Should Europe focus on growing its markets, or strengthen its social programs? That choice was debated by two politicians and two student debaters in front of an interested and active audience at the Technischen Universität Dresden on the 11th of November. The debate was part of the German debate series Klartext Europa and the IDEA debate project Debate changing Europe. Dr. Cornelia Ernst (MEP) and Dresden Debating Union (DDU) member Alexander Stötzner support the proposition side that argued for more social programs, while Alexander Stötzner, chair of the Saxon Committee on European Affairs, and DDU member Gerrik Verhees argued against the motion and for a stronger market orientation.
Alexander Stötzner began the debate by arguing that the EU should pose a clear social alternative to powers like China and Russia. Gerrik Verhees countered by saying the EU already has a strong focus on social affairs and can only achieve more internationally by becoming a bigger player. Dr Cornelia Ernst discussed how the entry of several poorer countries in 2004 requires the EU to focus on a social safety net for its citizens. Markus Franke, lastly, pointed to the need for an economic base for any social welfare state and argued that we should not build the one without having the other. The expertise of the politicians and rhetoric skills of all debaters meant that the audience was engrossed in the debate despite the complicated themes. So much so, that the end result of the audience poll was a 50/50 vote for both sides. You can see the full debate in this video. Or read the report in German.
Debate changing Europe
The debate series Debate changing Europe aims to let students debate about themes of European-wide importance in tournaments and public debates. It is a cooperation project between IDEA NL and university debating organisations in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden. The winners of the local tournaments were offered a chance to participate in a Common European Event from June 2-6, where they learned how European policy is made and how they can influence it, which they then taught to other young people in their own countries. IDEA NL will present an open source advocacy manual on the basis of this project.
Debate changing Europe is made possible with funding from Youth in Action.