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Brussels, 28 November 2002

"Spring day in Europe": schools are getting ready to discuss the future of the European Union.

Several hundred schools have already registered for the "Spring day in Europe" on 21 March, when, on the initiative of certain members of the European Convention, all schools in the Member Sates and the candidate countries are invited to discuss the future of the Union. The initiative, which was supported by the Presidium of the Convention and the Council of Ministers of Education of the EU on 11 and 12 November, is intended to explain European integration issues to the younger generation and to make them aware of the part that Europe might play in their daily life, not only now but even more so in the future.

At a press conference held today in Brussels, three members of the Convention - Michel Barnier, the European Commissioner, and Georgios Katiforis and Olivier Duhamel, Members of the European Parliament - called upon secondary schools to join those which had already registered. The three promoters of the project also called upon elected representatives and representatives of European, national and local institutions to go to schools that day to take part in the debates with the young people.

"Whilst young Europeans very largely support the European project, a recent survey showed that barely a third of them viewed enlargement of the Union favourably. It is now high time to involve them more closely in the European project by means of dialogue and discussion", Michel Barnier declared. Olivier Duhamel added: "We are trying to build a greater Europe for the 21st century which will be run by the adolescents of today. This is why it is so important for them to turn their attention to the European Union and vice versa". Georges Katiforis stressed that "it is important for young people in Europe to be aware as soon as possible of their European citizenship, which is assuming ever greater importance alongside their national citizenship".

During the press conference, two teachers who belong to the project's Teachers Team, Christiane Haamann from Denmark and János Blasszauer from Hungary, explained why they were interested in participating in the Spring day in Europe.

The European Commission has helped to set up a computerised information, contact and exchange facility for the participants in cooperation with the European school network, mainly made up of the Member States' and the candidate countries' Ministries of Education. The site is open at the address

where European schools and their teachers will find all the information they need to register for the project.

Participation can take a variety of forms: a discussion, a meeting with people responsible for European affairs, a debate between the pupils at one school or between pupils from schools in different countries, either directly or via the Internet. The results will be accessible on the same Internet site in June.

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