that school curricula in Europe could be standardised, with the EU taught as a subject at primary school in order to promote a greater sense of European unity. We took this question to Mary Honeyball, a British social democrat MEP with the Labour Party.

3. How can the EU take human rights and security considerations into account while working with neighbouring countries?

Finally, we had a question from Sophie, who asked about human rights and how they can be taken into consideration when the EU works with neighbouring countries on energy projects like the Nabucco gas pipeline. We asked Justas Vincas Paleckis, an MEP with the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania whose work focuses particularly on EU relations with Russia and Eastern Partnership countries, to respond.

What do YOU think? Is the rise of extreme right-wing parties a failure of the EU? Should the EU be taught in primary school? And how can the EU take human rights and security considerations into account when working with neighbouring 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.

6 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Ricardo Costa Silva

    The extreme right parties usually have a political vision that curries nationalism, and because the European Union is a transnational organization, it seems to me that the rise of nationalist parties in the European Parliament may be an issue for the construction of the Union and its policies.

  2. avatar
    catherine benning

    Here is another thread that causes the people of Europe to realise that no matter what they try to communicate to the people of Brussels they either refuse to take it on board or pretend they do not hear or see it. They repeatedly cry, it cannot be us and our policies, there has to be another reason for people to make these changes to reject what we have imposed on them against their will.

    So in order to get it out in the open as to ‘why’ ordinary ‘voiceless’ people are looking for other parties than those on offer, here is a part list for you to mull over.

    !) Bailing out banks and financial institutions with public money was the straw that broke the camels back. We were robbed and the governments decided to compensate the robbers, by cutting our health systems, removing our welfare programmes and benefits, withdrawal of finances from our schools and lower taxes on billionaires, corporations and companies. Privatisation of all those things we pay for as a government run nationalised concern, which then makes money for the corporations whilst they use our public funds to do it. Which was not necessary as they did not do this in Iceland and elsewhere where they now have a balance back in their books. You followed the Americans rather than stick to European policies and answers. Why? How much did they pay you to let their billionaires take over our continent?

    2) Mass and open door immigration further created poverty by taking work opportunities in the millions from the indigenous people, and then have the gall to complain, calling them right wingers, racists and xenophobes when they wanted to protect their cultures, community cohesion and way of life from those entering with the intention of changing our way of life to theirs. And they have changed it, out of all recognition in many places. Ending with our citizens being beheaded in our streets in front of us. The gall of you people to refer to this as right wing leanings, akin to the leanings toward Hitler. When your policies are more toward the style of Hitler than the people who want rid of the misery you have brought on us. Why do you want to change the culture and the race of the people of Europe? Can you answer that? What is the contempt you show us created from? It appears you would go as far as to eliminate the society we have. I would say it’s the European Commissioners running this show that are the racists wanting to exterminate the nation within.

    4) Gay marriage is not a policy the general public are in favour of, no matter how many times you tell us it is. It is not. The ordinary people find it uncomfortable and bizarre, when the right to Civil Partnership is special for homosexual groups who have no interest in abiding by the rules that marriage has always stood for, example fidelity. It is as if we have been taken over by people hell bent on reducing our sense of connection to each other as normal human beings. What kind of policy is this? And when we try to let you know our feeling on these issues, again we are abused by words to keep our mouths shut.

    5) Politically correct indoctrination is stultifying us as a people. Creating a flat line in all movement in art, science and the psychological make up of us as Europeans. You have betrayed the right to govern by turning away form democracy and taking up a dictatorship stance.

    The people have decided this has to stop. Our cities and towns are in chaos. Our fiscal union is crumbling and you have the audacity to suggest that because we are looking for a way out, we haven’t got your message and instead are looking for a new Hitler.

    Even Sweden is in riots, because of the unthinkable changes brought about by the massive influx of cultural and ethnic tensions. You now have taking up feeding the war machines of the world, along with the Americans and the Israelis which goes against European principles, and we are supposed to continue to foot the bill for this horror as well.

    Have you all lost your minds? Or, are you being held to ransom by some kind of monster who has you in its grip? Because what you are offering is madness. The world is not a global entity that does not have vast differences between its peoples and pretending otherwise is akin the being run by a group of disturbed Frankenstein’s.

    The oddysse here is that you believe the mass of people would ‘not’ be looking for a way out of the mess you created with an agenda that is as implausible as it is unacceptable to regular, tolerant and good people. And when you are not getting away it you become critical, domineering and obtuse. Even when you see us descending into what could amount to civil war you remain blind to the truth.

  3. avatar
    Desislav Dimitrov

    The greatest failure of EU policy is that the country, whose language everyone has adopted, wants to leave the union. Perhaps you should reconsider language policies. Hail to the French! The only people who respect their language.

  4. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    The extreme right rise is a result of a combination of several factors: unemployment, immigrants who do not integrate, different religions (we know Muslims are the ones more rejected to the point that there are now extreme right movements that support Israel like EDL and others). Unemployment is obviously due to the export of our industry due to the globalism in which Europe put very low customs tariffs and the BRICS put very high customs tariffs. Unemployment generates social unrest and of course immigrants are seen as job stealers and racism and xenophobia increases. All this is a result from policies taken in Brussels and Berlin to allow the export of our industry. The truth is: in the last 10 years, all EU members, have seen their percentage of industry in the GDP to diminish. In my own country from 38 to just 13%.

  5. avatar
    Bava Vava

    all right side party members are so stupid, they never lid something, because the real right representants never will come in public political stage, this people always manage from shadow, they are the shadow.

  6. avatar
    Will Hannah

    Need Help with a debate, why shouldn’t art be abandoned in schools?

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