As the two-week program draws to a close, many of us find ourselves amazed at the sheer amount that we have learnt in such a short period. Wednesday provided us with yet another fascinating lecture about the Danube, this time about its relationship with the European Union.
Filipa Figueira’s talk was a clear, informative and unbiased introduction into the role that the European Union in general and more specifically, along the Danube. Much of what we learn about the EU in the press is exaggerated and scaremongering, therefore it was refreshing to hear about it from a well-informed perspective, underlining, not only the negative aspects but also the importance of the Union and its vital role in European relations. By showing us a pie-chart of the break down of spending by the European Union, Figueira demonstrated that while much of the money does, indeed go into agriculture, it is also utilized in other areas which have more universal effects.
Thus, the idea that all of EU spending goes into helping ‘French cows, was proved to be a myth and it was evident that, despite the growing anti-Europe feeling in the United Kingdom, the organisation is, in fact, of some importance. This gave rise to the question of whether the impending referendum is really a good idea. Figueira suggested that while a vote concerning other matters regarding the European Union may be okay, for example about a specific policy, to put something of such great importance into the hands of people who are, by and large, not qualified to influence such a decision, is dangerous.
We were then told about the EU’s activity in the Danube region. The EUSDR works by promoting good relations and cooperation in return for funding. As the strategy only started in 2010, it is still early days, however it is hoped that it will bring about positive change in the region.
In our tutorial groups, we continued to discuss the European Union and its role in Romanian. As we no longer had language sessions, we also had time to ask our navigator some of the questions we had about Romanian culture. This gave us the opportunity to delve further into the world of Romanian literature, film and architecture.
We were also able to hear a little bit about what everyone in our group had been working on over the last 10 days. It is already clear that everyone has benefitted from the program and that we will be able the skills we have developed long into the future.