Debating about Europe: The public debate and final of the 2nd European Debates Conference in Cologne

Datum: Nov 12th, 2014
By
Category: international, Turniere, VDCH

As a prominent part of the thematic focus on Europe, the VDCH – Association of German Speaking University Debating Societies – and two member clubs organized two “European Debates Conferences”. They aim to bring the participants of the other projects and many other debating societies together to jointly debate about controversial political, economic and societal issues. The participants are not only improving their knowledge about Europe and their rhetorical and argumentative skills. They also get to know students from up to 11 other countries and learn about the differences and similarities in their points of view on common challenges.

Jan Dirk Capelle

Jan Dirk Capelle, speaker in the final of the 2nd European Debates Conference. © Tilbury House

Last weekend, the 2nd European Debates Conference took place in Cologne. The first conference was held in April 2014 in Berlin; both were generously supported by the foundation Stiftung Mercator. The conference consisted of a public debate on Friday, a student tournament on various European issues and a public finale of the best student speakers on Sunday. The motion of the public debate was “Is the European Youth Guarantee with subsidized jobs and trainings the right way to fight youth unemployment?”

The structure of the debate with two speakers for each the pro and the contra position was as follows: In the beginning, each speaker had the opportunity for an opening statement of five minutes, alternating between the sides. After that, the audience voted secretly whether they agree or disagree with the motion, or are still undecided.

The next part was a question-and-answer-session in which people from the audience could address single speakers within one minute. That speaker could then respond in two minutes. The end was marked by closing statements from every speaker and a second votum, now open and without the option of being undecided.

The speakers in favor of the motion were Rebecca Irvine (Berlin) and Senna Maatoug (Leiden). Yael Bezalel (Tel Aviv) and Dan Lahav (Tel Aviv) argued against it.
After the debate the audience, which filled the room well, decided in favor of the affirmative side. There were four more people voteing for the European Youth Guarantee than there were undecided ones or opponents.

The public final was held on Sunday. The best eight participants debated the motion „This House would ban anti-EU parties from participating in the EU elections.“ In the end, Dan Lahav (Tel Aviv) and Yair Har-Oz (Haifa) convinced the judges and won the Tilbury House IV – the 2nd European Debates Conference. They beat Osnabrück A (Stefan Torges, Jan Dirk Capelle), Maastricht Guess The Novice (Srdjan Miletic, Evelyn Svingen) and BDU Die schweigenden Lämmer (Rebecca Irvine, Philippe Holzhey). The public final attracted students as well as citizens of Cologne.

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