EU Enlargement Tour in Denmark 2002

Enlargement Tour

Brief description

The ACC organized the Enlargement Tour in autumn 2002 in order to debate with and inform a Danish public about the ways the EU-Enlargement process is looked upon and debated in the rest of Europe. The tour lasted for 7-8 days and went to the residential schools Ask Højskole, Askov Højskole, Højskolen Østersøen and Rønshoved Højskole.

Dasa Bolcina at Ask Højskole


Ask Højskole (closed)
Askov Højskole,
Højskolen Østersøen and
Rønshoved Højskole

The Tour

Just ten days before the Copenhagen Summit of the EU in December 2002, initiators, organizers and volunteers of the Youth2002 project were once again invited in the days November 26th to December 2nd in order to present their experiences with the debates about the enlargement of the EU within their respective home-countries and “home-languages”. The arrangements were open for a public audience but focusing also on the current students at the schools.

The presenters told in particular about the enlargement debate process in Europe outside Denmark. They were:

Conchi Gallego (Madrid), language: Spanish

o About the (1) general feeling, that everything coming from the EU has been connected with progress and prosperity + the general blockage of critique (because of this), which could have been foreseen in relation to the EU-enlargement towards east. General ignorance about the enlargement is characteristically, but some certain identification with the countries in the East is also present because of the parallel to the relatively recent moving away from the Franco regime and to the EU-cooperation policy that followed. (2) Official political circles and parties are occupied with fighting for keeping a share of the EU-subsidies in competition with the East and Central European countries, while (3) medias are almost alone occupied with national gain and loss scenarios related to the enlargement.

Dasa Bolcina (Trieste), language: Italian, Slovene

o (1) About the special ”corner” around Trieste, in which few kilometers distance includes an EU-country (Italy), a candidate country (Slovene) and a third-country (Croatia), even if the populations divided by nowadays borders have had common bonds for centuries. The general lack of understanding of a remote political processes’ resulting in dividing the area like this. (2) About the general lack of knowledge concerning the EU-integration process altogether.

Eva Valvo (Pisa), language: Italian

o About the general EU-enthusiasm within Italy, but also the link to a general feeling, that it can only be better than Rome. The keywords of the presentation were information about the enlargement, opinions about the enlargement, positive and negative expectations knitted to the enlargement and the more intellectual debate about flexible and eventually intermediary EU-memberships.

Hanna Wennerström (Uppsala), language: Swedish

o (1) About the general lack of public debate in Sweden, when it is about European matters including the enlargement, (2) the dominating debate about Swedens eventual inclusion in the EUROland. (3) The debate about the agricultural subsidies for which Sweden is a net contributor. (4) Sweden’s special geographical situation with no borders to future new EU-countries, which leaves the immigrant question relatively untouched, even if there is some concern about Baltic immigrants. At the political-institutional level the minister of foreign affairs, Anna Lindh’s, recent communication pro Turkish membership. (6) Sweden’s internal geographical parameters, when it comes to perceptions of the EU (north/south/countryside(cities) and a general tendency to consider EU as out of reach for common people.

Hannes Sildnik (Johve), language: Estonian

o About (1) Estonia’s recent soviet union background as a context of thinking union thoughts among in particular the Estonian part of the population. About the non-Estonian, previous soviet citizens hopes stored in the European minority protection rules. About the fear of loosing national identity among Estonians. (2) The medias role; general EU disinterest and ignorance linked up with specific age groups and educational level. Good access to information for those who want. (3) The political and general feeling, that there is no alternative to EU-integration + the links with the policy of security.

Helena Soares Silva (Espinho), language: Portuguese

o Portugal is very parallel to the Spanish perception of the EU matters. (1) The general feeling that everything coming from the EU has been connected to progress and prosperity + the blockage of critique which one would have guessed would come up especially in relation to the enlargement process. The general lack of knowledge, disinterest and ignorance concerning EU matters may be even more characteristically in Portugal. Certain solidarity with countries in the East is present recognizing the parallels to the Salazar regime as a background.

Jan-Christoph Napierski (Krakow), language: Polish, German, Danish

o (1) About the special German debate, which has as a point of departure, that Germany has already had its first east-enlargement (Neue Bundesländer, DDR), which has so far resulted in migration from east to west. The fear of a “Polish invasion”. (2) At the same time the parallel debate in Poland, which has a “German invasion” of rich westerners as a point of departure. Moreover the borderline cities having a particular interest in a weaker borderline. (3) About the timewise poisonous debate in certain polish media and about the (4) german skepticism and the distance to the official policy of Germany, which is 100% dedicated to the gains of the enlargement-process.

Laszlo Dani (Budapest), language: Romanian, Hungarian

o Debating (1) the psychological factor of belonging now to the ”shining west” in stead of ”red east”, the (2) Hungarian minorities position after the East-enlargement in the countries surrounding Hungary and (3) the debate if the Benes decrees are really EU-compatible?

Mjellma Mehmeti (Skopje), language: southern Slavic, Albanian, Turkish

o About (1) the background of Macedonia’s access to the EU-related issues, which have to be seen in the context of armed conflicts causing delays with the eternal Albanian-Slavic conflicts dividing Macedonia in all senses (medias, parties, argumentations, history writing), (2) the formal bonds to the EU with the signing of the stability- and integration agreement (2001) and the general positive attitude towards the European integration manifested recently with the invention of a minister of European affairs, the (3) common mixture of security- and EU-policy symbolized in the very person Solana, and (3) the general skeptics and feelings of inferiority when EU politicians almost dictate certain domestic political matters in Macedonia and in the same move confidence towards the EU-institutions as compared to Skopje-politicians.

The Enlargement Tour began at Højskolen Østersøen (26.11), went to Rønshoved Højskole (27.11.) to Askov Højskole (28.11.) and ended at the Ask Højskole (2.12) while an arrangement at Rejsby Efterskole was cancelled in the last moment.

Students at the folk high schools and the local guests were invited and had the opportunity to get first hand information abut how this debate is taken in other European countries outside Denmark. Both presentations and the subsequent debates, in which the mainly Danish audience had the chance to debate face-to-face with representations of other countries, proved to be a very big success when measured on the quality of the debates.

We believe to have reached the aim of the project: contribute to establishing a common European debate about questions and political issues shared by Europeans. There is no doubt, that we have created an interest among the students and the audience in general to further investigate the “European histories” which in the end is the background to the whole European integration process and by this moved the focus a bit.