European Democrat Students
|Headquarters||Rue du Commerce 10, B-1000, Brussels, Belgium|
|European People's Party (also European Democrat Union)|
|Affiliations||International Young Democrat Union|
European Democrat Students (EDS) is a pan-European centre-right student and youth political association, and the official student organisation of the European People's Party. Founded in Vienna by Scandinavian, German and Austrian students in 1961, it represents over 1.600.000 students and young people in 36 member organisations from 31 countries in Europe, and is the largest youth organisation in Europe.
Its stated goal is to promote a free, democratic and united Europe through a greater student mobility and comprehensive education policies across the continent. European Democrat Students has been always a frontrunner in integration, fighting for open borders, united Europe and European debate in European politics. The three pillars of EDS originally stood for conservatism, liberalism and christian democracy. Today, EDS grew into a large family which has an outlook that is various, rich and unique, represented by the name 'Democrat': Here, student organisations, political youth organisations and other centre-right organisations come together to shape modern centre-right policies for Europe.
In 1958, a group of Swedish students, members of the Conservative Student League of Sweden, travelled to Vienna, Prague and West Berlin, where they attended the annual meeting of the Association of Christian Democratic Students. A cooperation between the Swedish and West German students was initiated, that was soon extended to include student organisations from the rest of Scandinavia and the United Kingdom.
In response to increasing activities of communist organisations, the liberal-conservative and christian democratic student organisations from these countries saw a need for stronger international cooperation among democratic student organisations in Europe. When the communist International Union of Students organised the "7th World Youth Festival" in Vienna in 1959, christian democratic and liberal-conservative students established the organisation Arbeitsgemeinschaft Neues Leben (Action Committee New Life), the first international organisation of centre-right students in Europe. The new organisation distributed pins with the text "Remember Hungary 1956!"
The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Neues Leben quickly evolved into the International Student Conferences, that took place in Copenhagen and Stockholm for the first time in 1960. At the third conference, in Vienna in 1961, the International of Christian-Democrat and Conservative Students, the predecessor of the European Democrat Students, was founded. The organisation considered itself to be the "first avantgarde fighter for the protection of the principles of liberty and individualism," and supported European integration and programmes for student mobility. The founding member organisations were the Freie Österreichische Studentenschaft (Austria), the Conservative Students (Denmark), the Association of Christian Democratic Students (West Germany), the Students' League of the Conservative Party (Norway), and the Confederation of Swedish Conservative and Liberal Students (FMSF). A few months later, the Federation of University Conservative and Unionist Associations (UK) and ESC (Belgium) joined.
The current name of the organisation, European Democrat Students, was adopted in 1975, after it was proposed by Carl Bildt.
Since 1997, EDS has been the official student organisation of the European People's Party (EPP). Full members status is held to the European Youth Forum (YFJ), the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) and the Robert Schuman Institute. EDS is also recognised as a member association of the European Peoples Party (EPP), where EDS is one of the six EPP associations - in addition to recognition as an NGO at the Council of Europe.
Organising seminars, summer and winter universities, publications, campaigns and political resolutions, EDS connects like-minded students from all over the continent and shapes European student policies as well as the debates within the EPP. In 2011, the celebrations of the 50th anniversary have been conducted in Brussels and Vienna, attracting several hundreds of members, alumni, politicians and partners.
EDS has four categories of membership: Full members, observers, and additionally affiliate and associate members.
The full members are (founding members in bold)
- Austria: AktionsGemeinschaft
- Belarus: Young Front
- Belgium: Etudiants Démocrates Humanistes
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Youth Association of the Party of Democratic Action
- Bulgaria: Federation of Independent Student Societies
- Bulgaria: Млади Граждани за Европейско Развитие на България (МГЕРБ)
- Croatia: University Organisation of the Croatian Peasant Party
- Cyprus: FPK Protoporia
- Denmark: Conservative Students
- Estonia: Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica Youth
- Finland: Student Union of National Coalition Party Tuhatkunta
- France: Union Nationale Inter-universitaire
- Georgia: Young Student Organization Graali
- Georgia: UYNM
- Germany: Association of Christian Democratic Students
- Greece: Dimokratiki Ananeotiki Protoporia – Nea Dimokratiki Foititiki Kinissi
- Hungary: Fidesz Youth
- Italy: StudiCentro
- Lithuania: Young Conservative League
- Macedonia: Youth Forces Union of VMRO-DPMNE
- Malta: Studenti Demokristjani Maltin
- Moldova: Youth of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova
- Norway: Students' League of the Conservative Party
- Romania: Youth Organisation of the Democratic Liberal Party
- Slovakia: Občiansko Demokratická Mládež
- Slovenia: Slovenian Academic Union
- Sweden: Confederation of Swedish Conservative and Liberal Students
- Ukraine: Ukrainian Students Association
- UK: Young Conservative Europe Group
The Observer Members are:
- Belgium: Christen-Democratische Studenten
- Lebanon: Lebanese Forces Students Association
- Italy: Nuovo CentroDestra
- Poland: Stowarzyszenie "Mlodzi Demokraci"
- Romania:Liberal Student Clubs
- Russia: Youth Democratic Choice
The Associated Member is:
In a 2009 resolution, the organisation expressed its support for the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, calling for the condemnation of communism, and adopted the declaration's content as part of its general policy. "Communism as a totalitarian regime [...] can only distinct itself from Fascism and Nazism by a more recent expiry date and the consequent damage over time it was able to cause," the resolution said.
- Holger Thuss and Bence Bauer, Students on the Right Way. European Democrat Students 1961-2011, Brussels 2012, ISBN 978-9090266671
- "Motion on Prague declaration on European conscience and communism. Adopted at the CM in Paris, 25/04/2009". European Democrat Students. 25 April 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-12-31. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
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