• This paper sets out ways to reform European education systems to  ensure  that  they  equip  Europeans  with  a  forward-looking set of key competences that prepares them for the workplace, but  also  helps  to  create  a  European  identity.  It  argues  that education and training—enhanced through mobility, transnational cooperation  and  structural  reforms—are  critical  to  boosting individual, economic and societal resilience; providing both basic and high-level skills and competences; reducing inequalities; promoting entrepreneurial mindsets; fostering inclusive, stable and democratic societies; and making a success of migration and globalisation. Furthermore, education should help to empower young people to engage with and shape the future of a Europe of democracy, solidarity and inclusion. The ultimate goal is to build a true European Education Area by 2025, which would, inter alia, improve students’ mobility, prepare the ground for the mutual recognition of diplomas and boost language learning.

    Education EU Institutions European Union Social Policy Youth

    Education in Europe: Towards a True Education Area by 2025

    IN FOCUS

    27 Mar 2018

  • I say Europe, you say…?

    Achieving Europe. Europe of Success. Europe of the Youth.

    Ramón Luis Valcárcel’s question to you was: how do you think the EU could better contribute to equipping our youngsters with the digital skills needed to thrive in the digital economy?

    There are two significant areas where additional effort is urgently needed. Firstly, improving teaching quality and equipping educators with the instruments and skills they require is key to offering an effective 21st century learning environment and promoting digital literacy. The way governments and communities recruit, prepare, support and retain teachers has a direct impact on the kind of training young people receive and how prepared they are for the demands of the modern labour market.

    Secondly, the traditional, tired 20th century education model with its standardised assessment  tests, memorising and regurgitating facts, and subject knowledge disconnected from real-life context, is no longer enough. The learning experience of the future should be based around student empowerment, building key competencies, fostering an open and flexible learning environment and ensuring actual business and life opportunities are being presented and taken advantage of.

    If you could have dinner with ANY European leader right now, who would it be and what would you ask them?

    Sebastian Kurz.

    Digitalising the EU is one your passions in parliament, what obstacles remain to achieving a European digital single market?

    The Digital Single Market Strategy is about transforming European society as a whole and making sure it can face the future with confidence. It is true that both technology and our daily lives are often changing at a much faster pace than policymakers can keep up with. However, we have been very quick in legislating on the Regulation for Portability of Online Content, which is a clear victory for consumers. 

    We have also worked on a report on digitising European industry, intended to lay the groundwork for a new Europe of technology, innovation and a skilled workforce. What lies ahead still are the e-Privacy regulation, the Directive on Digital Content Contracts and the Single Market Information Tool regulation, among others. It is our responsibility to resolve the remaining obstacles to a fully-functioning Digital Single Market and make sure that any legislation is as future-proof as possible.

    If you were not an MEP right now, what do you think you would be doing instead?

    A combination of two things, probably: helping communities get access to quality education and skills, in whatever capacity, and something more creative on the side – art or interior design, perhaps? 

    As we continue to grow and innovate the European data economy, do you think it is possible to strike a balance between digital innovation and protecting a citizen’s right to privacy online?

    In my work I have always sought to strike a balance, so I don’t consider reconciling concerns around online privacy and the data economy to be impossible. Online privacy is of huge importance, of course, but it is also important to communicate what it actually means and how users can protect themselves. Many people, for instance, do not like the so called “cookie banner” and believe that all cookies out there are ‘bad’ or at least intrusive. This stems from a lack of understanding of what they are actually for.

    Digital literacy is one of the main characteristics of a thriving modern society, and the process of raising awareness of our digital footprint and personal data should be led by businesses and NGOs as much as by the European Institutions. As we are trying to move forward, talking to citizens and businesses is a priority – we need to think carefully before introducing any legislation that could change the user experience of the internet as a whole.

    Summertime is upon us, so please share with us your favourite holiday destination?

    The Mediterranean blue mixed with Bulgarian natural green. 

    Bulgaria takes over the Presidency of the Council of Europe in 2018, what are the key priorities and challenges for Bulgaria during this 6-month tenure?

    It has been proven that successful presidencies are based on effective administrative execution and extensive coordination with the other two members of the trio, as well as with the European Commission. In this regard the key priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency, due to be officially announced in the coming weeks, include security and migration, the debate on the Future of Europe with a particular focus on the Cohesion policy after 2020, and the future of the Western Balkans. Recent political developments in FYROM and Montenegro have pushed the region back to the top of the EU agenda, and being in immediate proximity, the Bulgarian government intends to bring up the topic and advocate for a decisive but forward-looking EU policy on the subject.

    For a European perspective, what do you see as the key takeaways from the recent French presidential election?

    Undoubtedly the loudest, clearest message from the recent Presidential and the first round of the Parliamentary elections in France is that people chose Europe. Their individual preferences for left- or right-wing domestic policies notwithstanding, the French did not fall in the trap of anti-EU populism. Another emerging trend in Europe, solidified by the French elections, is the rise of a new generation of young and dynamic pro-European politicians.

    What albums and artists are on your phone right now?

    I’m currently on a relaxation kick – a lot of Ludovico Einaudi, as well as a very old traditional Bulgarian folk song called ‘Yovano Yovanke’, performed by renowned cello player Ian Maksin.

    As a young politician, how do you think we can better engage young people in the electoral process both domestically and at a European level?

    Let’s seek to engage the bright and best young people of Europe not only through party ideologies but through issue-based projects. Young people today are much more practical and a lot less traditional. They dream, create and commit themselves to concrete initiatives, sometimes regardless of their political orientation. When we want to get the young passionate about Europe we have to tell the story of Europe and engages with both – their hearts and minds. They need to feel European in order to achieve for Europe. 

    Brussels or Strasbourg?

    Strasbourg is a beautiful city. I particularly admire its architecture, friendly people and young character. But I’m also a practical person and when it comes to functionality I believe the European Parliament could function better only from Brussels. 

    The West Wing or House of Cards?

    House of Cards. Haven’t watched the West Wing. 

    Which EPP colleague would you suggest for our next interview? What would be your question for her or him?  

    Vice President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen. I would like to ask him: what is your vision for Europe in 2040?

    Centre-Right European People's Party Leadership Youth

    I say Europe, you say…? Interview with MEP Eva Maydell (Paunova)

    I Say Europe

    22 Jul 2017

  • Massive anti-corruption protests on March 26th have effectively ended the sleepy landscape of the Russian politics that have existed for the past three years since the annexation of Crimea, a period dominated by the notion of “unchallengeable” sky-high approval ratings of Putin. The country is visibly fed up with Putin’s cronyism, obscene corruption and inequality, which were the prime targets of the protests.

    There are a few remarkable things about Sunday’s rallies. First, about 100 cities were affected, including such names as Komsomolsk-na-Amure, Saransk, Novokuznetsk, Nizhny Tagil – provincial towns which are normally unheard of in regular Russian political life. In regional capitals, up to several thousand were attending, setting records of participation in many cases. Second, this is the first time when most of such rallies were forbidden by authorities – but people turned out regardless. Beforehand, opposition was only able to mobilize big masses of protesters on the condition that rallies were officially approved; non-sanctioned rallies normally scared off most people and were down to a narrow number of dedicated oppositioners.

     This time, it was all different – people across the country have shown no fear despite arrests and heavy police pressure. This is a sharp contrast with anything we’ve seen before. There are clear signs that people in Russia are fed up with the rule of the same faces who have been in power for almost two decades now for the benefit of enriching themselves. Dominating young faces also suggest that the younger generation sees no opportunity for a decent future within Putin’s system, which largely provides benefits and social lifts to insiders, and excludes everyone else.

    You can get a glimpse of people’s resolve to stand against pressure in my short video which I’ve captured right at the heart of the events at Pushkinskaya square in Moscow on Sunday – people chanting “Russia against Putin”. All right, I could have been wrong predicting last year that you may see such mass demonstrations of discontent with Putin’s regime at the September 2016 Parliamentary elections – but in fact this demonstration turned out just to be delayed for six more months. Elderly opposition figures at the Duma elections failed to impress Russians who want change, but a younger and much more energetic Alexey Navalny have finally managed to ignite people. Navalny has been remarkably successful in finding a common cause and building a wide network of support across the country and his regional visits gather huge crowds of supporters, something also unseen in many years, as a lot of opposition forces were, unfortunately, too Moscow-centric.

    Together with Navalny’s ongoing Presidential campaign, further rallies like that would build more and more pressure against Putin and his regime in the coming months. Arrests won’t stop the momentum. The resolve of protesters on Sunday is a stark contrast with passiveness and fatigue of bleak pro-Putin demonstrations marking the anniversary of the Crimean demonstration just a week before. On March 26th, no one ever showed up on the streets in Putin’s defence, except heavily armed police and troops — supposedly existent “armies” of Putin’s diehard fans are nowhere to be seen. It seems that the tale of “universal 90% support for Putin in Russia” has effectively ended right in front of our eyes.

    Mass arrests and exceptional armed police defence, however, clearly suggest that Putin doesn’t want to easily let go. But for the first time, this was confronted by real mass resolve to protest despite personal risks, and current pressure, arrests and insane accusations against protesters on state TV which only make people angrier. The bad news is that serious confrontation sometime in the future seems inevitable, as protest rallies have only just begun and Russians are passionate to turn to the streets once again. Youth forums are now filled with anger, particularly after Putin’s spokesman’s remarks that youngsters who attended rallies were “paid” to protest. It is very likely that things may turn violent soon if Putin doesn’t back down with his repression machine.

    The good news is that Russia is back: our people have remembered who they really are, and demanded freedom and respect of their rights with energy previously unseen. Sunday was really a turning point.

    Vladimir Milov Democracy EU-Russia Values Youth

    Vladimir Milov

    Sunday’s Protests: Russia Is Back

    Blog

    28 Mar 2017

  • Politicians need to answer more questions than ever before. And more than this, they need to provide answers more rapidly, and answers need to be more comprehensive. Due to the increase in the use of social network sites (SNS) and data being exchanged faster than ever, the challenge for politicians is to live up to the new and additional requirements involved in communicating with constituents. Online politics tries to offer tools to listen to constituents better and to reach out to them through new methods.

    Laying the groundwork

    Online tools are supposed to enhance democracy and make politics more efficient and effective. The online tools help citizens and politicians alike to exchange information in the process of reaching decisions. Nonetheless, Europe has seen not more but rather less political engagement in recent years—at least within political parties. Is public deliberation feasible through online politics, and if so, how can new tools be used to pave the way?

    To answer these questions, it is necessary to take a step back and define the levels of representation. Traditionally, there have been ‘two sets of competing philosophies of representation’, as Ferber et al. (2007, 391) point out: ‘The trustee… model, where representatives act in accordance with their own judgement, versus the delegate, where representatives follow the wishes of their constituents.’ The authors go on to say that legislators do not conform completely to either type.

    However, it seems reasonable to believe that the delegate model is becoming predominant. The way politicians carry out their work is changing as a result of new ways of exchanging information: the increased use of SNS, websites, email, Internet forums and chat rooms. In all these ways citizens are placing new demands on their representatives, and in this situation, the delegate model of representation is more appropriate.8

    Eva Majewski Party Structures Political Parties Youth

    Eva Majewski

    Online politics for citizens in the twenty-first century

    Blog

    08 Oct 2015

  • ‘You must either modify your dreams or magnify your skills.’ – Jim Rohn

    SKILLS EROSION IS A PROBLEM

    The real issue of the jobs crisis among young people is not the lack of income but the erosion of skills. Not being in the jobs market, dealing with daily tasks and problems, results in loss of ability to do things. Ultimately, you don’t gain new knowledge or skills and lose competitiveness. Less employers will take you on board as a result.

    Staying outside the jobs market is not only detrimental to young people and their future but it is harmful to employers and to the economy as a whole (lower tax contributions and increased social welfare payments). Prior to the crises, many EU member states performed well in the job matching process. Throughout the crises both unemployment rates and job vacancy rates increased.

    Our earlier research (http://ces.tc/1p898xg) showed that Europe is experiencing a long-run negative trend when it comes to youth employment. At the same time it revealed that the rate of young people not in education, employment, or training (NEET rate) remains unchanged in the long run. These two elements are sustained by the skills mismatch and vice versa. The research also revealed growing divergence across the EU as some member states are performing relatively well while others lag behind in youth employment and NEET rates.

    THE COSTLY LACK OF SKILLS

    In 2011 Eurofound estimated that the cost of jobless young people amounted to 1.21% of EU GDP. This translated into annual loss of €153 billion. In the long run much larger cost would incur due to the lack of skills in the EU.

    An important piece of the puzzle is the issue of education and training reform with regards to skills. But there is a catch. Reforms should be implemented at national level because education policy interventions are reserved for member states, not the European Commission. An observation is that reforms are painfully slow across the EU, despite the urgency of the crises. This fact is revealed by the study on the implementation of Commission’s 2011/2012 Country Specific Recommendations. Only 18% of the measures were implemented while 43% were not implemented at all (as of March 2014).

    TEACH THEM SKILLS

    If Europe wants to reverse decreasing youth employment, lower NEET rates and match skills supply with skills demand, key items need to be incorporated in education curricula: Problem-solving, financial literacy, self-learning, critical thinking, creativity, digital literacy, and communication skills.

    Problem solving and critical thinking relate to the ability to identify, approach and solve a wide range of issues at work or in life. OECD’s 2012 PISA study in problem solving reveals a shortage of such skills in Europe when compared to Asia. Financial literacy is an essential life skill about managing your own money. Research indicates that youngsters’ knowledge in this area is very limited. Digital skills are a must-have in every office but many young people don’t know how to work with office-related software products. Communication skills are needed when conveying ideas and getting your point across – even creative and innovative ideas are doomed when they are poorly communicated.

    Self-learning is probably the most important component and it is the short cut to being more competitive on the labour market. Knowledge is now freely accessible online (Massive Open Online Courses) and young people should take advantage of that.

    AN IDEA-TO-INCOME CULTURE

    In addition to the new set of skills, already in high school, young people should be trained to follow an idea-to-income culture. This relates to self-employment practices and entrepreneurship as effective tools to improve youth employment. Such courses should help young people walk the path to establishing and running their own business, dealing successfully with regulatory environment and funding issues.

    TEACHING REDEFINED

    Finally and most importantly, teaching should always mean motivating, mentoring, engaging and communicating. Acquiring the previously mentioned skills requires innovative teaching approach, not only hi-tech class rooms. Training in such skills should be in the form of interactive sessions and projects, involving students and getting them used to applying the knowledge in everyday situations.

    The Martens Centre, in cooperation with the Kós Károly Academy (KKA) and the Hungarian Youth Conference of Romania (MIERT), organised the 2014 EU Camp held from 8 to 13 July in Romania. A panel dedicated to the skills issue, education reforms and youth employment attracted more than 150 young people and provided answers to their questions.

    Kalin Zahariev Education Jobs Youth

    Kalin Zahariev

    Avoiding the cost of no skills

    Blog

    16 Jul 2014

  • The real reason for youth unemployment is structural incompatibility between the attained education and the needs of the labour market. Among Slovenian 24-29-year-olds, who have successfully completed their education, 24% are unemployed. This percentage is growing faster than unemployment rates in other EU countries. How is this possible, and what can we do about it?

    An explanation can be found in two developments. The enrolment into tertiary education in Slovenia is about 70%, the highest percentage among all member states. The recommendation of the European Commission was 30% and was raised to 40% in Agenda 2020. Also, Slovenian graduates majoring in social sciences and liberal arts outnumber those who major in engineering and natural sciences by 2.68 to 1.

    This structural incompatibility is of course interwoven with the economic crisis and it is obvious that the economic crisis increases the number of unemployed persons. However, there are professions which despite the economic crisis offer vacancies but for which young graduates with suitable education cannot be found. In Slovenia one should speak about two crises: the economic crisis and the crisis of human resources. Full or near full employment of young graduates is possible only if the economy is expanding and when new graduates match the needs of the labour market. We should have two goals: to establish an equilibrium between the educational structure of future generations and the labour market, and to find the solutions for unemployable graduates. Therefore, I recommend three distinctive measures.

    The first measure, which is a starting point for all others, is to provide early and correct information to young people and their parents about the situation in the labour market. Without the necessary information they cannot make well-balanced decisions according to labour market needs. It is absurd to expect that the labour market and the choices for studies will automatically harmonise. Clear information is needed and it should come from an institution or non-governmental organisation enjoying the trust of the general public.

    The second measure is an administrative restriction of enrolment in study programs, which should reduce enrolment from 70% to 40%. The restrictions should be introduced very carefully and on the basis of the largest possible political consensus. On the one hand, we should be aware that it is in the public interest that public financing only supports those study programs which are expected to produce graduates that can be employed within a reasonable amount of time after graduation. On the other hand, the basic right of each person to obtain the education he desires should be respected.

    The third measure should be to introduce special study programs for young graduates to make them more employable. Unemployable graduates represent a social burden, a significant loss of talent and is a cause of social instability. As it is in the public interest to retrain them, the government should provide some assistance.

    The crisis of human resources represents a serious threat to our economic development and social stability. The exit out of the economic crisis, and our future in general, depends a great deal on how we will address the human resources problem.
    It is clear that a deeper analysis on the structure of professions and educational levels in member states with high youth unemployment and how the structure will be employable by 2030 is needed. Based on this study measures could be enacted that would coordinate the younger generations’ educations with the demands of the labour market.

    Andrej Umek Education Jobs Youth

    Andrej Umek

    Youth Unemployment: A Crisis of Human Resources

    Blog

    04 Apr 2014

  • Business Economy Youth

    Overcoming the stigma of failure: Perceptions of the European youth

    Collaborative

    23 Dec 2013

  • What would your employment ad sound like, young man? The variety of crises (financial, economic and debt crises) that clouded over the EU triggered intense youth employment debates. At the Centre for European Studies we carried out in-house research that paves the way to solutions.

     Eurostat, extracted Sep. 2013
    Figure 1: Employment rate, age 15-24 years, EU28 and Turkey, 2002-2012 Source: Eurostat, extracted Sep. 2013
    Youth employment (age 15-24) in EU-28 shows a downward trend ever since 2002. There was an increase to 37.3% between 2004 and 2008 when the economic boom created higher youth employment rates. When the system plunged into crisis, youth employment rates decreased by a large margin. The crises aggravated a structural problem of youth employment. In 2012 youth employment rate in EU-28 (32.8%) come close to the rate in Turkey (31.5%).

     Eurostat, extracted Sep. 2013
    Figure 2: Employment rate, EU-28, age 40-64 years, 2002-2012 Source: Eurostat, extracted Sep. 2013
    Our analysis shows as well that elderly employment increased rather steadily since 2002 (from 62.6% to 67.6% in 2012). The pre-crises economic development boosted the employment rate to 67.5%. The 2012 numbers indicate a clear recovery path for the EU-28. This shows that young people took the burden of the crises. In addition to that, more and more elderly people remain active in the labour market. This is a key achievement of the active ageing policies.

     Eurostat, extracted Nov. 2013
    Figure 3: NEET rate, EU-28, 2002-2012. Source: Eurostat, extracted Nov. 2013
    EU-28 NEET rate (young people not in employment, not in formal/informal education and training) shows no improvement since 2002. Again, the pre-crises economy delivered some relief. In 2002 the NEET rate (age 15-29) was 15.6% and 15.9% in 2012. The number of young people that are not employed or do not participate in a training has remained unchanged. This indicates that more and more young people stay in education and training programmes to compensate for not finding a proper employment.

     Eurostat, extracted Sep. 2013
     Eurostat, extracted Sep. 2013
     Eurostat, extracted Sep. 2013

    Figures 4, 5 & 6: NEET rates, selected countries, 2000-2012. Source: Eurostat, extracted Sep. 2013
    When we zoom in at individual countries, growing divergence in the EU surfaces. We distinguish three groups.
    The outperforming Denmark, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden where we see a clear recovery trend in terms of NEET rates.

    The average Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia where NEET rates are high (especially in Bulgaria). The lagging Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal where NEET rates increased sharply and are still increasing.

    The negative youth employment trend and continuously high NEET rates is one thing but there is more to it. Our research points out few other burdensome trends – labour mobility, unpaid internships and temporary employment.

    Labour mobility within the EU rests very low, according to OECD data. Important causes for this are bureaucratic procedures, the burdensome recognition of qualifications and language barriers. These issues lead to the bigger problem – the incompleteness of the European labour market.

    Unpaid internships are the second chunk of the youth employment issue. A survey by the European Youth Forum reveals that approximately half of the internships in the EU are unpaid. Without remuneration, fewer young people will be able to afford a traineeship due to the cost of living. Thus fewer youngsters will stand a better chance of being employed. Another effect of unpaid internships is that there are no contributions to the social security and tax systems.

    Temporary employment rates for young people in the EU are very high, soaring over 42% in 2012, according to Eurostat data. The main issue here is the lack of sustainability and high uncertainty among youth. This for instance prevents many young people from establishing families.

    Conclusions

    • The crises were a wakeup call. The EU youth employment rate is a long-term negative trend and a result of structural problems.
    • NEET rates today will hit back on EU’s economy like a boomerang. Simply put, the economy will be held back by the growing size of the EU’s lost generation.
    • Europe is like a car with wheels spinning at different speeds. There is a great country-to-country difference within the EU in terms of youth employment and NEET rates. Instead of convergence, we witness divergence.
    • Labour mobility, unpaid internships and temporary employment are overlooked topics. However, these are crucial bits of the youth employment issue.
    • Blame-it-on-Brussels attitude was and still is a popular excuse for many governments. However, social, labour and youth policies are foremost in the hands of the Member States.

    Recommendations

    • Implement reforms. Southern Europe and especially the former Socialist countries should address the low youth employment rates and high NEET rates. The 2014-2020 Programming Period offers funding tools for such reforms.
    • Bridge business and universities. Start-up platforms and initiatives, spin-off companies and clusters should be prioritised by governments through public and private investment (risk capital).
    • Update education and skills. Introduce: 1. Vocational training to the bachelor’s and master’s degrees; 2. Entrepreneurship education and training in secondary and tertiary education; 3. Digital literacy and transversal skills such as creativity, critical thinking, self-learning and communication.
    • Support youth labour mobility. 1. Cut the labour mobility red tape through labour legislation. 2. Revision of national labour regulations should be encouraged more by the European Commission. 3. Full implementation of the European Qualifications Framework. 4. Improve the foreign language skills of the young Europeans.
    • Restrain unpaid internships. There should be more tax relief for companies that employ interns but no unpaid internships.
    • Limit temporary employment. There are two main priorities in this field – ensuring more, permanent but flexible work contracts and deepened social partnership.
    • Proactive young people. Knowledge is widely and freely accessible nowadays – the internet. Accumulating skills and knowledge makes you more competitive with a better chance of being employed. This is not a front row ticket to employment but at least you are getting closer to it.
    Kalin Zahariev Economy Education Jobs Youth

    Kalin Zahariev

    Young, never employed, under qualified, looking for a future. Hire me!

    Blog

    12 Dec 2013

  • The Centre for European Studies (CES) has launched an exciting new initiative to gather the best ideas from the youth across Europe. The “Up2Youth” public opinion survey is an interactive, online initiative for young Europeans to express and exchange ideas on the issues that matter the most to them. From education to jobs, and from social policy to foreign affairs, the survey allows participants to address a wide range of issues, but in a quick and user-friendly way.

    European People’s Party (EPP) President Joseph Daul praised the initiative: “The Up2Youth survey is a fantastic opportunity for young people across Europe to make their voices heard, and the EPP is proud to be the first European political party to offer the youth the chance to share their ideas in this way. In view of the May 2014 European elections, politicians must listen to the youth, hear their concerns, and consider their ideas and solutions to the challenges we face. We look forward to the feedback we will receive and I can assure all participants that their ideas will be taken seriously by leaders throughout the EPP family, especially as we finalise our political platform for the 2014 European elections.”

    The President of the CES, Mikuláš Dzurinda, also applauded the Up2Youth project. “This survey will allow Europe’s youth to tell EU leaders what is most important to them. I am confident that there will be no shortage of great ideas, and we are especially pleased to further the political process by serving as a platform for debate and discussion.”

    The ten participants offering the best policy ideas will be invited to the EPP Congress in Dublin, Ireland on 6 and 7 March 2014 to meet and share their ideas directly with EU leaders, including the EPP’s candidate for President of the European Commission, who will be chosen in Dublin. Furthermore, the participant offering the very best idea will also be offered a paid, six-month internship at the CES in Brussels.

    Visit our brand new Up2Youth page and leave your policy proposals: http://www.up2youth.eu/#!/en

    Education Elections Jobs Social Policy Youth

    CES launches the exciting ‘Up2Youth’ initiative

    Other News

    11 Dec 2013

  • Youth politicians all around Europe are thrilled. The topics of the young generation are finally high up on the political agenda: the Youth Guarantee, Youth Unemployment, and ‘Employability’ are now established in the political jargon. The political focus on the younger generation and the amount of policies made is evolving for each day that goes by.

    As much as we embrace the fact and try to make our – the young people’s – voice heard, we still have to ask ourselves which tools would enable us to live a self-determined life – and which are the ones arousing covetousness at its best but add, in fact, little to a sustainable solution. Don’t get me wrong! Any efforts embracing what the young generation calls for should be appreciated. While elderly have their own strong representations, every young generation has to fight for their spot. Two initiatives are highly debated at the moment: The Youth Guarantee and the Loan Scheme for Master students.

    While the Youth Guarantee is aiming at sudden support for the youth and tries to offer training or employment opportunities within four months to young people under the age of 25, we have to question whether the allocation of funds to achieve these goals is granted properly: the idea to focus on regions is good since it follows the principle of subsidiarity, solutions should be found on the level on which the problem actually exists. Nonetheless, by setting the measurement that youth unemployment needs to reach a level above 25% in the region, moral hazard behaviour might be triggered. Regions will have an interest in presenting themselves in a worse state than they actually are.

    Even if an improvement would be achieved – that means young people will have found their way into the labour market or into training – the regions will have an incentive to present their levels of youth unemployment to remain above 25%. While this race to the bottom will aim at securing cash flow into the region, it weakens the efforts to move the youth out of its misery. It is effective, sustainable solutions that need to be considered. The grants provided in the Youth Guarantee program need to be orientated to programs that ensure sustainable educational programs and trainings. They need to focus on the actual demand in the labour market.

    It is important to point out that actual achievements are not the main factor in the planning of policies. It is rather the opposite, if we take a look at the Master Loan Scheme Guarantee. It is a mean that shall empower students to move across Europe, in order to study in a master programme in their desired field of studies. Both, the EU Commission and the European Parliament tasked the European Investment Bank (EIB) to channel through guarantees to private banks. These will then be able to hand out student loans at a reasonable interest rate. It is a tool envisioned to particularly fill one gap: provide financing for students that desire to complete their entire master studies abroad. Conventional Erasmus funds cannot be tapped for such, they can only be utilized if a student is enrolled in a university program from which he then takes parts of his study for a semester or two abroad.

    It is more than just closing a financing gap, it is also considering the regional diversity and richness we provide in Europe: in the 21st century, it is more important than ever to invest in human capital ad in education. While technology is certainly a tool in helping to bridge distances, this is only true within a limited scope. When education cannot be delivered to the student wherever he may be, then the student must be enabled to go get this knowledge at another destination. Specialized learning at the best can be achieved easily with the loan scheme guarantee. 300.000 students shall benefit from this mean in the period 2014 – 2020. It is 300.000 young, highly-skilled students that do believe in their abilities. They are willing to put their claims onto the future and their prospect in life.

    Opposing this idea of creating opportunities will only result in the creation of a ‘lost generation’: Not a ‘lost generation’ in a sense as some politicians refer to these days when speaking about the unemployed youth. But we need to be careful not to create a lost generation that is being patronised! No one is forced to apply for any loans, but if people want to achieve great things in their lives and have trust in their abilities; they should by no means be stopped.

    We need a generation that believes in its bright future here in Europe!

    Eva Majewski Crisis European Union Jobs Youth

    Eva Majewski

    Freedom and the Prospect of Education

    Blog

    25 Jul 2013

  • Want to become part of a young team and a dynamic organisation? The Centre for European Studies is currently looking for a motivated and innovative individual to fill the position of Project Assistant, based in Brussels. The CES offers a temporary contract terminating at the end of 2014 to the successful candidate. The application deadline is 7 June 2013. For more details regarding the key responsibilities of the position, the desired skills, experience and candidate requirements, please visit our page: http://thinkingeurope.eu/join-team.

    Youth

    We are hiring!

    Other News

    27 May 2013

  • What do demonstrations on city streets in the Philippines in 2001, the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States in 2008, revocation of the results of the fraudulent elections in Moldavia in 2009, the M-15 movement with their camps and demonstrations in Spain in 2011, the so-called “Arab Spring” in the Middle East in early 2011, and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that started in New York, also in 2011, all have in common?

    They have all used social media to help organise such protests and mobilise their responsible agents. Yet these were much more than just about arranging a party: they all greatly exploited social media to establish communication networks and move towards their objectives.

    Today’s social media have helped make real the idea of a “global village”, first put forward by communications theorist Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s, and suggests the claims of a “flat world” by twenty first century essayist Thomas L. Friedman are true. According to Friedman, personal computers and the speed of the optic cable in the transfer of information have marked the modern revolution and almost removed the limitations of time and space.

    Social media’s quick development into an important way to influence society is part of the advancement of information and communication technologies. The study Social Media and Politics – The New Power of Political Influence explores the development and use of social media in influencing politics and society.

    Innovation Internet Society Technology Youth

    Social Media and Politics – The New Power of Political Influence

    Collaborative

    18 Dec 2012

  • In 1961, a group of five students founded the “International Christian-Democratic and Conservative Student Union”. In 2011 this organisation celebrated its 50th anniversary as “European Democrat Students”(EDS). For decades, EDS, the largest political student organisation was the starting point of many political careers and could be proud to be the oldest pan-European organisation of the centre-right. By 2011, it became the biggest organisation of young people in Europe, representing 1,600,000 students and young people. The authors recount not only the complete history of the EDS since its foundation, but also describe and interpret the various reasons for its existence. By reading this book, the deeper roots of European integration become visible, outshining daily European business and creating a European identity EDS has contributed so much to.

    Centre-Right Education European People's Party Values Youth

    Students on the Right Way: European Democrat Students 1961-2011

    Other

    01 May 2012

  • The founding of the Youth of the European People’s Party (YEPP) in 1997 was a remarkable event. After decades of division among the Christian Democrat and Conservative youth in Europe, which were split between two organisations-the European Young Christian Democrats (EYCD) and the Democratic Youth Community of Europe (DEMYC)-the critical mass of organisations finally decided to unite the centre-right youth in Europe in one single organisation in the mid-1990s. From the very beginning YEPP was a success and has developed into the largest centre-right youth organisation in Europe, bringing together 57 organisations from 39 countries. YEPP has also become the sole youth organisation linked to the European People’s Party, and in this way it has clearly contributed to the strengthening of the EPP political family. This book on the history of YEPP is based on primary written and oral sources. Documents from the YEPP archives have been used, along with a number of interviews with former YEPP Presidents and a number of key figures in YEPP’s history that were conducted specifically for the purpose of this publication.

    Centre-Right European People's Party Party Structures Values Youth

    United by one conviction: The history of the Youth of the European People’s Party

    Other

    06 Feb 2012

  • The “Occupy Wall Street Movement” has gathered in New York since September. Organising via blogs and adopting the slogan “We are the 99 per cent” (as opposed to the 1 per cent of the population who are wealthy), these protests have reignited an almost forgotten counter-globalization movement. Many different groups within society–not only unemployed people–are involved in a movement which currently has no real core identity.

    The Left, including the extreme Left, wants to claim ownership of the intentions and goals of the very heterogeneous groups participating, which even differ from country to country. In many European cities, protest movements are visibly on the rise, including the “United for Global Change”, a so called world-wide protest day, on October 15th. This counter-globalisation movement is seeking to find a strategy to combine their objections with those of the national protesters. On 15th of May “los indignados” (the indignants) protested in economically troubled Spain, and protests in Greece likewise were composed of people with different political views and social backgrounds united by anger and despair. In Greece, one can even say a massive movement has emerged.

    The counter-globalisation movement seeks to use these opportunities to recall their old slogans such as “A better world is possible!”. Indeed, after its emergence at the end of the 1990s, global, European and national elites have taken the old demands of the organization “Attac” seriously (the introduction of the Tobin Tax on financial transactions), which was founded in Paris in 1998 under the name = Association pour une taxation des transactions financières pour l’aide aux citoyens. Maybe surprisingly, the counter-globalisation movement was not very visible during the first global financial crisis in 2008.

    Background:

    This is changing now. First of all, after 3 years of crisis in many EU countries, with bank bailouts and an apparent retrun of at least some actors in the financial sector to some bad old habits, managers and bankers are much more clearly the scapegoats today. Second, countries like Greece, Spain and Italy have to implement strict austerity measures that are seriously hurting more and more people. Third, dimming economic perspectives for many Europeans correspond to a pervading sense of relative decline of Europe (and North America) vis-à-vis the emerging economies in China and elsewehere. Moreover, “citizens in anger”, formerly supporters of the state and the market economy who are shocked by the political and business elite, correspond very much to the bestselling French booklet “Indignez-vous!” (Time for Outrage). The author, Stéphane Frédéric Hessel, born in 1917, is a former ambassador, concentration camp survivor and French resistance fighter. The 32-page essay was first published in a small batch of 6,000 copies selling for not even 3 euro per piece. By the end of 2010, 6 million copies had been sold. But the ideas are extremely heterogeneous and specific: Hessel’s reasons for personal outrage include the growing gap between social classes, France’s treatment of its illegal immigrants, Israel’s behavior towards the Palestinians, the need to “re-establish a free press”, the need to protect the environment and the importance of protecting the French welfare system. He calls, from a leftist perspective for a peaceful and non-violent insurrection.

    The Left has tried with the emergence of the counter-globalisation movement to give themselves a new narrative, in the words of the philosopher Slavoj Žižek, a “communist manifesto for the 21st century”. Žižek was involved in the Wall Street protests, as well as Naomi Klein. The Canadian journalist wrote in 2000 with “No Logo” a bible for counter-globalisation activists. Her bestselling book can be interpreted as a manifesto with neo-anarchist and Marxist inspiration.

    But the protests have also met with some applause, or at least profound empathy, among conservative thinkers: Philipp Blond (the “red Tory”) has criticized Thatcherism from a fundamentally Catholic perspective years ago. The Daily Telegraph columnist and biographer of Margaret Thatcher, Charles Moore, has begun to think, in his own words, “that the Left may have been right, after all”, in a column written even before the London riots of early August 2011. His critique of neoliberalism was eagerly taken up by some German conservative intellectuals such as Frank Schirrmacher (editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) and Lorenz Jaeger (journalist). In Southern European countries, conservative criticism of the market has a longstanding tradition. But in European electoral politics, the main thrust relevant to the EPP family will continue to come from the Left.

    The mainstream Left, such as the Party of European Socialists and many of its member parties, is trying to profit from the new wave of protests by pointing out that they have criticized “neo-liberalism” and “casino capitalism” for a long time already, and demanded stronger state intervention in the economy (“more politics, less capitalism”), a financial transaction tax, stricter banking regulation, as well as less emphasis on austerity and more on stimulus. Of course, this last point is made especially by socialist parties in opposition, not those in power in Greece and Spain which have to enact austerity themselves.

    Currently, we can see all possible forms of protest: violent and non-violent, reactive and preventive in terms of the timing of police intervention, spontaneous and long-planned, illegal and legal in respect to the law, repressive and tolerant in the ways of expression, brutal and calm related to the degree of force used and broad and selective in terms of an intended programmatic agenda. There is an ambivalent, declining confidence in legislatures and governments, but no general distrust of coherent polities within European national systems. But more and more, populations (as well as the media) are in fear of a so-called casino-capitalism and the alleged injustice of the financial system.

    Options for a smart reaction:

    Here is how the EPP family should react to the protests and their underlying resentments, as well as their instrumentalisation by our political competitors:
    • The new global protest movement is extremely heterogeneous. It combines really existing new fears about the future of individual people with well-known and somewhat worn out radical leftist ideology.
    • The main difference between 2008 (when protests were expected but never materialized) and today is that austerity has begun to bite, and that the general mood of economic decline has spread.
    • The EPP family should point out that it understands the individual fears about economic perspectives, and some of the anger about financial market instabilities and bankers’ payments. But it should not buy into the anti-capitalist rhetoric of the Left. Nor should we show any understanding of the violence used by diverse radical groups which have only been waiting for the moment to profit from protest movements like this.
    • It should point out the contradictions in the leftist narrative: between a general critique of austerity on the one hand, and the budget cuts by socialist governments themselves. Above all, it should make a clear distinction between smarter financial market regulation that is needed to SAVE the markets, and a fundamental critique of the market economy which is the road to nowhere.
    • It should keep on repeating that besides airing their resentments (however justified or unjustified they are) and criticizing “global capitalism”, the “Occupy together” protests have not shown any coherent, systemic alternative to the globalized economy. Socialism, for the time being, is not on the placards. As soon as it appears, our family’s answer should be to point to the evident failures of socialist economics in the 20th century.
    • Above all, it should point out that in order to overcome the crisis, we will all have to work longer and harder, and keep on innovating our economies, which includes both smarter regulation and further liberalisation, f.e. in completing the EU Single Market.

    Picture source: www.blog.timesunion.com

    Florian Hartleb Crisis Jobs Society Values Youth

    Florian Hartleb

    Occupy Together: The emergence of a unified global protest movement?

    Blog

    10 Oct 2011