youth protests

S02 Ep. 01: Tunisia, from youth protests to diplomatic seduction

In January 2015, the Tunisian Embassy in Brussels welcomed for the evening the members of the Youth Professionals in Foreign Policy. This was a new stage in the vast charm offensive launched by the Ambassador Tahar Cherif since, the dictatorship regime fell and his arrival in Belgium two years ago.

Four years ago, young people took he streets of Tunisia demanding for change and economic fairness. Most of them were educated but out of a job, hence they had nothing to lose. But now that the young democracy has a newly elected President and House of representatives, how can they answer to those young people’s demand? If youth protests started it, the diplomatic corps intends to finish it.

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#EusprYng Episode 12: Sajjad Karim thinks it’s time for real change

Between May 22nd and May 25th 43% of Europeans of age and registered on national listings when to the voting both to elect their 751 representatives to the European parliament (EP). Those elections where run from Brussels under the slogan “why this time it’s different”? This week meet Sajjad Karim who is running for the presidency of the Euopean parliament and says that it really is time for change!

Now that Mr Juncker is the head of the European Commission another battle will take place between July 1st and 3rd in Strasbourg. During those days (or session) the 751 elected Members of the European parliament will “elect” their president for the next five years. Or to be accurate they will elect two presidents for a term of two years and a half. Usually the presidency seat is “shared” by the centre-right or EPP group and the Social-Democrats or S&D group.

But a wind of change seems to be blowing on the European parliament and candidates of other groups have come out of the woods, backed by they respective parties, and declared themselves candidates. The first of whom Dr Sajjad Karim.

Sajjad Karim, a British Tory (Conservatives party) Member of the European parliament (MEP) sitting with the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR), has been a very active MEP for the past ten years on the committee of legal affairs. A few weeks ago he decided to through his hat into the ring and challenge the usual EPP / S&D understanding when it comes to the presidency of the EP. He wants a reformed parliament that will address citizens concerns and the direction the European union is heading to.

According to him, the latest elections results, that allowed a significant number of Eurosceptics to enter the EP is a signal that should not be disregarded. Hence his campaign to try and stir up things from within the institution.One might ask but what is the point as the usual deal is already in motion? Well the point is that Karim decided to try and understand the signal voters sent. He decided to do something about it and decided that it was time for the EP to forget about its old ways! He want out and said it to any journalist and MEP that will listen, he even launched a Twitter campaign using #Yesitstime as its motto.

Basically Karim positioned himself as true European politician, some might even say a true European leader.

Do not hesitate to engage and debate with him on those issues via Twitter.

 

Viktor Yushchenko

#EusprYng Episode 11: Viktor Yushchenko on how young Ukrainians stood up for their future

The question #EusprYng asks is: is a European spring possible? Well, it seems that it can and it did but just outside of the Union’s borders in Ukraine.

This week Viktor Yushchenko, Ukrain’s former president and leader of the Orange Revolution is our special guest. He will tells us more about young Ukrainians and the events which took place last winter in Kiev, the capital, on the Independence Square or Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

On May 25th it was the European parliament elections but it was also election day in Ukraine were the Euromaidan protesters finally got what they wanted.The country is now led by a pro-European government and the country is once again under the 2004 Constitution and the Association Agreement is back on the table with parts of it already signed.

For that to happen a lot of people got injured and even lost their lives. It all started on November 21st 2013, when young people took the Independence Square or Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev also known since as Euromaidan. They decided to let Viktor Yanukovych, president of Ukraine at the time, know that they will not let him rob them of the possibility for their country to get closer to the European union financially and politically via an Association Agreement. Indeed, a few hours before that the president had decided to suspend all negotiations with the European Union regarding that Agreement as Vladimir Poutine, Russia’s president, was not going to “loose” a big country and client like Ukraine without a fight. At first the protest was peaceful but then on late November / early September things heated up when then the riot police was unleashed on unarmed protesters.

Viktor Yushchenko whom accessed the presidency of Ukraine under similar circumstances tells us more about the wind of change blowing on his country and how young people changed the course of their own lives and of others.

Here is a short presentation of the interview : click the link that will appear at the end to watch the first question. Mobile users: watch the videos here.

 

British characters

#EusprYng Episode 10: Meet our British characters

This week meet our British characters: Daniel Hamilton, the Businessman and Michael Sani, the Teacher

Daniel Hamilton, the Businessman

 

 

Daniel is 27 years old he’s from Manchester and and he spends his time between London and Brussels where he works for an international public relations firm. He is running for the Conservatives party in the North West region of the UK.

The European debate, when people actually talk about the EU, in the UK focuses more on what the European Union imposes (or not) to the subjects of Her Majesty and its possible exit from it, also know in the rest of Europe as the Brexit.

Daniel believes that the UK needs the EU. It needs it for the market and the economic force it represents. Daniel wants a European Union based on trade. A European Union that helps to break down commercial barriers for a smoother functioning of international trade .

As always do not hesitate to engage and debate with him about his vision on Twitter or Facebook.

Michael Sani, the teacher

 

Michael is 31 years old, he is one of the masterminds behind Bite the Ballot, an NGO that took it upon itself to help young British reinvest their political power. How does it do that? In three stages: first by actions in schools and on line, that encourage young people to register to vote. Then it encourages them to inform themselves about national and European politics through educational on line games, finally it makes them understand via on line campaigns that if they do not get involved in politics, politicians will not really take them into consideration when drafting policies that have an impact on their lives.

Engage and debate with Mike and other members of the Bite the Ballot via social networks.

French characters

#EusprYng Episode 9: Meet our French characters

This week meet our French characters: Caroline De Haas, the feminist and Regis Pradal, the intern.

Caroline De Haas, the feminist

Caroline is 33 years old, she is our French political character. She leads the list of “Féministes pour une Solidaire” (FPES) roughly translated as Feminists for a Europe of Solidarity. She worked and campaigned  for a large left Party in France for years. A few weeks ago, she decided  to resign from her, rather comfortable position with them, and lead her own list into the European parliament elections battle. Caroline fights for equal rights for women and men and women’s right to freely dispose of their bodies.

But to start a few weeks before elections day without being an established party with strong financial resources is both courageous and difficult. FPES lists largely depend on donations. The other big challenge for Caroline and her party will be to be able to distribute their ballots in polling stations across France. Indeed, in the European elections it falls upon the lists to provide potential voters with a ballot with their name on it.

Feel free to engage with Caroline on the situation of women in Europe and the political program of her list.

Regis, the intern

Regis is 27 years old, he is a former trainee turned social entrepreneur. While doing his internship at the European Parliament in 2013, Regis realised that even the great democratic institutions do not pay their interns. So a year ago he organised a “sandwich protest”, the only food unpaid interns can afford, in front of the European Parliament in Brussels to denounce the difficult conditions under which he and others were doing their internships. A few months later with the help of two other interns he transformed shameless internship conditions into an idea of social enterprise, Internsgopro was born.

In 2014, despite the highest level of education in human history, young Europeans find little quality internships. Or at least internships that will allow them to get expected experience from future employers and/or internships that will allow them to pay for crazy things like food and housing! Intersgopro therefore offers students, graduates and young unemployed people the possibility to evaluate on line, and in a public manner, the quality of their training, to find training offers and quality jobs across Europe.

Feel free to engage with Régis and participate in the development of a pan-European quality label for internships.

Belgian characters

#EusprYng Episode 8: Meet our Belgian characters

This week meet our Belgian characters: Saïd El Khadraoui, the experienced one, Member of the European Parliement since 2004, and Michel Cermark, the altermondialist, of “Collectif Roosevelt.be”

Saïd El Khadraoui, the experienced one

 

 

Saïd is our political character. He is 38 years old, he is already a Member of the European Parliament for the Party of European Socialists. Yes he is a little bit older than the other characters, but to tell you the truth it is really hard to find Members of the European Parliament from “classical” parties under 40 years old in the Old Old Europe (i.e. the countries covered so far). Plus he was elected for the first time when he was 28 years old so it is fine! He is now running for a third term.

In the European parliament Saïd seats on the transport committee. What is a committee you ask? Well a committee is composed of 24 to 76 Members of the European parliament (MEPs). It is during those committees meetings, that take place once or twice a month in Brussels, that legislations proposed by the European Commission, called directives, are remodelled. MEPs seat on Committees as it is supposed to be more efficient to work with a small number of people than with the whole Parliament. MEPs work on those directives and then present their work (rapport) during the plenary sessions to the whole Parliament which then votes to adopt or to reject them.

Do not hesitate to engage and debate with him.

Michel Cermark, the altermondialist

 

 

Michel is our civil society activist. He is the spokesperson and chair of  Collectif Roosevelt in Belgium. He is 28 years old and got involved with Collectif Roosevelt about a year ago. Collectif Roosevelt is a grass-roots organisation that promotes 15 measures that could get the European Union out of the ongoing crisis and prevent others to come if applied.

He strongly believes that the current crisis is one of deregulated capitalism and that multinationals are benefiting of the non-harmonised fiscal laws of the Member States. He fights for a European Union for its citizens and not only for its companies which for him starts with fiscal and social harmonisation.

Do not hesitate to share your views and debate with him.

EuDebate2014 candidates commission presidency

#EusprYng Episode 7: Young people organised the first EU presidential debate

On April 28th on the initiative of  the Youth Forum, Euronews hosted the first EU presidential debate of the history of the European Union in Maastricht. As you might know (or not) this year the President of the European Commission will not be designated by the heads of States of Member States behind closed doors, in fact scratch that, it will still be done behind closed doors but this time they will have to take into account the results of the European parliament elections. All of that thanks to the infamous Lisbon Treaty, the what?! The Lisbon Treaty, you know the one that was whipped up after France and the Netherlands citizens voted no via referendum to the first Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. So in some way it is the European citizens that are going to designate the next European Commission, if things go to plan, because let’s be honest heads of states have this ridiculous  (some may say disgusting) of doing whatever they want when it comes to the European level and then blame it on the EU as if they were not part of the decision made. Anyway, if they do respect this disposition of the Treaty and do not decide that the citizens did not understand the question your vote should have a considerable weight on who is going to replace José Manuel Durão Barroso, the current President.

But who are the candidates?

They are five but only four attended the debate. Some say Alexis Tsipras did not attend because he did not want to debate in English. That evening were on the stage:

A debate about youth?

As the theme of the debate was youth, although it was only during the first third of the evening, after the debate #EusprYng asked them what they would do on their first day on the job for young Europeans and here is what they said.

 

 (Mobile users: see all our Eu Debate videos here)

Just so we are clear the European Union has limited competence when it come to fighting unemployment or youth issues. Meaning that it is mainly the member States that has power over how to fight youth unemployment or when it comes to higher education policies. But a few months ago the European institutions decided to implement the Youth Guarantee. It is only funded with 6 billion € which is not much when youth unemployment rates are up to 60 % in countries like Spain or Greece. Basically Member States have to set up a plan to provide young people under 25 years old with training or a job within four months after they have finished school or after they became unemployed. How can Member States do that it’s beyond me but one can argue that it is already something but let’s be honest it is enterprises that create jobs not governments or institutions.

Let us know what you think about the answers the candidate #EursprYng on what they would do on their first day in office and about the youth guarantee scheme.

euspryng episode 06 captain europe

#EusprYng Episode 6: It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Captain Europe

Do I have a special treat for you this week!

Meet with a very special guest: Captain Europe. And YES before you scratch your head too hard wondering he DOES exist and NO I did not come up with the idea! Although I would have loved to!

He stands for justice, democracy and…solidarity something other superheroes (i.e. from the United States) don’t really know (care?!) about, according to him.

He defends citizens and the European model and NO he does not work for a communication branch of the European institutions!

So sit back, relax and enjoy!

Ooh one last thing… Captain Europe is a 21st century superhero. So you do not need a 15×10 meters sign or to be falling off a building screaming for your life to contact him! Just use Twitter

Do not hesitate to engage and debate with him! But please please do not talk about the European parliament security guards!

German characters

#EusprYng Episode 3: Meet our German characters

This week meet our German characters:

Terry Reintke, the poli-activist

She’s our political character for Germany. Terry is 26 years old, the former spokesperson for the Young Greens and number 9 on the Greens’ list in Germany.

She believes that young people should of course vote for the next European parliament elections (#EP2014) but she also thinks that it shouldn’t prevent us from taking the streets as well! This is an unusual way of thinking for someone who’s been engaged in politics for more than ten years! What  is even more unusual is that she is running for a big party! This makes her our own poli-atictivist! (political activist)

Find out more about her and her program on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter @TerryReintke, post on her Facebook page to engage, debate and ask her what she can do to help young Europeans! Come on now don’t be shy and #TerryOn!

Terry Reintke, la poli-activiste

Elle est notre personnage politique pour l’Allemagne. Terry a 26 ans, elle est l’ancienne porte-parole pour les Jeunes Verts et en neuvième position sur la liste des Verts en Allemagne. Elle souhaite que les jeunes européens aillent voter lors des prochaines élections du Parlement mais elle veut également qu’ils investissent les rues! Ce qui est une façon de penser assez particulière pour une personne politique appartenant à un gros parti et qui plus est engagée en politique depuis plus de 10 ans. Cela fait d’elle notre poli-activist ! Une politique activiste.

Pour en savoir plus à son sujet et son programme visitez son site web. Vous pouvez également la suivre sur Twitter @TerryReintke, lui laisser des messages sur sa page Facebook afin de débattre avec elle et lui demander ce qu’elle compte faire pour aider concrètement les jeunes européens. N’ayez pas peur de l’interpeller #TerryOn !

Cherian Grundmann, the true believer

Cherian got engaged in political discussions on Facebook in 2011. At that time he was part of a group discussing the European Union and the crisis that had been going on for three years and its consequences. Later he co-founded One Europe, with Ivan Botoucharov, an on line platform made by European citizens for European citizens to talk and exchange views on the European project. He wants a more open and democratic Europe. He truly believes in the European project and in letting all citizens be part of its construction. If you also think that Europeans should exchange points of views on the European project you can visit One Europe’s website and participate in their crowdfunding campaign that lasts until April 1st.
Do not miss the opportunity to engage and talk about the European project with Cherian and all the team of One Europe! Debate and exchange point of views with an incredibly devoted and active team on Facebook and Twitter @One1Europe.

Cherian Grundmann, le fervent défenseur

Cherain Grundmann commence à s’intéresser à la politique européenne en 2011 sur Facebook. A cette époque il fait partie d’un groupe qui parle de la crise qui touche l’Union européenne depuis trois ans. Plus tard, il devient l’un des co-fondateurs de One Europe, avec Ivan Botoucharov, une plateforme de débat en ligne qui traite de l’Union européenne, faite par des citoyens européens pour les citoyens européens. Il se bat pour une Union européenne plus ouverte et démocratique. Il croit dans le projet européen et au fait que chaque citoyen doit être associé à sa construction.

Afin de maintenir son projet en vie il conduit actuellement une campagne de crowdfunding ou financement participatif, jusqu’au 1er avril. Si vous aussi vous pensez que le projet européen doit être discuté entre citoyens alors n’hésitez pas à le soutenir !

Engagez également le débat avec lui, toute la jeune équipe de One Europe et d’autres citoyens européens sur Facebook et Twitter @One1Europe.

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#EusprYng Episode 2: Daniel Cohn-Bendit wants to kick back and see what happens…

This week’s update is a little bit special as it’s not about one of EusprYng’s main characters.
No this week I have a special treat for you: an interview with Daniel Cohn-Bendit. He represents in a way both sides of this web-documentary. He started out as an activist in the streets of Paris in May 1968 and then he entered the European political arena where he stayed for the past 20 years. But this May, European politics will say farewell to one of its truest believer as he will not be on the lists of the Green party this year or even ever… He says he is too old for that now!

It seemed significant enough to start with his video. Because in a sense he embodies the spirit of EusprYng: the street facing the political system.

But if you know Daniel Cohn-Bendit you know he will not go without a bang! In this interview we talk about the upcoming European parliament elections, Radical left opposition leader and runner up for the European Commission presidency Alexis Tsipras and his party SYRIZA, and of course the possibility of a European sprYng.

In this interview Daniel Cohn-Bendit takes the example of Greece opting out of the Euro currency. More specifically, he talks about a Memorandum, which is the document (several in fact) that Greece had to sign and that forces the Greek government(s) among other things to cut civil servants pay. In exchange Greece receives money “from” the Troika i.e. the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In order to refresh your memory or to know more about that subject you can read the articles below. And if you really can’t get enough of that stuff you can also visit the official websites of the European Commission and the IMF (links also below).

Articles from The Guardian & The Economist

Link to a Wikipedia article:

Links to the European Commission official website:

Links to the IMF official website:

Do not hesitate to engage with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the main characters of EusprYng or me using social networks and this website.

Enjoy!