Brussels, 8 May 2009
Six hundred European officials will return to their old school this year, many of them on or around Europe Day, May 9. The idea is to "give Europe a face" and to take part in discussions with school students on European issues of interest to them. The 'Back to School' initiative, which started in 2007, is run this year in nine EU Countries from March to November.
'This is a down-to-earth way of getting in touch with the next generation of Europeans,' said Margot Wallström, Vice President of the Commission, responsible for inter-institutional relations and communication strategy. 'Returning to your roots is a great way to connect with young people and discuss how the EU affects our day-to-day lives. Maybe even more importantly, it is a great opportunity to find out what young people want and expect from Europe.' The commissioner herself frequently meets with students while on mission, and plans to visit the Alyssa School in Birmingham on 14 May.
In many member states, the initiative is being run in cooperation with the national authorities. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel took part in an event at the science-oriented Lise-Meitner-Schule (Lise Meitner School) in Berlin.
The visits are organised in connection with Spring Day for Europe, a Commission-funded project for schools now in its seventh year.
About 50 Members of the European Parliament, including the President of the Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, five Commissioners (Wallström, Figel', Kuneva, Kovacs, Orban) and other European opinion makers such as Poland's Nobel Prize winner Lech Walesa and the French writer Marc Levy will take part in Spring Day activities this year.
The "Back to School" initiative offers officials of the EU institutions the possibility to revisit their old schools to talk about their European career choice, their current jobs and the challenges and opportunities of living and working across borders. It was launched in 2007 by the Commission and the German Government as part of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Treaty of Rome. Since then, successive EU Council Presidencies have joined the exercise, and this year it is extended to a further group of countries beyond the Czech and Swedish Presidencies.
Calendar of 2009 Back to School days for Commission officials:
Austria: 4-9 May
Latvia: 9 May
Czech Republic: 15 May
Portugal: 22 May
Ireland: 31 August- 4 September
Sweden: 20 November
The Netherlands: November (date to be confirmed)
Hungary: all year round
Germany: already implemented (9 to 15 March)
"Back to school" events running during the month of May are integrated into the "Spring Day" initiative.
Further information on Spring Day for Europe: