EPM Leiden: Impressions from and Information on the European Planning Meeting Leiden 2016

During the last five days of February 2016, the European Planning Meeting (EPM) took place in Leiden/Netherlands. 350 AEGEE members from almost all countries gathered to set up new objectives for the Action Agenda, which is the third and last one of the current Strategic Plan. Whaaaat? Yes, our association has means and goals, it has a vision and mission.

We want to achieve something in our locals and as an association, so we have an Action Agenda to follow. It’s easier for members and non-members to understand what AEGEE stands for when there are clear objectives. So: for the years 2014 to 2017, there is a Strategic Plan which elaborates four main Focus Areas, which are Civic Education, Youth Mobility, Youth Employment and Spreading Europtimism. Each Focus Area has a Working Group, that concentrates on the aims and objectives written in the Action Agenda. These objectives are drafted on the yearly European Planning Meetings and adjusted and confirmed on the Spring Agora of the same year. The Action Agenda Coordination Team (ACTies) pursues the fulfillment of those goals and kicks the locals in the ass. You can find the new set objectives here.

After carefully reading that, you now have an idea about what was going on on the EPM Leiden. Leiden, half an hour train ride from Amsterdam, a small city with a great university, and from the 25th to 29th of February 2016 full of European students. Because the thematic topic besides drafting the Action Agenda was on Refugees, we, Viki, Nico and Clemens from Dresden, learned a lot about the current situation in terms of policies, treatment of the refugees and laws in European countries. Not only the Living Library, but also panel discussions with externals, a thematic movie (Outlawed), speeches and workshops gave us many new perspectives to think about when it comes to the current refugees crisis. It was impressive how intense some discussions became, and how each participant was able to contribute something from their own country and experience.

Voting during EPM Leiden 2016

Voting session during EPM Leiden 2016

When the thematic part of the EPM was over, we headed on to drafting the Action Agenda. The procedure was explained in detail and everybody was glad when we finally started the first steps on Saturday afternoon. We split up in the Focus Areas groups and passed through the steps: Workshop, State of the Art and Future, Let’s get drafting, Change Your Mind, Make it Perfect and Put it into Practice. On the second last afternoon, the AEGEE fair made by participants and locals itself was taking place, and enriched us – especially because the new Summer University maps were spread for the first time :) After the Chair closed the EPM on Sunday afternoon and many locals made an effort to get their stolen flags back (greetings to Istanbul, Heidelberg, Ankara, Utrecht, …), finally the European Night could take place.

The social programme was very diverse, we had thematic parties like Pyjama Party, Gender Blender and the Formal Party for the first night after the great opening ceremony in the National Museum of Antiquities. Even though the nights were long, I personally appreciated the interesting workshops and the creative and constructive atmosphere during the whole event. Not only meeting new people and travelling means being an active AEGEE-member, but also contributing to what the association stands for and exchanging ideas and perspectives made me feel like a real AEGEEan on the European Planning Meeting.

Huge thanks to AEGEE-Leiden for organizing such a high quality event!

Written by Viktoria Schwarz