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EU Project Day

Europe's diversity is its strength

To mark this year's EU Project Day, Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the future of Europe with students in Berlin. As she said afterwards, "I saw myself how Europe is part of everyday school life here."

Angela Merkel during the discussion with students Europe is built on a community Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel

At precisely 11 a.m. the Chancellor arrived at the secondary school Johann-Gottfried-Herder-Gymnasium in Berlin-Lichtenberg. She was given an enthusiastic welcome by 150 students, including drummers. First of all the Chancellor was able to find out more about the school’s projects, including "CertiLingua" and "Go Green".

In their project Gesine Knauer and Seraphine Schuster look at environmentally sound food production. The project, entitled "Go Green", has allowed young Germans, Poles and Latvians to explore their views of sustainable food production, development policy and climate policy. Angela Merkel can understand only too well how difficult it can be to agree on a common position.

More Europe in future

During the panel discussion on Europe a lively and interesting debate ensued. In response to the introductory question as to whether we need more or less Europe in future, the Chancellor answered with conviction, "There will be more Europe." Europe, she said is a project that builds on a community.

And the Chancellor added, "In the long term, we will only be well off in Germany if Europe is well off." Germany will have to become more competitive she said, if it is to hold its own against such emerging nations as India and China.

Numerous issues were raised during the discussion, including the euro crisis, immigration and policy on granting asylum, as well as climate-related issues.

A personal incentive for the Chancellor

Time went far too quickly for the students. The student representative, Katja Hertha, reported, "We thoroughly enjoyed it. The discussion with the Chancellor was a marvellous thing."

After 90 minutes the Chancellor thanked the students for their warm welcome. "I have seen for myself how Europe is simply part of everyday school life here – through learning foreign languages, through the European projects that are a self-evident part of school life. The most encouraging thing for me though is that I can go away in the knowledge that the vast majority of students here want to see a good Europe," declared Angela Merkel. That is a huge personal incentive for me, she added.

More than 750 students attend the Johann-Gottfried-Herder-Gymnasium in Berlin-Lichtenberg, which offers a special focus on languages. In addition to English, which is taught as the first foreign language, students can learn Russian, French and Spanish. From Grade 5 the school offers bilingual instruction. Geography, history and political studies are taught in English.

Since 2010 the school has awarded the "CertiLingua" alongside the German school leaving qualification, the Abitur. CertiLingua is a certificate of excellence awarded for high levels of competence in two modern foreign languages and the ability to act in a European or international context.

Numerous politicians speak about Europe

On EU Project Day many Cabinet ministers took the opportunity to discuss Europe with young people. Members of the German Bundestag, the European Parliament and the German state parliaments, as well as the state premiers of the German federal states were also involved. And German staff members working for the institutions of the European Union visited schools.

The Deputy Government Spokeswoman Sabine Heimbach visited the Marcel-Breuer School in Berlin-Pankow, an upper secondary centre offering woodworking, glass working and design. The Deputy Government Spokesman Georg Streiter visited the upper secondary centre for health professionals in Berlin-Wedding on 7 May.

The EU Project Day has become a modern tradition. This was the seventh time it has been held. The Project Day was initiated by Chancellor Angela Merkel, and was held for the first time in 2007, during Germany’s EU Presidency. It has become an important date in Europe Week every May.

Information for teachers

Every type of school and age group can take part in the EU Project Day. Politicians decide themselves which schools they would like to visit.

The Federal Agency for Civic Education has compiled a set of European policy publications, which every school can request free of charge. If additional sets are required, the school may order these from the Federal Agency, but the school will be charged for some of these materials.

May 06, 2013