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:
- Ska Keller, the candidate for the European Greens. She is already a Member of the European parliament. As she is the youngest candiadte running for a group #EusprYng met her and you can hear more about what she has to say here;
- Jean-Claude Juncker for the centre-right European People’s Party. He is the former Prime minister of Luxembourg and former President of the Euro group;
- Martin Schulz, current president of the European parliament is the candidate for the European Socialist Party (PES);
- Guy Verhosfstadt for the Liberals (ALDE). He’s the leader of the Liberals group in the European parliament and was the Prime Minister of Belgium.
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.