+ What are the Student Debate Circles?

The Student Debate Circles is a project created by ECIT for the creation of permanent associations of students throughout Europe. The aim is for these groups to discuss European citizenship and the ways it can be an answer to the challenges currently faced by the EU.


+ Who can join?

The Debate Circles are desirably, but not exclusively, for Law, European Studies and Political Science students due to their knowledge and interests. The diverse academic perspectives on the same matters will enrich the debates and their outcomes.


+ Which topics will be covered?

ECIT will provide material related to one among many diverse topics, such as Euro-scepticism and political discourse; European history and identity, or the enforcement of European citizens’ rights and cases in the European Court of Justice, to cite but a few examples.


+ How will the Student Debate Circles work?

Firstly, the objective is that these groups are managed by students in the way they consider best. The scope of the debates and the different activities performed by them will always be set according to the criteria of the students. Furthermore, we will always welcome suggestions and feedback that we can send to the other groups throughout Europe. However, there will be some guidelines concerning the output. On a regular basis, there will be a topic about which the students will need to write a paper with their findings and, in many cases, recommendations. The paper should reflect the different views on the subject if there was no clear agreement in the group. The involvement of teachers of each university is not strictly necessary and the groups can perform their activities without external mediation. However, a minimum of supervision regarding the output can be desirable for the universities as the circles will draft papers about highly significant topics.


+ What will ECIT’s role be in all of this?

ECIT will serve as a connection between the different groups, and will set certain parameters for the  desired outcome. Each month we will introduce a topic and illustrate it with different papers and news, giving depth to the debate. All the output collected by each group will be collected and synthesised so that it can be sharing through our website. Another interesting feature is the creation of an e-journal that will serve as another platform for the circles. Finally, ECIT and its partners could also involve the students over the longer term in collaboration with research, ideas, events or projects, also thanks to the different EU mobility programmes.


+ What are the benefits to taking part in these Student Debate Circles?

The initiative will create multiple active groups dedicated to the debate, critique and search for proposals regarding the future of European citizenship as such. In addition to this, getting students together from different countries and disciplines to discuss such a significant topic can be very useful for both parties. The students will benefit from this initiative by gaining knowledge, a broader perspective, analytical and teamwork skills, and a very active network of contacts. ECIT will benefit by raising awareness of the topic and engaging citizens in a more active and critical participation in European issues. Once the groups are settled, ECIT will promote communication between the different groups via email, through videoconferences or personally, enabling the exchange of views and the construction of a network. The creation of this network has great potential as it will contain many circles of engaged and participative students around Europe. One of the functions of such a network will be to draft proposals which will be sent to EU decision makers and help ECIT develop the Guidelines for the Charter on European Citizenship. However, the students will be the ones who unfold all the possibilities that this network of circles offers with their enthusiasm and creativity.


+ What sort of questions and topics will be explored during the Debates?

Examples of possible questions and topics include:

  • To what extent is European citizenship an extension of our nationality and is it transnational through the opening up of our respective territories and citizenships to each other, or is it a genuinely post-national citizenship with its own existence?
  • Should the rights attached to European citizenship be limited to nationals of EU Member States or should they be extended to all those legally resident in the EU? What is the relationship between European rights and universal rights in the UN Charter, the Council of Europe’s Convention on Human Rights or the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights?
  • How to make European citizenship work properly and close the gap between the fine principles of these conventions and the way people, especially those who are vulnerable, are treated in practice? What reforms are necessary to enforce their rights?
  • How well does the concept of citizenship fit with the Institutions and different decision-making processes of the EU? Will citizens really have a voice through existing channels dominated by expertise and lobbies? How to ensure that expectations created by the promise of involvement are not disappointed as the recent failure of European Citizens’ Initiatives suggests?
  • How to educate from an early age, communicate and involve for a European citizenship based on mutual trust and which belongs to all? Like the European Union itself, is not European citizenship too much of an elite driven project? Its advantages are enjoyed by a relatively privileged, mobile, well educated and linguistically competent few, excluding those less fortunate.
  • Could a broader European citizenship be conceived, as distinct from a narrow EU citizenship, based not so much on a fixed territory but shared values and capable of resisting the downward spiral of extreme nationalism and xenophobia?

Interested in setting up a Student Debate Circle in your university? Have a read of our Seven Steps Guide!
Seven Steps to Setting Up and Running a Student Debate Circle on European Citizenship (PDF, 159 KB)

Student Debate Circles – Upcoming events

There are no upcoming events at this time. Please check back soon.

Student Debate Circles – Reports from past events

Report from the Student Debate Circle held in Budapest on 11 December 2015

Report from the Student Debate Circle held in Maastricht on 11 December 2015