How the young can press the EU’s reset button

, by Vincent Venus

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

How the young can press the EU's reset button

The European Union is broken and needs an urgent fix – before its enemies are elected to power. As the EU and national leaders are too afraid to tackle the EU’s fundamental flaws, the youth must lead the way.

The European Union in 2017 bears at least one similarity to a flat-share: upon first enthusiastically moving in, its members enjoy all the benefits of living together in shared responsibility, but as the numbers joining climbs, cracks appear and the poor construction quality became apparent. One housemate has already moved out, others threaten to do the same and while most of the tenants cannot agree on how to renovate the house, the rats are nibbling away at its foundation.

The European Union has a poor base

There are several reasons why the EU is unable to live up to its promise. But the most important one is its bad foundation. Three symptoms illustrate this:

  • Normal citizens (including many journalists) do not understand how the EU works because its designers made sure to organise everything in a manner different to that of nation-states and then excused their mess with the term “sui generis”.
  • Decision-makers at the European level often act against the interests of the EU because they are elected by national electorates and hence held accountable only by national public.
  • Foreign powers can divide and rule Europe in several fields because each of its nation states still has its own foreign policy.

Right and left wingers point out these symptoms for their agenda of destruction – and more and more citizens are listening to them. At one point, they will have convinced the majority that the EU is a failure.

The European Union needs a fix

We who are in favour of European integration need to define an agenda of a positive future for Europe. Our promise: a fixed EU will be able to deliver for its people.

Various scenarios for such a fix exist, but only one tackles the fundamental flaws:

  1. Invite all EU member states who want to further integrate to a convention.
  2. Let the representatives of politics and society work out a constitution giving the new EU powers to influence its citizens’ lives for the better.
  3. Involve citizens throughout and eventually ask them whether they want the fixed, more democratic and powerful EU – or the old, broken one (the 2019 European Parliament elections would be a good occasion for this referendum).

Several thinkers have demanded such a European Convention: philosopher Jürgen Habermas, Euro-rebel Yanis Varoufakis, economist Thomas Piketty or federalist MEP Sylvie Goulard.

Unfortunately, those with governmental powers do not have the guts. Of course, they can afford their “carry on but do nothing” mentality as Europe will likely not fall apart until the end of their terms, when those nice sunset years of public pensions in Europe’s south are awaiting them.

No one has the courage for a convention but the youth

We, the youth, however, can’t afford to wait. Sooner or later a broken EU will lead to its enemies being elected into governments – and then there will be no Europe left to spend our sunset years in.

We need to fix the European Union. And as long as we are not in power we have to pressure those in power. The best way? By proving that a European Convention is feasible.

In order to do so, the Young European Federalists, the largest pro-European youth organisation, has invited representatives of various youth NGOs to the European Youth Convention (EYC) in Strasbourg. From 9 to 12 March 2017 they will work hard to identify where the EU must change, define how it should change and elect who will pressure for it to change – the EYC Ambassadors.

Together, these youth representatives will turn Strasbourg into the birthplace of the founding generation of a better Europe.

Representatives of democratic youth NGOs can apply at the European Youth Convention’s website (link to All types of youth NGOs are invited to apply, including non-political entities, unions, social and religious organizations and so forth. Participation fees are only 40 Euro and include accommodation, most meals as well as a travel-reimbursement up to 100 Euro.
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