Why is elite football centered in Europe
Europe's elite is growing up here
The flags of all EU countries flutter happily in the wind under the steel-blue sky of southern Spain. Salty air blows over from Alicante's dream beach, which is close by. Groups of students enter an elongated building of modern architecture, chatting happily. You have long got used to the high steel fence and the many surveillance cameras. It is not the only feature that distinguishes a European School from ordinary educational institutions. A uniformed security guard sits in a container at the massive barred entrance. He knows the students and the 120 or so teachers who work here on Avenida Locutor Vicente Hipólito. But if you want to enter the halls of European education in Alicante as a guest, you have to identify yourself and need an advocate from the school. Equipped with a visitor ID, the gate opens for the reporter of our newspaper. "The main purpose of the safety precautions is to reassure the parents," says José Mario Da Torre. The elegant 62-year-old Portuguese is the manager of the house. Brussels prescribes the rigid security measures for all 13 European Schools within the EU. “But we only do what is absolutely necessary,” says the headmaster. There are four such institutions in Europe's capital Brussels alone, and in Germany the EU operates European schools in Karlsruhe, Frankfurt am Main and Munich. Other countries are Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Alicante is the only city in Spain with a European school because it is the seat of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
Wherever a European authority is established, a European school follows. The employees at the EUIPO have the right to register their children there. As José Mario Da Torre explains, the local Spaniards who work at the EUIPO, regardless of whether they are cleaning ladies or caretakers, enjoy the privilege of having their offspring taught in Avenida Locutor Vicente Hipólito. The offer is gladly accepted, although there are enough local schools in Alicante. Around 60 percent of the students in the house are children of employees at the EUIPO. In addition, the school has contracts with local companies that recruit their staff internationally. Being able to train their offspring at the European School is an advantage for companies in the competition for top employees. There is also a preferred list, as Da Torre calls it, for the offspring of diplomats, university employees and medical professors who end up in Alicante. The rest of the approximately 1050 apprenticeship places at the European School are filled with children from local residents. “But the waiting list is long,” admits the director. However, the school was not founded for the children of Spanish parents, because the Spanish state is responsible for their education in Alicante as well.
Many of the graduates of the Escuela Europea de Alicante later start impressive international careers, be it in business or in EU institutions. The school principal can also look back on such an EU career. The EU flag hangs clearly in his spacious office. The walls are adorned with pictures whose naive painting is reminiscent of his homeland Portugal. The artist is Da Torres Frau Cibelis, who works as a teacher in the same house. The boss comes from the small town of Barreiro, is actually a physical education teacher and has worked at the head of a European school for the past 25 years. The price of the climb are many moves across Europe. In addition to his mother tongue, Da Torre speaks English, Spanish, Italian, French and German. "I am a European citizen who was fortunately born in Portugal," he says of himself. Of course he is a "proud Portuguese", but in general the citizens of Europe are hardly any different - not even in mentality, like Da Torre during his many stays in the various regions of Europe has noticed to his own amazement. He traces this back to the Roman Empire, whose culture had a decisive influence on all European peoples.
Da Torre is all the more sad about the impending Brexit. He believes British citizens were poorly informed about the EU before the referendum. The mess created by the British government is having an impact on the European School in Alicante. There are two seconded British teachers in the house. After some back and forth, they would now have a right to stay until 2020. “But maybe the British will change their minds by then,” he says hopefully. In the Escuela Europea de Alicante students from up to 60 nations are taught. Friendships and first love affairs emerge colorfully across language barriers. But the children can easily cope with the Babylonian language confusion. Most of their parents come from two nations, so the offspring will grow up bilingually from day one. Almost all children in Alicante speak Spanish, and English is a matter of course anyway. The multilingualism is undoubtedly the great strength of the graduates. But geniuses are by no means the only ones growing up in the European Schools. The students have deficits in other subjects. Teaching in Alicante is in 18 different languages. Pupils who come from a small EU country sometimes sit in pairs or even alone with a teacher in the classroom.
The colorful mix of nations is of course also reflected in the staff room. "The atmosphere is open, you are integrated immediately," reports Anja Fischer. The 45-year-old high school teacher from Augsburg has been teaching in Alicante for four years. There are no prejudices against colleagues from other nations. On the contrary. Many international friendships would be formed, which would greatly enrich one's personal horizon. Unfortunately, it is often necessary to say goodbye again. "That hurts, even if you soon cultivate friendships across Europe," says Anja Fischer with regret. But every teacher has to go back home after their fixed-term contract has expired. Of course, the children of the teachers working there also go to the European School. Moving abroad is often difficult for their spouse. The divorce rate is not inconsiderable; many teachers are singles. Or the educators leave Alicante after a year because their partners cannot cope with the climate or the unfamiliar environment.
Florian Thalhammer will also be going back to his old school in Cham in the Bavarian Forest in August 2021. Born in Regensburg, he teaches German, German as a foreign language and history. In the last-mentioned subject in particular, working with colleagues from other countries is sometimes a challenge. “This is a lived Europe, but it can crash,” he knows. Because regardless of whether it is about the Middle Ages or industrialization, every nation has its own perspective on it. The 42-year-old regrets that the Bavarian history curriculum is very centered on the Free State. Instead, at the European School it is important to always shed light on the European dimensions. “At home you always look at your own belly button, but you can't do that at this school.” The European School is an experience that will shape your life not only for teachers, but also for students. "Above all, the young people here learn to respect people from other cultures and nations," emphasizes Director Da Torre. He proudly talks about his own children who did their Baccalaureat at European schools, as the Abitur is called here. Now they advanced their careers as engineers and doctors. In fact, the baccalaureate opens doors to universities around the world. The EU qualification is recognized in the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and of course all EU countries. It is a future European elite that is being trained here. But the young people have incorporated a European identity into their thinking that makes narrow-minded nationalist thinking impossible for them. European schools like the one in Alicante are an important part of the European peace project.
EU Intellectual Property Office
The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), founded in 1994, was established in Alicante, a city with 330,000 inhabitants on the Spanish Costa Blanca. Its 775 employees, many of whom are lawyers and IT specialists from all over Europe, watch over brands and designs. Here entrepreneurs from all over the world can have their brands and designs protected for the EU. As is well known, the European Patent Office responsible for technology works in Munich.
Anyone who suspects the supposedly EU-typical waste of money is wrong. According to the budget, the EUIPO will collect around 251 million euros in fees this year. With this, the authority finances itself, it has not needed a subsidy from the Brussels coffers for years. According to media reports, a profit of around 4.5 million euros was achieved in 2017.
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