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“It is pedagogy that allows young people to take an interest in European issues”

This Monday, May 9, is Europe Day. A day that takes on a special meaning with the war in Ukraine and the threat of Russia at the gates of Europe. Frédéric Bergelin, deputy director of the Maison de l’Europe in Dijon, is the guest of France Bleu Bourgogne.

On the occasion of Europe Day this Monday, May 9, the deputy director of the Maison de l’Europe in Dijon, Frédéric Bergelin, is the guest of France Bleu Bourgogne.

The Maison de l’Europe in Dijon intervenes in schools, from school, from primary school, to explain how the European institutions work. What are the themes that are most often discussed with our children?

The bulk of his work is intervention in the school environment, but not only. We intervene from CE1, CE2 to higher education with, I would say, approaches that can be a little different depending of course on the public. On the CE1, CE2, we are more on an approach of knowledge of the cultural diversity of the 27 countries which form the European Union. And then, on the colleges, we are more on the functioning of European construction, on its progress, on enlargements. When you get to high school or higher education, that’s when you start to deal with, I would say, institutional functioning, European governance. And there, we are developing different types of activities to make our young people in our territory understand how this Europe works.

This day of Europe, it must take on a particular meaning this year, with the war in Ukraine. We ask you questions, we talk to you about Ukraine during your speeches?

Yes, they ask questions. Like any citizen, are we going to end up with a third world war? Will the European Union and France have to go to war against Russia? What is the impact of this war? I would say about people’s daily lives, is that what makes us have a higher inflation rate? So we have daily questions and they are really afraid of going to war. And the nuclear issue, which we also hear a lot, worries young people, like all citizens.

Are they interested in the European institutions or not? Because we know that it can sometimes be a bit complicated as a mechanic…

So they are interested. Because in addition, we, it’s true that we have developed a certain number of activities to make them understood in a way, I would say, more dynamic. For example, we organize simulations of the Council of Ministers. We put young people, and in particular young high school students, in the shoes of a minister of a country for half a day. I am German Minister for the Environment, I am working on a text around the environment and I am going to seek compromises, consensus. And this way of approaching the institutions allows them to completely enter into this desire to learn. It is the way of doing education which, I believe, allows young people and those not so young from elsewhere to take an interest in European issues.

Where will the next day at the Council of European Ministers take place?

Indeed, that is a second exercise that we are carrying out. These are simulations of the European Parliament to help people understand how the Parliament and its transnational groups work. For the councils of ministers, we will then go to Auxerre, to the Lycée Fourier. Moreover, to tell you the truth, with the agents of the Burgundy Franche-Comté regional council, we will do a simulation on May 25, a simulation of the Council of Ministers. And we will put these agents of the regional council in the skin of a minister around a theme around the climate.

Do young people from Dijon feel European above all or rather French?

I think obviously it depends a little bit if you want. I don’t think you should look for something homogeneous. Depending on the young people you meet, the Côte d’Or and Bourgogne Franche-Comté is a vast region. It’s not the same when you’re in Dijon than when you’re in more rural areas. Or there, young people feel a little less European. When you are in Dijon, you feel more European.

You are organizing this evening in Chevigny-Saint-Sauveur an evening debate with the presence of Lucas Macek, who is director of Sciences Po Dijon. What will it be about?

In a few words, it’s an evening, what we call the decoder of Europe, that is to say that we give the floor to the citizens. And in partnership with the city of Chauvigny, we organized this evening debate. We start with people’s questions. So there will be questions around Ukraine, Europe, defence, but also education. So a whole series of questions that are asked directly by citizens and which we will try to answer with the director of Sciences Po.

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