The 80th International Session in Leipzig is one of the three annual International Sessions of the European Youth Parliament. From the 6th to the 15th of November 2015 in Germany, more than 300 young people from 39 European countries will gather in Leipzig.

For ten days Leipzig will host exciting debates about current European political issues, which are dedicated to the overarching theme of “Fundamental Rights in Europe”. The young participants will be offered a framework to share and develop their ideas and visions for a sustainable Europe and will experience Europe’s cultural diversity. The participants draft resolutions on current European issues, which are then debated according to the rules of the European Parliament. In particular the young people are encouraged to express their own views as well as exchange and weigh up ethical and cultural ideas with others whilst working towards a consensus on the respective committee topic.

The 80th International Session will be the 9th International Session of the European Youth Parliament hosted in Germany.

Theme

In 2015, the Federal Republic of Germany celebrates the 25th anniversary of German reunification. The fall of the Iron Curtain paved the way to a united Europe. It led to the largest wave of enlargement in EU history of mainly Central and Eastern European countries on the 1st of May 2004, putting a definitive end to the artificial division of the Cold War. The values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law have been firmly anchored in Europe through deeper political and economic cooperation. Today, they connect the people all over the continent. Nowadays, a peaceful Union that stands for far more than the initial economic alliance has evolved. The Treaty of Lisbon and with it, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, was adopted in 2007. It was initiated under the German Presidency in 1999, has the rank of primary legislation, and identifies the rights of every citizen of the Union. This important step shows that Europe’s action relies on a codified system of values for which it stands worldwide.

The growing importance of fundamental rights in Europe is already visible in many areas: The impact of the economic and financial crisis led many to question the EU’s ability to enforce these fundamental rights. This is clearly visible in the lack of jobs, training opportunities and healthcare in countries hit particularly hard by the crisis. At the same time, rapid technological and social change leads to controversial issues such as the balance between environmental protection and economic efficiency, the scope and applicability of the concept of family or the respect for self-determination and freedom of information on the internet. The EU is also at a crossroad in its role definition as a global player: With the hesitant and sometimes varying action by EU Member States in the Iraq war or in the conflict in Libya, calls for a deeper European Common Foreign and Security Policy have increased significantly. Moreover, the negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement with the United States unsettle consumer protectors and European citizens across the borders.

Thus, a critical debate on fundamental rights in Europe and their interpretation in the 21st century is necessary on many levels for the preservation and refinement of the individual rights and freedoms in Europe and beyond its borders over the next 25 years. For the historic anniversary in November 2015, young delegates from all over Europe will come together in the deeply symbolic city of Leipzig to critically evaluate the worldwide-recognised mission of the EU as guardian of the rule of law and individual freedoms. They will discuss the interpretation of fundamental rights, their representation on a global level and the further development of the fundamental rights in Europe.

Logo and motto of the session

The official session logo depicts one of the most important events of modern German history. On the night of November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, allowing people from East and West Germany to reunite with their friends and family. After months of peaceful demonstrations in East Germany, especially in the bigger cities such as Leipzig, the population had finally reached a milestone on the way to German reunification.

Even today people are separated, not always by concrete walls, but by prejudice and hatred. Our goal should be to keep overcoming these boundaries in order to keep growing closer. The session motto “From tearing down walls to setting new stones” points into the future and connects to the overall theme of the session – “Fundamental Rights in Europe”. So while we celebrate 25 years of German reunification in 2015, we also hope for a stable, pluralist and safe Europe in the future.

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