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EPAS project: students as "European Ambassadors"

A new initiative to foster a better understanding and knowledge of EU institutions and functioning

EPAS project: students as "European Ambassadors"

Claudia Astarita

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Klaus Welle - the current Secretary General of European Parliament - has a new ambitious aim: to conquer youths' approval towards the European project.

For this reason, the European Union (EU) has launched a new initiative called European Parliament Ambassador School (EPAS), which is already active for its second year. EPAS' goal is the one of informing students on main European themes, such as EU integration history, to foster a better understanding and knowledge of EU institutions and functioning.

This training path involves both teachers and pupils in order to change the actual situation of a young European electorate more and more disaffected. In fact, schools are the venues where young people opinions are forged over time and, for this reason, EPAS is identified as a crucial tool to change young people's perception of the EU.

EPAS target group includes youths between 16 and 18 years old, who are (almost) ready to exercise their political rights (such as the vote) and who have a (more or less) defined political opinion.

All EU member states seem to have welcomed this program and a number of schools throughout the territory have become partners. In particular, the states where the project had more success were The Nederlands and Ireland.

In Italy, EPAS arrived in 2015 and it was coordinated by the Italian delegation of European Parliament. In the school year 2015/2016, 24 Italian schools were involved in the project and 8 have become "ambassadors of the European Parliament". Given the great amount of resources required to carry on EPAS activities, 8 should not be considered as a small number. In fact, some of the activities part of the project are meetings with Euro-deputies, students' production of mock-institutional processes and informative material. Undoubtedly, these accomplishments require a remarkable economic commitment by the school, along with being very time-consuming. Nevertheless, initiatives like EPAS are essential to assure a united Europe in the future.

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