10th edition of the Summer Academy
Already for the 10th time, seniors from all over Europe gathered in Vienna for the yearly Summer Academy at the Politische Akademie der ÖVP. From the very start in the history of the Summer Academy, one could notice the eagerness and enthusiasm of the diverse group of seniors that participated in the various sessions. From North to South, from West to East, all regions were represented during these 10 years of sharing insights and experiences. And that is the key to the success: the unprejudiced attitude of connecting with others. Thanks to the Politische Akademie der ÖVP, the Martens Centre, the Österreichischer Seniorenbund and the EPP, we were able to build up this tradition and gather in Vienna.
Also this year’s festive edition was well-received by all participants. During the Presidium and Executive Committee, we were proud to grant the Kovács K. Zoltán Seniors’ Club Association (IKE) the observer status in the ESU and welcomed them for the Summer Academy. After these meetings, we all celebrated the initiator of the Summer Academy, Ms. Marilies Flemming, for her relentless efforts to inspire and empower seniors throughout the European Union. This was also acknowledged by Ms. Ingrid Korosec, prof. dr. Otto Wulff, dr. Bernard Worms and our President An Hermans who all took the floor to honour Ms. Flemming for all her work. Even EPP President Mr. Joseph Daul addressed his gratitude towards her and underlined the importance of this initiative in a video-message, which can be found below. A wonderful tour at the Schönbrunn castle and a well-deserved diner closed down an interesting first day of the Summer Academy.
The second day was dedicated to academic and political insights on the European elections and what is beyond. “Let’s open a new chapter for Europe” was not only the title of this year’s edition, but also the title of the EPP Manifesto. The Strategic Coordinator and Research Officer of the Martens Centre, Mr. Frederico Reho elaborated further on the insights of prof. dr. Steven Van Hecke. Both speakers noticed that the European Union still has plenty of challenges ahead, but should seize the opportunity to overcome those problems.
One of the opportunities that was subsequently addressed by Ms. Buda is the future trade relations of the European Union with third countries, and notably China. Her interesting view on the EU as global economic actor blended in with the presentation of our Vice-President Heinz K. Becker on the latest developments of a social Europe.
But one of the main characteristics and strengths of the Summer Academy is the active participation of our own members. The discussion on the Country Reports became a tradition and had again an important role during this session. With the recent European elections in mind, these reports have a vital function in analyzing the situation in our member’s countries.
Numerous members filed their input or took the floor during Saturday’s closing session. It again showed how engaged seniors were during the campaign. They organized conferences to voice their concerns, they encouraged people to go to vote, they exposed once more that their active citizenship plays an important role in civil society and politics.
After the Holy Mass and a group picture on Sunday, our Vice-President Heinz K. Becker shared his views on the challenges and opportunities of migration. As a former member of the LIBE committee, he brought this complex issue with a tremendous expertise and clarity.
Two days of inspiring and enriching discussions were closed down by our President An Hermans, concluding that the tradition that Marilies has started will continue for at least another 10 years. The last words of the Summer Academy by Vice-President Carmen Quintanilla perfectly captured the feelings of all participants: “This 10th Summer Academy was again a very interesting one, but I missed one person: Marilies Flemming. In all the previous years she was our inspiration and our guide. But also in the future she will be with us and she will inspire us.”