This year full of political happenings is also reflected in the programme of the Europe Forum Turku which is organized for the second time. Two elections and Finland’s EU presidency starting in July 2019 raise the demand for further discussion of the future of Europe. Now, if ever, there is a need for an open public discussion based on concise information between the citizens and the decisionmakers.

The programme was published at the University of Turku in the Mauno Koivisto Auditorium. The event was inaugurated by Doctor of Political Science Anders Blom as the Europe Forum Turku Chair, and the Mayor of the City of Turku, Minna Arve. Arve emphasized the importance of the forum especially as an arena for civic dialogue. ‘How do we get the young people interested in European matters and to discuss about Europe?’ asks Arve from the public.

The main theme of the programme in 2019 is economy. The other themes include for example the European labour recruitment, decision making in the European Union, climate policy, the position of the municipalities in the EU, and the future of the European Union. Furthermore, we also see over the borders of our continent when we treat the China and Africa in the programme.

Brexit and the federalization of the European Union were the subjects in the panel discussions stimulating most debate

There was a panel discussion in the programme between the three universities in Turku. The panel was moderated by Doctor of Political Science, Anders Blom. The panel discussion was held by Vice Rector of the University of Turku Riitta Pyykkö, Professor of Public Administration of the Åbo Akademi University, Marko Joas, and Dr. Sc, Executive Lecturer Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen of the Turku University of Applied Sciences. Especially the effects of Brexit from the point of view of the universities were stimulating debate in the panel discussion. The most dramatic vision would actualize if all the networks and structures that have been built between the universities would disappear.

The event culminated with the political panel between the candidates of the European Elections: Sari Essayah (Christian Democrats), Laura Huhtasaari (Finns Party), Silvia Modig (Left Alliance), Ville Niinistö (Greens), Mauri Pekkarinen (Centre Party), Aura Salla (National Coalition), Ida Schauman (Swedish People's Party), and Pekka Shemeikka (Social Democrats).

Jukka Kola, the future Rector of the University of Turku and candidates of the European election participating in the panel. Photo: Iida Laurila

Already at the outset, the moderator of the panel, the Professor of the Contemporary History at the University of Turku, Markku Jokisipilä, asked the European election candidates to praise each other and the European politics of their parties. The debate was vivid on the eve of the European elections but still, the discussions were held in a good atmosphere. The debate focused on the process of the federalist integration of the European Union, and its lack of development, immigration and the fight against climate change. Towards the end of the panel, the future head of the University of Turku, Jukka Kola made a commentary emphasizing the hearing of young people.

There is almost twice more programme in The Europe Forum Turku 2019 compared to the last year. The event is still growing, and the programme is constantly updated until August. The objective of the organizers is to make every Turku resident fully aware of the fact that it is happening something special in the city during the last weekend of August 2019.

The programme of the event can also be found in the mobile application, by name Turun Eurooppa-foorumi (in Finnish). The mobile application of the year 2018 cannot be used any more.