Start date: May 15, 2015,
End date: Oct 14, 2015
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have been EU member states for almost 11 years. Nevertheless, the fact that the voter turnout in European Parliament election has been the lowest (when compared with the voter turnouts in other elections held in both countries) clearly indicates that the public interest in EU membership has been decreasing in both countries. Population’s lack of interest and its incomprehension of the basic context in the areas of policy, economy, civic participation and European integration are also the result of the lack of education in these areas and the absence of public debates on the real impact the EU membership has on both countries. General knowledge of European Union is very limited. Moreover, for vast majority of the public, the debates on EU membership represent only the discussions about banning traditional rum brand, light bulbs or vacuum cleaners, etc. However, so-called euro-myths are not Czech or Slovakian particularity. They tend to arise in all EU member states. They usually emerge in connection with enlargement of the EU. Enlargement of the EU in 2004 was also accompanied by the emergence of various concerns in both the old and the new member states. While the citizens of the older member states were expressing their concerns about losing their jobs, criminality increase, or the possible flow of cheap goods from the East, the citizens of the new member states were worried about increase in unemployment, disappearance of local producers, or possible increase in prices. Nevertheless, most of the concerns turned out to be far from reality. Nowadays, the integration process still continues. Currently both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine are considering joining the EU. Both countries show their interest in EU membership, and especially local young people have very positive attitude to EU, although their expectancies are often unrealistic. On the other hand, some of the local citizens perceive concerns similar to Czech and Slovakian concerns before their entrance to EU in 2004.
The above mentioned reasons led to the decision of the partnering organizations from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine come up with a project that would deal with these issues. Our objective is to increase the awareness of young people about the EU membership through the exchange and collective work of the groups from the two member countries and two countries that are still far from becoming a member.
Following a preparatory meeting that was be attended by a delegation of the coordinator and young participant from each country, project partners organized the exchange itself, which was attended by 49 participants from four countries involved. They were the young people aged 18-30 years, with an emphasis on active participation of students from secondary schools and universities. A preparatory meeting focused on preparing the agenda and allocation of tasks between the various partner organizations. The exchange focused on non-formal education of young people in the EU and their own work. Interactive lectures, discussions, brainstorming, work in national groups, presentations of participants and individual work of participants were presented during the exchange. Besides, there was be an excursion to the Slovak village near the border with Austria, which consisted of discussions with the local mayor and Austrian partners about the real impact of EU membership at local level.
The following impact of the exchange is expected: strengthening of cooperation between partner organizations and strengthen of their international dimension, identifying of myths or exaggerated expectations related to the process of European integration from the participants, relevant responses to them, subsequent active involvement of young people in public life; as well as strengthening of knowledge of young people – increased awareness about the European integration and the values of the European Union; strengthening of intercultural awareness among young participants of the Exchange and improving of their language and other skills.
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