Euro Challenge: The Opportunity of a Lifetime

During the awards reception in New York

The Euro Challenge was the opportunity of a lifetime that shaped who I am today: my worldviews and my aspirations for future career paths. It showed me not only the value of deliberative and thoughtful policymaking with all its complexity, but also informed my understanding and appreciation of the historical mission of the European Union — its institutions and its future, even in the face of a populist wave that is resurgent for the first time in decades.

The Euro Challenge’s emphasis on both collaboration and competition makes it reflective of how policymakers actually undergo the rigorous process of working between institutions and governments to promote the public interest. It involves all the deep analysis, compromise, and knowledge of fundamental economic and social principles that are undervalued by some nowadays, but are critical to the continued success and prosperity of the Transatlantic world.

Visiting the EU Delegation to the US in Washington D.C.

By far, the most engaging and challenging part was doing the research and tailoring our policy suggestions to the practical realities of Greece’s economic status. We read through numerous studies of the OECD, World Bank, and IMF on Greek and broader European economic issues. We had to consider the theoretical economic good within the context of a country-specific focus, something not asked in a standard economics course, but far closer to what professional economists do for a living. While the trip to Washington, D.C. was spectacular, and being able to discuss our ideas with real policymakers was beyond rewarding, the process and competition were in and of themselves more rewarding than any other project I’ve worked on.

However, perhaps the most important thing I have learned from the Euro Challenge is that this mutual dependence, a result of the shared political and economic institutions of the E.U., is about something much greater than gains from trade or regulatory harmonization.

Just as Monnet and Adenauer stitched France and Germany together by inseparable bonds in the aftermath of World War II, so the development of a pan-European identity and economy serves to unite Europeans behind their common values rather than their specific national differences.

The populists and eurosceptics who balk at EU’s institutions forget they are grounded not only in practical economic realities, but in shared, time- and experience-tested liberal values. The free movement of goods, people, and ideas isn’t only smart economics — it’s a full expression of the freedom and openness that we profess in our philosophy as well.

With EU Ambassador David O’Sullivan at the EU Delegation to the US in Washington, D.C.

I am beyond grateful for the opportunity that I had to participate in the Euro Challenge. My most sincere thanks to Ms. Valerie Rouxel-Laxton and Mr. Ben Carliner of the Delegation of the EU in Washington, D.C. and Mr. Ethan Goebel of Working In Support of Education for leading us around that day, and most especially to my wonderful economics teacher, Euro Challenge coach, and life mentor, Mrs. Lisa Bergman.

This story is part of the #EUatSchool series, showcasing the wide array of EU educational programs, grants, and competitions open to Americans. From Erasmus+ to Euro Challenge to Kids Euro Festival, each week we’ll publish new stories written by the high schoolers, college students, researchers, and educators who have experienced and benefitted from these programs first-hand. Find new stories on Medium each week.

The Euro Challenge competition is an exciting educational opportunity for American high school students to learn about the European Union and the euro. Student teams select one member country of the “euro area” to examine an economic problem at the country level, and to identify policies for responding to that problem. Teams compete at the regional and national level, with the top five teams receiving scholarship awards. Learn more.