16th April 1985: 1st day at the EGEE1 congress: a week during which more than 300 European students met female and male politicians at seminars and receptions, partied in Paris and without knowing it became the founders of one of the biggest European student movements today. It was one week that, even though the organisers didn’t know it at the time, would mark the start of a great European adventure with Franck Biancheri at the head of the movement. From that moment onwards, the student world became a real actor in European construction, and, secondly, the movement dramatically changed the lives of thousands of European students. At that time the network AEGEE-Europe was launched. Among other things, it brought the necessary support that the Erasmus program needed. Before them the Erasmus program was destined to collect dust on burocrats and technocrats´ shelves.
April 2010, Marianne Ranke-Cormier made a series of interviews of some of the main actors involved in the organisation of EGEE1 and so to revist this very first fantastic week and to reconnect with them. We republish these interviews during this week of 35th anniversary. One of these interviews was with Philippe Micaelli (Mica).
In 1985 when he was studying econometrics at the Sorbonne in Paris he was also a member of the very first team of creator-founders of the EGEE 1 project. In addition to being the director of several companies he is also involved in civil society at a European level, notably with IDE, Prometheus-Europe, Newropeans2009 for which he was one of the top-candidates in France in the last European elections.
For him EGEE1 was: “a mix of memorable parties and a time when the base work was carried out to create AEGEE based on new principles“.
¤ MRC: What were you studying in April 1985?
Philippe Micaelli (PM): Econometrics at the University Paris 1 – Panthéon – Sorbonne.
¤ What was your role in the organisation of EGEE 1?
(PM): I mostly dealt with logistics, finances, and negotiations with our partners.
¤ Why did you want to get involved in planning the event?
(PM): To be able to participate in the organisation of the first European student demonstration that brought together students from all four corners of Europe.
¤ Tell me about the 16th April, were you excited about the launch of EGEE 1?
(PM): The belief that we had made young people of the European idea and the immense joy to have achieved what seemed unachievable.
¤ What happened that week?
(PM): It was a mix of memorable parties and a time when the base work was carried out to create AEGEE based on new principles that still exist 25 years on (an example of the principles is that we worked at a European level, not a national one.)
¤ What was the most important achievement of the event in your opinion?
(PM): To prove that it is possible to promote new political ideas (in the citizens´meaning of the term) by breaking existing moulds.
¤ What´s your best memory?
(PM): The day all the students arrived at the Sorbonne.
¤ And the worst memory?
(PM): The end of the demonstation.
¤ How did the congress motivate you to create the AEGEE network?
(PM): We proved that it was possible for young people to work together and take control and create a common European destiny.
¤ Can you tell me how what this congress meant for you before and after it took place?
(PM): Before: a very important collective mobilisation to stage a fun demonstration at a European level that no other group had ever tried to carry out.
After: the creation of the first European student network at a supranational level. The capacity to be an example of a working network that had real, concrete proposals.
¤ Had you anticipated the political influence the event would go on to have?
(PM): Yes. That´s why all of us, the founding members, resigned from the directive Comittee when we graduated.
¤ What about the influence on European students´future?
(PM): The more study abroad exchanges there are at a European level and students studying in different universities, the better prepared future generations will be.
¤ What about Europe´s future?
(PM): Europe is a recent and fragile entity. We need to draw on our historical knowledge to anticipate the need to establish sustainable and future-oriented policies.
¤ Based on your experiences what recommendations would you give to young people in Europe today?
(PM): To not heed to sirens´ songs calling for compromise. Act outside the box. Be able to reconsider and question one’s actions. Always use your common sense. Think as a collective.
¤ 25 years later, what do you do for a living?
(PM): After 10 years working as a trader at the stock market I set up several companies in varied sectors: financial intermediation (company listed on the Paris stock market), methodological consulting (Finamer Consulting), IT security management (Item Centric / Olmek). I have always had a will to innovate, to fight against, to always use my common sense and to never disregard the basics. Outside work, I have always been involved in civil society at a European level notably with Newropeans for which I was one of the head candidates in France in the last European elections.
Note: Philippe Micaelli is currently Director of Business Development & Partnership at Qwant
Editor in chief