On Monday 23 May, Helmholtz-Gymnasium (HHG) participated in a nationwide project day for the European Union (EU). Via a video conference, high school students in the social studies courses had the opportunity to speak with Katarina Barley, Vice-President of the European Parliament. In HHG, the video conference was broadcast on the big screen in the multi-hall.
The student Maya Lauer wanted to know from the SPD politician what she thinks about the “German arms deliveries to Ukraine – especially with regard to the EU”. “You have to support where you can,” Katarina Barley said. Although one can work further with the communication, she is of the opinion that the arms deliveries are “completely correct”. European colleagues also agreed. She also said that Germany would be one of the countries helping to rebuild Ukraine.
“Black spot on the west of the EU”
The students were not only interested in the EU’s relations with Ukraine, but also for the war attacker. Lucca Schuff asked “when can we talk about a repaired relationship with Russia again” and what does it take for that. Katarina Barley gave a clear answer to this question: “As long as Putin is there, it can not be repaired.” However, one must consider that the Russian civilian population also suffers from the sanctions. However, this is “Putin completely irrelevant”.
The social studies students compared the current situation of Ukrainian war refugees with the situation during the 2015/16 refugee wave. What is Katarina Barley’s opinion about the treatment of those affected? “Refugee policy is the black spot on the west of the EU,” the politician said. Because most decisions in the EU have to be made unanimously, it is very difficult to make a decision. In addition, the countries’ different attitudes – such as Poland – to the different refugee groups. Barley does not understand that differences are being made here and thinks it is “very annoying”.
Boost for renewable energy
The SPD politician also addressed the issue of Germany’s dependence on Russia and Qatar. “We need to become completely independent of fossil energy.” Barley expects that the current situation will boost renewable energy.
However, the students were not only interested in politics. So Lea Sunday asked about Katarina Barley’s everyday life. She reported that she “usually spends three committee weeks in Brussels and one plenary week in Strasbourg a month”, which unfortunately means she has some time to organize projects like this in person. Many dates, such as the meetings of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, are fixed and always take place at the same time. Nevertheless, Barley spoke of a “very nice and varied job”.
“Much more colorful and diverse”
But even in the European Parliament, there are problems from time to time. For example, according to the vice-president, there are sometimes difficulties in understanding – despite the many interpreters. In general, Katarina Barley describes the European Parliament as “much more colorful and diverse” than, for example, the German Bundestag – and also as “much freer”, which must be seen positively.
Despite some technical issues in the form of interruptions during the video conference, the event was very well received by the students at HHG. It was arranged by teacher student Maike Koböck, and the other social studies teacher and principal Kerstin Kiehm was also present.