The European Greens have used the summer break to gather input for their political campaign in the run-up to the European Parliament elections next year, with participants heading to their university event from all corners of Europe.
Alongside energy and climate change, the future of Europe after the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty was a central issue for which the Greens were seeking new ideas from their constituents via a series of workshops and panel discussions.
Symbolically, the meeting took place in the German-Polish border cities of Frankfurt (Oder) and S³ubice from 28-31 August and gathered more than 800 participants from 42 countries, according to the organisers.
"This summer university is about bridging gaps that exist between East and West, North and South, political decision-makers and citizens – and about rethinking our common future in Europe," said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the co-president of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament.
"The next European elections are a wonderful opportunity to draw political lines and take a positive political stance," Cohn-Bendit said. "When it comes to key issues like the energy crisis and climate change, it is already the 11th hour. We need to reflect that sense of urgency in our European election campaign."
The Green leader, who achieved iconic status in France after spearheading the May '68 student uprising in Paris, hailed his party's unique approach to the European election campaign. "When the Greens talk about Europe, we make it clear that we support it and want to strengthen it. That sets us apart from other political parties."
"The Greens were the first to run a single Europe-wide campaign for the European elections and again we will show that we are a true European party that can look beyond national electorates," Cohn-Bendit said.
Meanwhile, the traditional French political summer universities tended to focus more heavily on Europe than usual due to the current French Presidency of the EU (see EurActiv France).
Cohn-Bendit, who currently sits as a Green MEP for Germany, was asked to lead the French campaign for 'Les Verts' in 2009. But he said he would only accept the offer if the list was broadened to include other environmental organisations, civil society representatives and NGOs.
A decision is expected when the French national council of the Greens meets on 13-14 September.