On 11 April, Team Europe member Guy Verhofstadt, lead candidate for ALDE member party Open Vld, debated with students of the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. In his opening statement, Verhofstadt said the “European Union does not exist”. He referred to the fact that since the Treaty of Rome in 1957 member states continue to work together in most cases on the basis of unanimity, not qualified majority. The Open Vld candidate said: “therefore we are not ready to act efficiently in the modern world in which we live. We must renew Europe.”
Outlining where the European Union should renew, Guy Verhofstadt said: “I will give two examples. First of all we should do better on our collective security. In Europe, today, we spend 42% of what Americans spend on military, but we can only do 10 to 15% of their operations. It’s a huge example of where Europe can have an added value.” Secondly, Verhofstadt said that Europe must do better on the Internet and in the digital economy: “We create lots of digital content in Europe, but we have no platforms to share that content. We do not have one internet model for Europe, as we continue to have 28 different regulators.”
After his introduction, the students of the College of Europe discussed a range of topics with Guy Verhofstadt including asylum and migration policy, a social Europe, climate change, gender equality and participation of young people in the European elections.
At the closing of the event, the College of Europe students sang "Happy Birthday" for Guy Verhofstadt, who celebrated his birthday that same day.
The event was organised by the College of Europe and the "89 Initiative".