Key messages from the first European Young Leaders seminar in Paris are: think European but work trans-nationally, re-engage with European citizens yet look beyond Europe’s borders. They are contained in a report that coincides with the March 1-2 European Council.
The European Young Leaders ‘40 under 40’ programme by EuropaNova and Friends of Europe promotes a European identity by engaging 40 of the European Union’s brightest young minds from a wide range of backgrounds.
A plethora of ideas were thrown up during three days but there was also a sense that European integration and cooperation has reached its limits and needs a major overhaul, with six priority areas for the ‘40 under 40’.
- A break-up of the eurozone is no solution for Europe’s problems, but a rethink – or at least repair of Europe’s economic and social models is needed. The financial crisis means exploring new ways of stimulating growth and competitiveness. Fiscal federalism and a reinforcement of the Single Market are two clear paths.
- A greater focus on corporate social responsibility and ‘green growth’ make good business sense. Both demand global reciprocity and an avoidance of over-regulation.
- Greater European leadership must also embrace a truly common foreign policy and action, and the Arab Spring challenge is a constant reminder. Europe needs broader horizons and to be more open to its neighbours and to the rest of the world.
- Populism and nationalism need to be countered by greater emphasis on what local communities get out of European integration. The marginalising of minorities must be countered by forging a European identity that is inclusive.
- Modern advances in social media offer scope for increasing democratic participation and bridging the gap between citizens and their leaders, and keep the public engaged with European ideals. Most needed are ways to build up the transnational dimension of civic participation, democracy and politics.
- Broadening horizons means re-affirming the role of culture as a fundamental lever and a window onto values that can be shared in Europe and in the wider world. Like education, culture is not a cost but an investment.
A follow-up meeting of the ‘40 under 40’ European Young Leaders will take place in Brussels on 7-9 June to clarify ways of putting these ideas into practice.
The European Young Leaders: ‘40under40’ programme is a EuropaNova and Friends of Europe initiative that finds its roots in American leadership programmes aiming to create a new generation of European opinion leaders. The ‘40under40’ is composed of 40 talented individuals under the age of 40 with varied backgrounds and European nationalities. They are selected according to specific criteria to take part in a series of bi-annual meetings to collectively reflect on and generate proposals for a European Renaissance.
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