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Opening Week launch ceremony: "If nothing happens, Europe will break apart".

10/06/2017 At the launch of the Opening Week, a feature of Leuphana College that is unique in Germany, Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag, spoke before around 1500 first-semester students in St John’s Church. This year’s theme was “Europe”. He pleaded for unity and urged the audience to commit to freedom.

Leuphana's unique study model provides that all first-year students start together and concentrate intensively on a socially relevant topic. The President of the German Bundestag, Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert, delivered an important impetus for the debate on “Europe”, this year's theme. In Lammert’s words, the White Paper on the future of Europe, published by the EU in March 2017, supplies a good basis for this, as it proves that it allows for “more than one future scenario”. He therefore called on the first semesters to shape Europe and commit to it: “Nothing will happen by itself. Just as the European process to date is the result of intentions and their realisation”, said the President of the Bundestag. 

Norbert Lammert has been a member of the Bundestag since 1980 and has thus been able to actively observe almost 40 years of European development from a political perspective. “If we summarise the history of Europe, the continent has never been in a better condition”, said Lammert, but he also stated: “Never before has Europe known less what to make out of it”, stressing that it was time to act quickly: “If nothing happens, Europe will disintegrate”.

In this context, Lammert explained that globalisation is increasingly depriving the nation states of their self-perception as sovereign states: “These times are over and will never return”. Technologisation and digitisation rendered globalisation possible, yet irreversible. “We are living in a world that is bigger than it has ever been”, the President of the Bundestag explained.

In addition to the clear commitment to European integration, Lammert also explained to the students what asymmetries he believes have caused the EU’s current less-than-ideal situation: economic dominance over politics; priority given to enlargement over deepening of the Community; and the long-time dominance of the executive over the legislative. “You are called upon to build Europe”, added Lord Mayor Ulrich Mädge. This is not just about the spatial dimension. “Europe is not a place – it's an idea”, said President Sascha Spoun. During the Opening Week, first semester students will have ongoing expert exchanges on the subject of “Europe” with political and cultural personalities. Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering (former President of the European Parliament), Rebecca Harms (MEP) and Gregor Gysi (Member of the Bundestag) will be available as discussion partners during the opening week. On 13 October, the students will hand over their ideas for Europe to Prime Minister Stephan Weil in the Libeskind Auditorium as part of the final round.

Further Impressions of the day:

Dr. Norbert Lammert at the Opening Ceremony of the Leuphana Opening Week 2017 (37:51min)


Opening Week Team 
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Author: Marietta Hülsmann, University Marketing. News from the university surrounding the areas of research, teaching and study can be sent to