Czech video-blogger Karel Kovář was one of three young Europeans selected to hold a live interview with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday.
The event, broadcast by Euronews on Thursday, was billed as a way for EU citizens to ask questions of the President of the European Commission as a follow up to his delivering the annual State of the European Union address. Three young YouTubers were selected – a German woman named Diana zur Löwen, a Belgian man named Abdel en Vrai, and the Czech Karel Kovář – to pose questions to Juncker.
Karel Kovář, alias “Kovy” has been an avid video blogger for three years, posting mostly musings on modern-day life – such as how to use Instagram, Twitter, and even taking the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness of motor neurone disease, or ALS.
His questions to Juncker, spanned everything from the controversial regular shifting of MEPs between Brussels and Strasbourg, climate change, migration, and relations with Turkey. Kovář also turned to a more general question of perceptions of the EU:
“I think not only young people not only struggle to make a point about finding something positive about being a member of the EU. I hear about peace, I hear about trade, the Schengen Area, and the end of roaming charges – but I hear far more criticism, about various regulations, and that the EU is not really flexible and fast when it comes to hard decisions or hard issues. So why do you think that young people see mostly problems rather than any positive things?”
“I think that is quite normal. It is quite easy to describe disadvantages. Advantages have to be proved. I would like to invite those who are sceptical – and we have to accept and admit that we must deal with the arguments of those who are reluctant when it comes to EU integration – we have to ask people if they would prefer to live on a continent that is divided, where countries will be hermetically separated, where the freedom of movement would not exist, or if they would prefer to live in the European Union...”
Kovář also asked Juncker about what he believed was the greatest challenge facing the European Union. The Commission president replied that the answer was maintaining peace, and that it was important to remember that Europe had in the past been ravaged by wars. In response to a separate question from Kovář, Jucker also denied that the EU was sending money carte blanche to the Turkish government, in an effort to stem the flow of migrants. Rather, he said, such funds were going to NGOs and other organisations assisting refugees.