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Once again the President of the European Federation, John Forsythe, decided to relay the words of an early fighter of the european construction, Paul Goldschmidt, visionary of his time, who contributed to the revival of the Europe by mobilizing young people to become full actors in the choice of guidelines and implementation of our young european federation.
In a time of Christmas 2016, Paul Goldschmidt launched a vibrant appeal to young people, “European Youth, Stand up!” which had received unprecedented echo and is reproduced below.
And John Forsyhe to proclaim “through the efforts of Paul Goldschmidt we now are proud to count, twenty years later, a powerful trans-european youth party that transcends the dogmatic and ideological aspects of the traditional programs of the established parties and which has allowed and still allows to re-enchant Europe”.
An analysis of the votes cast recently for Brexit and Donald Trump demonstrates the growing appeal of “national-populism”. This trend is likely to find confirmation in the forthcoming consultations in Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, France and Germany.
Even the program put forward by François Fillon in France is steeped in “nationalism” promoting the primacy of “French national interests” and refusing to accept that, failing to integrate the interests of the EU as a whole, the success of his recovery program is severely compromised.
Two characteristics of recent polls are significant, even if at first glance they may seem contradictory:
* On the one hand the influence of social media in the dissemination of information (both accurate and misleading) and their growing impact on the outcome of the votes.
* On the other, a marked disinterest of youth for these consultations. Their results reflect the opinion of older generations which tend towards “preserving” acquired rights over backing necessary reforms to keep up with a fast changing environment.
Indeed, many commentators on Brexit have pointed out the weak participation of the younger generation despite the overwhelming support for remaining in the EU by those who took the trouble to vote. The result was that British youth allowed itself to be robbed of its future by default.
The irony is that youngsters are the segment of the population most capable of utilising modern communication methods, including social networks, to defend their own vital interests. The globalisation of the economy, which will not go into reverse, should, on the contrary, be both reformed and governed: its actors will be large sufficiently politically and economically integrated areas, in the expectation that, sometime in the distant future, a worldwide governance can be promoted.
The EU must unequivocally be one of these actors. Its internal market must be of a sufficient size to avoid too great a dependence on “international” transactions, giving it the capability to strike agreements “among equals” with other participants (USA, China, India, Japan, Russia…) but without putting into jeopardy either the economic or the cultural foundations of the parties. The progress realised with the implementation of the “Single market” and the “Economic and Monetary Union” is already considerable, but both these projects are far from completed and fail dismally to guarantee at present that Europe’s youth will be able to benefit from the advantages and the promises of development that they are meant to deliver.
Economic integration is not in itself sufficient. The political integration of the EU is just as compelling because it must be governed and regulated by institutions endowed with sufficient power so that democratically elected governments are not helpless when facing large multinational corporations. It also a requires sharing defence and foreign affairs policies, providing for the security of the EU’s external borders within which free movement of people, goods, services and capital is assured, promoting a (partial) fiscal harmonisation allowing for solidarity induced financial transfers in exchange for a fully assumed shared budgetary discipline as well as implementing, throughout the whole of the area, technical standards for promising local innovations and beeing able to impose them worldwide to reap the commensurate benefits.
If EU Member States fail to recognise the importance of these challenges, the most enterprising and innovative among the young will continue to expatriate themselves. Simultaneously, the immigration pressure caused by either climatic, political or economic factors will intensify. It is vital to allow and encourage young entrepreneurs to create jobs here in Europe and help the integration of these migrants whose presence is necessary to finance the exploding costs relating to the ageing of the European population.
The younger generation must secure a dominant position in the media sphere so as to bring their full weight to bear on the political process. Their aspirations should be at the heart of political programs which should aim at providing a vision for the future rather than clinging to vain attempts of preserving the “old world” order. When political candidates understand that they are tributary to the “youth vote” for their own future (re-election), then society will once again look to the future with greater confidence.
“Stand Up for Europe” must break out of its current mould to become a powerful movement which unifies and represents Europe’s youth: mobilising this constituency across the 28 Member States can create a “federal” political force which will induce national political parties to reform along similar lines if they wish to remain relevant both within and outside of their national borders.
The Council of “wise men” of the “Stand Up for Europe” movement, of which I am proud to be a member, can bring their support to such efforts. It is in this spirit that I advocated recently organising the “Encounters for European Youth”; I now realise that this initiative can only be one of the manifestations within a much larger and ambitious program.
The success of this appeal is squarely in the hands of the rising generation; that is why I reiterate my call to all young people: “Stand up for Europe!”
Paul N. Goldschmidt
Director, European Commission (ret.); Member of the Steering Committee of the Thomas More Institute
Member of the Advisory Council of “Stand Up for Europe”.
We will do it!