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Conference Report: “30 years of Jean Monnet Activities: Why study the European Union today?” Brussels, 18 June 2019
30 years ago Jacqueline Lastenouse-Bury, Director of the European Commission, initiated the Jean Monnet Actions, with focus on the study on the EU[i]. This programme developed over time, became more and more interdisciplinary and truly transnational running activities in almost 100 countries, many far beyond the European Union, but with a visible exclusion of the African continent. The programme of the event explored with Jean Monnet Professors, students, journalists and policy makers the past, present and future of the programme.
The programme concentrated from the start on Academic Teaching, it was amazing to notice how little thought was given to the need for education on the European Union in Teacher Training, School education and Non- and In-Formal Education. Even during the meeting the Jean Monnet Chairs seemed to be reluctant to embrace the need to broaden the programme. Teacher Education and Non-academic Education were still very far from their reality, as among the career opportunities for European Studies possible jobs in these fields were not mentioned.
The student speakers in the event gave evidence that being part of the programme was much more than only learning about the EU. They personally experienced the importance of cross-border approaches in study fields as law, international relations, diplomacy, economy and history and consequently felt inspired to become engaged in extra-curricular, civil society activities.
However change is coming. Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics announced in his opening speech that he has asked for a double budget for the Jean Monnet Activities after 2020 and opts broadening the programme to school education. During the panel on the future of the programme it became clear that such adjustment was welcomed by several panellists.
EUROCLIO has been working on teaching about European and EU History. Bob Stradling wrote a rationale for the first Decisions and Dilemmas, which has become a key reference for all the work on teaching about Europe.
The Historiana Unit Changing Europe is the main result of this work with resources developed in different projects. It is looking at the challenges that the EU was facing once it was created and the dilemmas that decision makers were facing when balancing European and national interests. Topics covered are: Economic imbalances, the EU as a Global Power, Energy Dependency, Borders, Foreign Policy, Defence, Trade and Agriculture and food security. Some of the materials is available in different languages.
A short history of the European Union and a multi-stranded timeline are produced by Francesco Scatigna. These tools help to put the history of the EU in its historical perspective and demonstrate how the European Project was different from previous initiatives to create stability in Europe
EUROCLIO has offered professional development trainings on the materials. A thematic seminar "Teaching European Integration. How and why?, on 22-24 November 2019 at the House of European History in Brussels is currently organised.
An elaborate research report based on the analysis of history textbooks in all 28 EU member states was carried out by EUROCLIO in partnership with the Universitat Pompeu Fabra of Barcelona involving history educators from all EU member states. In its conclusions it considers this report as a first step to raise awareness on the importance of history education on the European Union for young people and societies as a whole. The new Jean Monnet Programme might enable further action with its focus on school education.
I was happy to have been invited for this interesting event on an important programme but was struck by its lack of diversity and inclusivity, currently a key issue in current EU Affairs. The programme was still quite male dominant and there were neither speakers representing the Scandinavian Member States nor the new EU Members after 2004 or representatives of any minority or migrant community. Also issues the future Jean Monnet programme should address.
Joke van der Leeuw –Roord, historian and founding President, Special Advisor and former Executive Director of EUROCLIO