“Power Shifts – Reflecting Europe´s Energy” is a project by the European Youth Parliament and the Schwarzkopf Foundation in cooperation with the RWE Foundation. Throughout Europe it enables young people to monitor, inform themselves and debate about European energy policy. The project will focus on the diversity and interdependency of energy policy on the European level, while France, Poland and Germany will serve as national example cases.
Within the project, young people in the network of the EYP will monitor energy policy in Europe and inform themselves and debate about current trends and discussions in this field with relevant experts and decision-makers. Led by a steering group of young people who will further develop the academic content of the project, the main activities of the project will be three academic forums in Lyon, France in 2015, in Warsaw, Poland in 2016 and in Germany in 2017. These countries embody relevant national cases for comparing long term strategies toward energy transition and agenda setting in the European Union.
Energy is possibly the most interdependent political issue of the 21st century. In the past years, we have experienced decreasing stocks of fossil fuels, the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, alarming studies on climate change and debates over social sustainability of rising costs for energy supply. Furthermore energy supply was used as political leverage by several states and hence clearly constitutes an important aspect in international political relations. The upcoming years will see crucial debates regarding the direction to take to secure the future of Europe’s energy supply. And while energy-related issues are still mainly being debated on a national level, it seems clear that solutions will have to be European, if not global. The EYP believes that it is not only important to discuss these issues on a European level but moreover to discuss it with young people as they will have to live with these transitions in our energy landscape.
Three focus countries, France, Poland and Germany will each host an international youth forum in the project timeline from 2015 until 2017 involving over 100 young participants from all over Europe. In 2015 the Academic Power Shifts Forum in Lyon, France, hosted 120 participants from 26 European countries for seven days. Warsaw, Poland will follow in October 2016 and the German conference will be organised in summer 2017.
Participants & Programme
The participants will be both students who will participate in EYP for the first time and students who have participated before. During the event, they will sit in eight international committees and use their various fields of study to contribute to the discussion on future European energy policies from different perspectives. The programme of the conferences lasts for seven days, following the successful EYP model with Teambuilding, Committee Work and General assembly. Throughout the whole session, a Cultural Programme gives the participants the possibility to get acquainted with each other’s cultures and traditions. This process results in increased cultural awareness, self-confidence and mutual understanding, while at the same time tackling xenophobia and prejudices. Additionally, the focus will be on involving experts and decision makers in roundtable expert hearings.
Energy is possibly the most interdependent political issue of the 21st century. In the past years, we have experienced decreasing stocks of fossil fuels, the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, alarming studies on climate change and debates over social sustainability of rising costs for energy supply. Furthermore energy supply was used as political leverage by several states and hence clearly constitutes an important aspect in international political relations. The project’s Steering Group broke down the complex issue of energy into five dimensions in order to provide a framework for the project as a whole as well as for the participants’ work:
Foreign Policy and Security dimension
Energy has become an important political instrument. One main aspect of this dimension is energy security and it includes the security of energy supply and the security of particular state’s integrity. During the forum in Lyon, the participants focused on the ongoing tensions with Russia and Ukraine, the possible implications of the climate conference in Paris and the role of human rights in multinational energy projects.
We are yet to find a cost-effective way to transmit and store electrical energy at a large scale. Thus energy technology innovation is key to meeting economic, climate and security objectives. The participants discussed especially the future of nuclear energy and the use of fracking in the European Union.
Energy use and production affect the sustainability of our resources and, in the long-term, also the well-being of humankind. The project’s discussions about energy policies should thus include environmental perspectives.
Competitiveness and the functioning of society are dependent on reliable energy supply. The challenge is to ensure safe, secure and sustainable energy that is both economically affordable and profitable. This dimension was discussed by the young participants under the aspects of balancing energy transition efforts with economic growth as well as where the financial means of modernizing energy systems can and shall come from.
In the past decades, price changes of fuel, general energy sustainability as well as environmental concerns have raised awareness in varying levels of society on the way energy is produced and used.