Blog: European Democratic Academy — federalism in theory and practice
December 7, 2022

Blog: European Democratic Academy — federalism in theory and practice

Last month, from 9-13 November, as a Young European Ambassador from Lithuania, I took a part in the “European Democratic Academy: Federalism in Theory and Practice”, an International Seminar organised in Prague. About 20 young activists from all over Europe took part in the Academy, participating in lectures and seminars on the ideas of ​​federalism, inclusiveness, democracy and a united Europe.

The event was organised by the Young European Federalists (JEF Europe), a political youth NGO advocating for the creation of a democratic European federation as a guarantee for peace, the rule of law and human rights. JEF Europe promotes true European citizenship, works for the widening and deepening of the European Union, and strives for a more just and integrated society on the European continent. The Academy was organised as part of the “Democracy here. Democracy now” campaign, and sponsored by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

The programme of the Academy was very intensive, so on the very first day after meeting the organisers and all the participants, we started to immerse ourselves in the theory of federalism. The first day’s programme consisted of a presentation by Antonio Argenziano, current president of JEF Europe, and guest speakers Éva Bóka and Davide Muraro. We discussed topics such as the history of European integration and federalism, the development of an idea of “Europe of Nations” to federalism, federalism and democracy, and arguments for and against. Participants took part in discussions, worked in groups on presentations of popular opinions for and against federalism, and learned how to build an argument in debates.

One of the speakers presented the Dispositio system for structuring and argument. If you have never heard about it, here is some additional information on the steps in the process:

  1. INVENTIO (search and discovery) — the initial phase in which arguments and topics are collected.
  2. DISPOSITIO (argument) — this is the next stage when you structure your arguments and topics.
  3. ELUCUTIO (style) — the phase when a person dresses their arguments in a suitable linguistic costume. Words must be formed and language adapted to the subject, audience and speaker. 
  4. MEMORIA (memory) – the key part of preparation when writing a speech. It is important to remember what to say and practice it.
  5. ACTIO (delivery) — this is the final stage of your presentation. 
  6. Inform
  7. Catch attention
  8. Persuade

The second and third days of the Academy were no less productive. Invited experts Robin Mudry, Yannis Karamitsios, Óliver Soto and Diletta Alese took us deeper into the idea of ​​federalism, democracy and inclusion. Participants were able to learn more about the development of democracy from antiquity to the present, and discuss what challenges and obstacles democracy faces today and why we have to fight for it.

As part of the teamwork and discussions, participants addressed questions such as what the European Union is and whether the European State has a future, what are the main authorities of the EU and a separate state, does this system work effectively today and why federalism can become a way of developing democracy.

After discussing ideas and theoretical concepts, we moved on to the more practical part, “Political Communication and Creativity in Communication”. Participants got acquainted with the concept of Albert Mehrabian, or the so-called 7% rule (which states that 7% of meaning is communicated through the spoken word, 38% through tone of voice, and 55% through body language), considering its application in practice and in political campaigns. We highlighted examples of successful campaigns, discussed their target audience, the means of communication used, and the call to action. Subsequently, we tried to develop several possible political campaigns on the proposed topics and ways to implement them.

Thus, the first, educational part of the Academy passed, and the second part began, in which we were able to see the work of the JEF Federal Committee in practice, observe political debates and the developing of political positions and advocacy plans in real-time.

Summing up our work was the final part of the week. Each participant presented a social project and plans for its implementation, which means that the end of the Seminar is not the end of our fruitful cooperation.

After my participation in the European Democratic Academy and gaining new knowledge, I can say that the idea of ​​a European Federation seems quite attractive, but far from the model that we see today. Does democracy have a chance? Definitely yes, but only by joint efforts can we save it and change it for the better. We face a lot of challenges and risks on our way to building a better future, but this is something worth fighting for. The Academy immersed me in intensive training for six days, after which my views will not be the same. The most valuable experience during my time in Prague was the contact with people who believe in their ideas and stand up for their values. This includes many young activists who are ready to implement the most daring projects in life and change this world. This experience has definitely influenced me in a positive way, and I hope that the first launch of this International Seminar will be the beginning of something important and that the Academy will continue to invite new young people to create the future together.

Author of the article: The Young European Ambassador – Volha

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