Student Forum Maastricht
MAASTRICHT. Finding the balance between ideals and reality – this is the goal of the participants of the Student Forum Maastricht. During this annual conference, from 9 until 13 April, fifty students (ten from Maastricht, the rest from all over Europe) will discuss five Europe-related topics.
Unlike other years, this tenth conference will take place on the UM campus in Brussels instead of in Maastricht. “We want to bring it closer to the European Union”, says team coordinator Maximilian Foppe. The approach of the conference has also changed. “The focus will shift from people debating about the EU in general to working groups that will talk about a specific problem”, says Philip Schwerdfeger, who is responsible for recruitment. These problems will be introduced by policymakers from the European Commission. At the end of the conference, the students will present a proposal for a new or changed policy to solve the problem. The topics vary from ‘Is the European Neighborhood Policy effective in promoting stability and prosperity in the surrounding regions?’ to ‘How to give young people new opportunities and a future in the EU labour market?’
The participants were chosen from 150 applicants, based on their knowledge of the topics. They received a reader with information in advance and will be supervised in their working groups by two tutors: one academic and one practitioner. “We want to give serious, realistic input to the European Commission”, says Foppe. “Of course, we don’t know if they’ll do anything with it, but the fact that policymakers and lobbyists are taking the time to come shows they’re interested. We hope the students will learn about policymaking: where it differs from politics and what considerations you have to take into account.”
The conference can be followed via the Twitter hashtag #SFM2014.