Student Conferences 2000 – 2006

1. Berlin 2000: The Making of Europe, 21-24 November 2000

Freie Universität in Berlin was the first university to advocate the involvement of students in the activities of the UNICA network. For the first UNICA Student Conference, 21-24 November 2000, it gathered more than 230 students representing 26 universities from 23 European capitals. The objective of it was to develop a memorandum entitled “The Making of Europe – Guidelines of European Policy in the 21st Century“, in which the participants were to present their ideas concerning European identity and its constitution in the 21st century. The conference guests were trying to provide answers to questions such as: Does a European society exist? Should Europe be defined in terms of geographical boundaries, political views, social ideas, economic interests, or common values? The conference had a format of a European student parliament: in 10 committees, the students were debating on a given topic related to European policy, and then composing the corresponding chapter of the Memorandum. At the end of the Conference, the Memorandum was adopted through a vote during a plenary session. In order to take part in a debate entitled “The Idea of Europe”, the students formed national delegations to express their opinions as representatives of their nations.

2. London 2002: The future of Europe, 10 – 13 April 2002

The conference dedicated to the future of Europe, organised by University College London (UCL), was held between 10th and 13th April 2002. It gathered 245 students representing universities from 26 capitals of Europe. The participants were debating in 10 forums, where they were discussing issues fundamental to Europe’s future development, in the realms of public consultation on the future of Europe launched in March 2001 by the Swedish presidency of the Council of the European Union. The debate on the final day of the conference was open to the public. The students got involved in the discussions even before the conference, as they had the opportunity to share first thoughts with their peers by beginning the debate by e-mail. They had also been provided with briefing materials and reading lists by the chairs of their forums – all of them students of UCL. At the final plenary session the delegates voted on the statements each group had prepared in their forum.

3. Amsterdam 2004: Unity and diversity in Europe. The question of identity, 27 – 30 0ctober 2004

The Amsterdam conference, held between 27th and 30th October 2004, was hosted by the Universiteit van Amsterdam and the Hogeschool van Amsterdam. The 250 delegates came from 26 countries. The students were sharing their visions on the future of Europe during forum debates and plenary sessions. Their conceptions of Europe’s prospects could also be noticed in posters designed and submitted by each participating country.

In order to encourage the participants to exchange their views and ideas on the topic of European identity, a panel discussion was organised, during which four experts showed a political, economic, cultural and scientific perspective of the conference’s main theme. Later on, the students took part in debates in 10 different recommendation forums, discussing issues such as: Christian identity and the accession of Turkey to the EU, immigration and racism, European political strength and the European constitution, educational and economic mobility, communication media and consumerism. On the final day of the conference, all forums presented their recommendations to the jury, which comprised as members Dr. W. F. Duisenberg, the first president of the European Central Bank and G. Nice, QC, prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Out of 10 forum groups, the jury selected one which was awarded a special prize.

In Amsterdam, the cultural programme intertwined with the official part of the conference. On the closing day, the forum presentations were preceded by a comedy act written especially for the UNICA Student Conference by a comedy group Boom Chicago.

4. Paris 2006: Université dans la cité/ University, city, citizenship, 25-28 0ctober 2006

Between 25th and 28th October 2006, the UNICA student conference was held in Paris. It was hosted by Pierre and Marie Curie University together with 3 other universities: Panthéon Sorbonne, Sorbonne Nouvelle and Paris Dauphine. It gathered 225 students representing 36 universities from 28 countries. The students debated on the conference’s main theme in 10 different forums, covering sub-topics such as the political role of the university in society, the students’ status, the relation between business and university as well as the successful student mobility. The students’ vision of the bond connecting the university and the city was also expressed in the posters submitted by a delegation of each participating country. Since the conference was bilingual, every forum had an interpreter who rendered each speech either in French or in English, depending on the language used by the speaker. The discussions in forums were enhanced by a round-table debate of experts organised on the second day of the conference.