The deadline for applications for the European Boards’ Meeting (EBM) comes closer – you can only apply until 14th of December. The concept of the EBM will be totally new, since it was reformed at the autumn Agora 2011. The two main authors of the reform, former CD member Thomas Leszke and former Agora vice chair Katja Behrendt, told the Golden Oldie what will change.


Golden Oldie: What are the main differences between old EBM and new EBM?

Thomas and Katja: The old EBM used to finalise the Action Agenda, the year plan of AEGEE-Europe, which was a static ritual without any creative input required from the participants. In the past years this was always criticised as purposeless. With the reform, the new EBM will be the place where this Action Agenda is drafted, and all participants can contribute with their own ideas and plans. Apart from that, the new EBM will be more like a conference, where external speakers, politicians, activists and professors come as guests to discuss with AEGEE people the most important challenges in Europe today. This will be a great inspiration for us, and also a great help for drafting the Action Agenda!

AEGEE events in Izmir are famous for their hospitality.

Golden Oldie: So the EBM will draft the Action Agenda from the very beginning – how will that be reflected in structure and programme of the event? Won’t there any preparations before the EBM at all?

Thomas and Katja: Especially the last two days of the EBM will focus on making plans for the next year of our work in AEGEE-Europe, and all these plans together are forming the Action Agenda. We will have many sessions discussing how we can achieve the aims of our Focus Areas, first setting our objectives for the next year, and then developing concrete activities together with all locals. Already before the EBM all bodies will be asked to think about their capacity to contribute to the Action Agendy, so that the participants will have this information when they attend the EBM. For more information, check the Strategic Plan:

Golden Oldie: How can the ambitious aim of drafting the Action Agenda be achieved in just three days?

Thomas and Katja: If you have 250 people in one place, you have never enough time to discuss. It is all about time management, about setting priorities, and of course about discipline and commitment from the side of the participants. While we tend to be lazy sometimes at our statutory events, this EBM will be an exercise of the famous slogan “Work hard during the day, party harder during the night – but don’t sleep in the morning”! We have drafted a methodology that will help us in this – and we will select experienced and capable facilitators for the sessions as well as motivated participants.

EBM organisers

Golden Oldie: You said the EBM is also becoming a thematic conference with interesting speakers. How many do you want to invite? Do you already have some example names? And how will you deal with travel expenses for the speakers?

Thomas and Katja: At this moment it is too early to disclose any names, even though we have already contacted some of them. We are trying to find good speakers from the region, so that they don’t have to travel so far, but if we find someone excellent who could only come if we reimbursed the travel costs, this would probably be provided. On the other hand, especially representatives of the European institutions already have a budget for such purposes, so they may not need any such services from our side.

Golden Oldie: Could Les Anciens members be such guest speakers?

Thomas and Katja: Most definitely! But it depends of course on what you want to present or discuss. As you know, the EBM is reserved for external topics. We will not be talking about AEGEE’s organisational problems at any time.


Thomas Leszke

Golden Oldie: Will there be a thematic focus for the EBM set by the CD? 

Thomas and Katja: The thematic focus is of course already set: it is the Focus Areas from the Strategic Plan. Apart from that, the CD can choose a few more topics that seem worth discussing. The Projects Director has already made an open call to the network in order to collect ideas for these additional topics.

Golden Oldie: Who chooses the final topics among all the proposed ones?

Thomas and Katja: In the CIA it is now written that the CD is responsible for the content. In practice, this task is delegated to a person called the Content Coordinator who is cooperating with the Projects Director. Together they will choose the topics.

Golden Oldie: What about making an online voting about the final topics?

Thomas and Katja: No. The poll already indicates which topics are of greatest interest. And then it also depends on the speakers that are available. So this decision is taken by the CD. But of course the network is more than welcome to argue in favour or against certain topics in advance, and the CD appreciates any advice in this matter!

Golden Oldie: Topics regarding the organisational development of AEGEE-Europe are excluded. Do you think the Agora is sufficient to deal with them?

Thomas and Katja: AEGEE is a volunteering organisation and we are facing time constraints in all aspects of our work. There will always be a demand for more time to discuss organisational matters. But we must be wary not to forget about the reason why AEGEE was founded in 1985: to make a contribution to our European society! Again, we must set our priorities, and for this reason, the EBM shall be exclusively reserved to European topics. Otherwise we are in danger of just staying in our bubble and becoming a kind of sect…


Katja Behrendt

Golden Oldie: So there won’t be budget or activity report discussion at the EBM anymore. Do you think the Agora is sufficient to discuss organisational parts?

Thomas and Katja: Of course the Agora is sufficient. Or rather, it simply must be sufficient! In other organisations, there is just one general assembly per year. How do they manage? There are other ways to discuss organisational problems. The Agora is just the place where we take our decisions in a democratic way.

Golden Oldie: At the Agora it was said that only 200 people can take part. Why that restriction?

Thomas and Katja: The number of 200 participants is incorrect. Together with AEGEE-Izmir, the CD has decided to admit 250 participants to the EBM 2012. The reason for this comparably low number – previous EBMs used to have between 300 and 400 participants – is that we have a new concept and we don´t know yet if it’s feasible to do it with so many people – so we start with 250. It is important that this new format is successful. So the decision to slightly reduce the number of participants was made out of caution. Possibly, the EBM 2013 will already be able to accommodate 300 participants again without any problems, because this year we will gain a lot of valuable experience.

Golden Oldie: Isn’t there a conflict, considering that AEGEE has about 200 bodies and all of them should take part, because it is a statutory event? It could mean that a lot of interested people cannot come, because only one or two per local can come. How can that guarantee the best discussions?

Thomas and Katja: That is a fair point of course. But maybe you could also ask the European Union why they have strict contingents for every member state in the European Parliament – shouldn’t we as citizens of the European Union also have the right to elect the best politicians regardless of their nationality? To answer the question, this rule was necessary simply because there is the Antenna criterion that every local needs to attend a certain amount of statutory events. We decided to keep this antenna criterion applicable to the EBM to point out the importance of this meeting, since the EBM will decide what AEGEE will work on in the next year and also to underline the importance of thematic discussion in AEGEE. We could of course have changed that rule, but that would have made the proposal even more complex, and might have led to its disapproval. Still, in case we come to the conclusion that this rule poses indeed an obstacle to the success of the EBM, we can always consider to change this particular aspect.

You can apply for the EBM here (also Les Anciens members!):

EBM Izmir on Facebook:

Join the EBM Izmir group on Facebook:

Also check out this Golden Oldie article about the EBM changes: