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In defense of a miracle – MEP Rebecca Harms pleads at the Opening Week for a united Europe

2017-10-09 Day in, day out, she witnesses very closely the growing skepticism towards the EU: Rebecca Harms is a member of the European Parliament and spoke about her idea and vision of Europe this Monday before 1500 first semester students. For her, the “Europe” theme chosen by Leuphana is a matter of the heart. The EU stands for stability and peace, „the Green MEP stressed”.

MEP Rebecca Harms

As ubiquitous as the topic may be, it is also a complex one: Europe's future is at stake, and visions against the threat of disintegration are required. This is what Marion Reiser, a professor of politics, who introduced Rebecca Harms' speech, explained. The question we are addressing at the Opening Week is: what contribution can we make to a united Europe” said Reiser, who started by asking the students what EU's biggest challenges were: Brexit, populism, migration, the financial crisis – declining confidence, growing rejection. This week, the first semester students will examine step by step how social commitment can counteract the general scepticism on Europe: On Monday, for example, the speech by Prof. Dr. Jörg-Philipp Terhechte, Vice President of Leuphana University of Lüneburg, conveyed fundamental knowledge about the EU and its institutions. In the coming days, students will develop and implement concrete projects with the support of mentors, lecturers and tutors.Green MEP Rebecca Harms made it clear that commitment is worthwhile. “We must preserve what we have achieved with the EU” she said, looking back with the students on Europe’s history.  Harms summarised the beginnings of the EU: “We have to realise what happened after the Second World War: Only five years after Germany had plunged the continent into its worst phase by bringing about the Holocaust and committing other atrocities, former enemies sat together”. Instead of fighting, we talked about learning from past mistakes, overcoming entrenched divisions and working together. This, for me, is a miracle. “Only those who recognise this as a miracle can live with the compromises that the EU has to make time and again and embrace them as reality.

Keynote Rebecca Harms - Leuphana Opening Week 2017 (46:00min)

Jolene and Hannah: “You have to be able to understand the EU”.

At the same time, Harms urged students to dare look at things from another perspective: “Look at your life in Europe from the outside, travel to other countries, this will help you appreciate it”, were the politician’s words of motivation. Words which many first-semester students felt, addressed them: “New perspectives are important, but also is education”, says student Jolene (Cultural Studies). Her vision of Europe echoes that of her fellow student Hannah (Psychology Studies): “I would like to see a Europe, in which every country is not focused on itself – a collaborative Europe”.

Further impressions of the day:


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Author: Urte Modlich, University Marketing. News from the university surrounding the areas of research, teaching and study can be sent to