Final result of the EBM voting on 6 December 2011.

European Planning Meeting? Key of Europe? EGEE Conference? AEGEE discussed a lot about a new name for the European Boards’ Meeting (EBM), which suits the statutory meeting in the best way. Why? Because the EBM is never going to be the same again, after its structure and content was radically changed by decision of the autumn Agora 2011 in Struga.

The EBM is changing from a small sort-of Agora without decision power to a thematic conference. No more discussing the activity and financial report of the CD, the next EBM in Izmir in February 2012 will see lots of workshops and other discussions, where the delegates prepare the Action Agenda of AEGEE-Europe, which is the year plan of the association for the upcoming year.

In a poll about a possible new name for the EBM, which reflects its new aim, 217 voted were cast in total. Only 31 voters (that is 14 percent) would like to keep the name EBM, while the overwhelming majority would welcome a new name. For a long time the front runner was the name European Planning Meeting, but the 57 votes were only good enough for the second place in the end- “Izmir+20” won with 68 votes (31 percent). This name is inspired by the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Other contesters are “Key of Europe” or “EGEE conference”, but these ideas have already a lot less support. You can see the poll here: You can also participate in the discussion in the AEGEE-Europe forum about the EBM structure:

Spring Presidents Meeting 1999 in Novi Sad

This newly adopted structure of the EBM is however not the first change of this statutory meeting. Already in 1986 the EBM oldest ancestor, the very first Presidents Meeting (PM) took place in Brussels. Just a few months after AEGEE was founded, a group of AEGEEans gathered to solve practical problems of the growing association. While the Agora was attended by the chosen delegates of the antennae, the smaller PM was visited by the most experienced members, mainly its presidents. That’s how the event got its name. The main task of the EBM became soon to prepare both Agoras, that’s why there was a spring PM and an autumn PM.

The Blond Award Ceremony at PM Novi Sad 1999

With time, the biggest PMs became not much smaller than the Agoras themselves, the spring PM in Eindhoven in March 1996 had more than 350 participants. For the CDs, the PM was sort of a benchmark for its work, because the delegates voted upon the presented financial and activity report. However, the PM did not have decision power, except for electing two of the four Members Commissioners. So in the end it was much more relaxed than an Agora and the sentence was born: “Agoras are for making decisions, Presidents Meetings are for making friends.”

The fact, that the agenda of the PM was reflecting the Agora agenda, led actually to a lot of criticism. It often happened that a workshop about the year plan of AEGEE-Europe was suggesting several projects, but one month later the Agora had the same workshop which resulted in a totally different set of year plan projects. The most fruitful part of the PM were the meetings of project teams and workshops, who had much more time than at Agoras to meet.

The last real Presidents Meeting - Szeged 2000

Therefore, the autumn Agora in Udine in 2000 changed the PM concept. Starting from spring 2001 in Katowice, the Presidents Meeting was renamed in Planning Meeting. It just kept its abbreviation PM, but didn’t have anything else in common anymore. The spring PM was now called “Think Europe Planning Meeting”, where the year plan for the next year was initiated, while the autumn PM, the “Action Europe Planning Meeting” was checking the progress and fine-tuning the year plan. The new PM was a place for discussion, with 3.5 and 7 hour long workshops and no administrative burden.

Does this sound familiar to you? Well, except for the length of the workshops, the Planning Meeting and the newly reformed EBM had a lot in common. Mastermind of this the reform 11 years ago was AEGEE-Europe’s honorary member Philipp von Klitzing from AEGEE-Aachen. And also the new reform in 2011 was masterminded by two AEGEE-Aachen members: Katja Behrendt and Patrick Kabasci, accompanied by former CD member Thomas Leszke (AEGEE-Köln).

The CD at the EBM 2006 in Sofia

We missed a step: the change from Planning Meeting to European Boards’ Meeting. A few years after the PM reform the interest of the network in the Planning Meetings became smaller. While the old Presidents’ Meeting was a buzzing place of the most active people in AEGEE, the numbers of participants in the Planning Meetings dropped and the events lacked the old spirit. It’s hard to speculate why, some people thought it was because the Planning Meeting was not interesting enough, since its advice was not carried out by the Agora either. Moreover, many people wanted to have the discussions about the CD’s activity and financial report back.

So the concept was changed again and the new event was something in the middle between Presidents Meeting and Planning Meeting. This happened again at an Agora in Italy, the autumn Agora 2004 in Torino. Since the newly reformed event was closer to the old Presidents Meeting, a name was chosen that reflected its structure of participants: European Boards’ Meeting. The first EBM took place in March 2005 in Valletta, bearing the promising title: “EBM 2005 …the beginning”. This EBM was the only one in 2005, because the autumn EBM was dropped, since it wasn’t seen as necessary by the reform’s two masterminds: Koen Berden and Peter Daemen. Some little trivia: the EBM proposal was copying a part of the old Presidents Meeting regulations, so for years the EBM was referring to the CD’s moral report, which was already renamed to activity report years before.

Polish Power at the EBM Sofia 2006

After seven years, the autumn Agora 2011 in Struga witnessed the fourth attempt to finally create a working structure for the smaller statutory meeting. Now the EBM has turned into a thematic conference, similar to the Planning Meeting, but with a much more concrete task: to prepare the Action Agenda.

For the time being, AEGEE seems to be happy with the change. 86.6 percent of the delegates at the autumn Agora 2011 voted in favour of the reform. There was however criticism about the fact that the number of participants was supposed to be lowered to 200. Since AEGEE has around 200 bodies and participation in statutory events is an important criterium for staying antenna, there might be a big competition for the places. This on the other hand might be good for the quality of the event – at the time of the Planning Meeting the criteria were not yet that strict.

The EBM 2006 in Sofia

In a poll by the Golden Oldie about the EBM reform, 47 percent of people agreed with the statement “It is good to have an annual conference”, 29 percent said “A maximum of 200 participants is not enough for the ambitious goal”, while 18 percent stressed “It is good that the network will have a bigger influence on the Action Agenda”. People could vote only once, so these are strong statements.The future will tell whether this optimism is justified. The new change of scope of the EBM might help to create a finally working structure, but it’s also possible that in four or five years time the wheel will be turning again…




Check out this Golden Oldie article with details about the new concept:

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