Young conservatives came together in Brussels to talk about how they see the future of Europe, in response to the Conference on the Future of Europe, the EU democracy experiment promoted by the institutions, where randomly selected citizens had a say in EU policymaking.
The organisers heavily criticised the experiment and organised the events with the young generation as a way to give more space to their idea of Europe.
Talks focused on how they see potential EU reform and what the EU should look like.
The event was organised by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group at the European Parliament with the aim to create connections among the youngest who feel conservatism is their political family.
The co-chair of the ECR group, Ryszard Antoni Legutko from the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS), was among those welcoming the young people on the first panel that took place on Wednesday (20 September).
The introductory panel was dedicated to describing how the EU – in particular the European Parliament – works, underlying which aspects of the institutions the group is critical of.
Legutko argued that in the EU there is an “asymmetry of powers” among the 27 member states and that this has become particularly marked since the Lisbon Treaty was signed in 2009.
“There is a tendency since the Lisbon Treaty to make this asymmetry a reality,” the ECR co-chair said.
Legutko described the European Parliament as “bizarre” when compared to national parliaments because MEPs can decide to sanction a country, such as Hungary, when there are rule of law issues.
“This is disgraceful, MEPs from other countries can punish another one,” he said.
Hungary and Poland are among the countries to have been sanctioned by the EU institutions in recent years after it was found that they had violated basic principles of democracy, such as the protection of minorities and the division of power and media independence.
The European Parliament declared last year that Hungary “is no longer a democracy”.
EU inaction has contributed to Hungary’s 'electoral autocracy', MEPs say
EU lawmakers have condemned the bloc’s failure to confront Hungary over breaches of rule of law and values, saying that the country has become a “hybrid regime of electoral autocracy” and can no longer be defined as a democracy.
Other speakers included the Dutch ECR MEP Michiel Hoogeveen, which instead of the European Parliament as it is, proposed a parliament in which there should be “national politicians.
Many of the speakers used the phrase “Euro-realism” to describe the direction they want the European Union to pursue.
During the first panel, identity politics was among the most discussed issues by the young delegates.
“Conservatism means for me being able to build a family, preserve tradition, being able to love and have kids without worrying what the Left people think,” Nanna Vaatainen told Euractiv.
Similarly, German delegate Niklas Kortling told Euractiv the event was a “great opportunity to connect with the others of the ECR party”.
He believes that even though national ECR parties can have different ideas on individual policies “we all share the same values”.
Italian MEP Carlo Fidanza described to the audience the “ideological agenda” of some multinational companies, which, he argued, were harming young generations, such as the idea of a ‘fluid society’.
“The influence of the commercial message of multinational corporations has espoused the ideological agenda for business reasons, which affects people’s customs. Forced ideologisation that comes from things like the ‘gender theory’ is too far from common sense and does not respect individual sensibility,” he argued during his speech.
[Edited by Benjamin Fox/Zoran Radosavljevic]
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