Conference ‘Borderless Europe: Blessing or Burden’ – May 2016

The Franck Biancheri Award Conference “Borderless Europe: Blessing or Burden?”  was held in Cluj-Napoca, in the heart of Transylvania (Romania), between the 6th and 9th of May 2016, gathering together around 60 youngsters from all over Europe and beyond. The event was a collaboration between AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca, l’Association des Amis des Franck Biancheri  (AAFB) and AEGEE-Europe’s Your Vision for EUrope project. The conference was highly “international”, including participants and speakers from Romania, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Nigeria, Greece, Poland, France and the Netherlands.

In these three days of workshops, panel discussions and the screening of the “Great European Disaster Movie”, we discussed the current state of the European integration process, its political and moral crises and how EU is dealing with the current migration phenomenon. The major topic of the conference was “borders in Europe”, whether these be physical, socio-economic, cultural or political. This, in turn, led to the exchange of ideas regarding the current state of the Schengen agreement, the idea of a borderless Europe and how it can be transferred in social and institutional terms. Lastly, we thought about what we, as young people, can do to break borders and stereotypes.

As the Franck Biancheri Award 2016 was awarded to AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca, the conference was also an occasion to commemorate and discuss the life and cultural legacy of Franck Biancheri, founder of AEGEE-Europe and already during the 1980s a promoter of a transnational democratic Europe. Marie-Hélène Caillol, Marianne Ranke-Cormier and Georgeta Grama Moldovan, representatives of the “Association des amis de Franck Biancheri” (AAFB) gave first-hand accounts of Franck’s life and ideas, and the birth of AEGEE in 1985 in particular.

The event was made possible thanks to AAFB, which provided financial support, and AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca, which hosted the event and organized not only every logistical aspect but also an amazing social programme.

During the conference, everyone agreed that “We, as young Europeans, are not responsible for the present worrisome state of the European project, but we are responsible for its future, and that is why we cannot sit idle”.

This conference is also the result of a great cooperation between AEGEE-Europe and AAFB.