European students and leaders convene at Yale to examine EU horizons

European undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in U.S. universities will convene at Yale University on Feb. 13 and 14 to discuss the future of the European Union (EU) and their personal contributions to a more successful EU, and to form an ongoing student think-tank in the United States on EU policies and affairs.

Organized by European students at Yale, the European Student Conference at Yale will bring together 80 students who were selected from a pool of more than ­­­350 hundred applicants. The participants include students from ­­­25 European and other nations who attend 45 universities across the United States.

The conferees will engage with EU policymakers, Yale professors, and distinguished keynote speakers, and focus on five key policy areas: borders, democracy, economy, transatlantic relations, and identity. The event comes amidst the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, described by the conference organizers as “the Super Bowl of Transatlantica.” The conference at Yale, they note, offers a rare opportunity to bring students together with long-time European leaders and give young people a special voice in contemporary debate.

"I look forward to opening the European Student Conference at Yale University," said European Union ambassador to the United States, David O'Sullivan. "This brings together some of the best and brightest students from across the U.S. to discuss the future of the European Union and transatlantic relations. This conference could not come at a better time as we find ourselves at a point in EU-U.S. relations with an unprecedented level of cooperation and a number of common challenges."

“It is our generation that has the highest stakes in the game,” said Igor Mitschka ‘15 and Nils Metter ‘18, two Yale student organizers, in a commentary written in dialogue with Wolfgang Petritsch, former United Nations high commissioner for Bosnia and Herzegovina and a conference adviser. “Let's get excited for young people taking the floor in questions that will affect them the most,” Mitschka, Metter, and Petritsch urge in their commentary, which can be read in full here.

Conference speakers include Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, chief EU negotiator for TTIP; David O’Sullivan, ambassador of the European Union to the United States; Pascal Lamy, former director-general of the World Trade Organization; and, Lapo Pistelli, deputy minister of foreign affairs of Italy. Yale faculty advisers for the conference include David Bach, Seyla Benhabib, David Cameron, Jolyon Howorth, Christine Landfied, and Adam Tooze. A full list of advisers and speakers can be found at the conference website.

Among the 20 policy ideas that will be discussed at the conference in detail are:

  • Introducing new ideas for transatlantic trade and exchange in the TTIP
  • Developing EU-wide school curricula to foster an EU identity and entrepreneurial spirit among young people
  • Granting the commission a stronger guarding position over member states'  constitutional amendments in order to respond to anti-democratic behavior of member states
  • Strengthening of partnerships with Mediterranean countries to tackle immigration
  • Reforming the European Citizen Initiative with input taken from the Swiss role model and introducing a comprehensive media strategy for the initiative, including a new App.

The think-tank “European Horizons” will take up the novel policy recommendations emerging from the conference and ensure further elaboration and dissemination among students, scholars, and policymakers. The president of the ESC, Igor Mitschka, emphasized the significance of this new project, “European students in the USA feel more European than anywhere else, and yet we rarely transform this feeling into palpable political commitment for the EU. Our project is the first step toward making students in America devote time, ingenuity, and action toward the development of the EU.”


Media note: Members of the press who wish to cover conference sessions should register in advance with conference organizers through Nils Metter at or Marco Pau at