A few weeks ago Nobel Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus was in Brussels. He accepted to sit down with #EusprYng to speak about youth unemployment in Europe and how the whole concept of “wanting to get a job” is wrong. According to the PhD in economy and father of microcredit, human beings and young ones in particular are creative and full of potential. A potential they/we should not waste on taking orders from someone else. On the contrary each and every one of us should come up with a business idea and then try to make it happen with the support of the society we live in. But see that is the tricky part, because if Pr Yunus could set up a structure that can help young people make their business idea true, in Bangladesh, unfortunately in Europe it is very difficult, not to say practically impossible for a youngster to get funds from a public institution not to say a bank to launch its own business. But I believe the Professor has a point. Why should we all be job seekers when we, or at least some of us, could be jobs creators? Why should we “settle” for helping a big (or medium company) get where it needs when we could apply our talents to create and grow something we believe in. Obviously not everybody wants to be his/her own boss or even be in charge of other people means of living. But since #EusprYng started he is the only one who stated such an idea and I believe it’s worth thinking about!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Dario Castañé, the Pirate
Dario Castañe is 28 years old he’s from Barcelona in Cataluña and number one on the list for the Confederación Pirata in Spain. He works as a system administrator (i.e. computer geek, well he’s a Pirate after all!) and during his free time he likes to create websites to spread information about politics, free culture and tools to improve the world. He’s also a Twitter addict so don’t hesitate to engage with him on the social media!
According to him, Member States of the European Union need to cooperate more instead of competing with each other. He feels like by bringing together different views and turning those into viable policies, Member States can tackle EU’s main issues. “The EU’s spirit fits this feeling and works towards it”. He envisions the United States of Europe as a common project to improve the world.
He was always interested in politics as he grew up reading newspapers and magazines, learning about society and its issues. But he really jumped into it four years ago when his mother got sick and saw for himself how the system (social & political) in Spain wasn’t working for her. He then joined the Pirate party in Cataluña. He choose that party because… well he likes being a Pirate! On the serious side of things, it’s because they have the kind of internal democracy other parties don’t. Plus he believes that “traditional” parties are more interested in peoples’ vote than in their voice or solving their everyday problems.
He’s our pirate!
Luis Cereijo, the Lobbyist
Luis Cereijo is 27 years old and a student in Spain. He was elected chairperson of CREUP, the Spanish Students Union, last February. Before that he was elected president of his University’s Local Union, in Alcalá University. He decided to run for Students’ representative positions because he wanted “to change things, to try to cooperate [with other universities] and make a better university in my city, my region and my country”. According to him “now, it’s time for commitment, it’s not the time to sit still at home but time to speak up and to fight!”.
CREUP represents the 800,000 students of the Spanish Public Universities. It stands for students rights and finding ways to improve the public university system. CREUP is also part of the European Students Union or ESU (lien). As such they are going to lobby candidates from all political parties running for the European parliament elections and ask them to pledge to their “Vote for Education” manifesto.
Spain has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the Eurozone. Despite that fact there have been major budget cuts in education, grants and social services for young people. And over the past three years while university fees doubled! Those cuts pushed many young Spaniards to leave their country to try and find better living conditions elsewhere in Europe and the world.
“We young people” from Spain, declares Luis, “we are not willing to give up on our future […] and our dreams”.
He’s our lobbyist!
If you had the opportunity to hear the propaganda around the European Parliament elections, to be held on May 22 or May 25 depending on the country, you probably already know that the punch line this year is: “this time, it’s different”.
Indeed, under the new Lisbon Treaty (yes I know I’m getting technical!) when Heads of States and Governments will choose the new president of the European Commission, yes if you didn’t know it, it is they whom in fact nominate the Head of the institution and therefore choose its political colour, well they will have to take into consideration the result of the European parliament elections! What a joy…
This means that if the left gets the most seats in the Parliament, the President of the Commission will be / should be “awarded” to the candidate presented by the left, or more specifically in our case, to the group of the Socialists & Democrats or S&D like the cool kids say! But what’s a group you say?!
A political group in the European Parliament is composed of at least twenty-five members from a quarter of the Member States of the European Union. For 28 countries it means 7, just so you’re clear.
The candidate for the Socialists & Democrats group is the current President of the European Parliament, the German Martin Schultz.
Meanwhile, the centre-right or EPP group has Jean-Claude Juncker. He is the former Prime Minister of the Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg and former President of the Eurogroup also my former personal hero… Yes the crisis destroyed more than jobs, but let’s stay on point.
The youngest candidate presented by a group is our guest this week, the German Ska Keller. But as the Greens believe in dual leadership, she is part of a ticket with José Bové a French Member of the European parliament. Two for one! But is that really sustainable?!
And if you have no idea who you are going to vote for take this quick but efficient quiz. It will tell you (almost) everything you need to know before going to the voting booth.
This week meet our German characters:
Terry Reintke, the poli-activist
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 !
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: