Post update in italics:
As this blog post produces high traffic on my blog (original post still below available) and was read in the last months very often I would like to update the topic. I had the chance to talk to an high profile MEP responsible for education in the European Parliament. I tackled her with exact the content of this post and obviously the situation is not so desperate as it seems back in July. She told me that the EP and also the Council Ministers are very much in favour of an independent European youth programm YOUTH IN ACTION. That is pretty good for the future prospects and the policy towards the EU youth programme. Back in May on of the top representatives in Germany for NGO education centers said to me, that he do not believe in a future youth programme not included in a broader education programme under one roof. As it seems time has changed and the European Commission has very strong opponents – the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Let’s hope that even the Commission will finally accept that no matter what is the greater goal via “Europe 2020” the importance to continue with an independent YOUTH IN ACTION programme is even more important – keep raising your voice, nothing is achieved yet!
Many experts have seen this coming. Now we can read it black on white: the European Commission has presented its proposal for the MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework) 2014 – 2020 (Part I + Part II) and sacks an independent EU youth programme.
Everything what is written there has the spirit of being based on economic thoughts. The EC just keeps in mind its very own strategy “Europe 2020“. That strategy is based on the goal to bring people into jobs, reduce unemployment, raise R&D, act on climate change and fight poverty and social exclusion. Well, all these goals are dignified and you can just agree with them. But: what this strategy does not imply is that human development is the top priority.
I guess the EC needs verified facts like the total numbers of people in employment or a reduced drop-out rate from school. That is good if achieved but what this approach lacks is the continuation of the very successful EU programme YOUTH in Action to empower young people for the challenges of a united Europe and a globalised world. As the YOUTH in Action programme is a very small programme the visibility might be not so obvious to the EC. What the EC should do very urgent is to read all the papers and statistics about the success of the YOUTH in Action programme.
Even if young people do graduate or when they move during their studies in Europe that says nothing about the development of the people itself or their readiness for the job market. Here the independent EU youth programme has more to offer than other programmes. Mobility is realised already when the youngsters are at school. The experiences gained at this time of their life is far more character building than every Erasmus trip which brings students for their first time abroad. Moreover youngsters gain many, many social and intercultural competencies which will affect their whole life and make them even more ready for the job market than anything else. What I’m not going to discuss this time is the effect on European citizenship. The young people being active in the YOUTH in Action programme build an emotional link to Europe. They do know more about the EU and even if critical about some policies of the EU they are convinced Europeans who see the need to fight for European unity and the development of a better Europe closer to the citizens.
The EC is complaining that the “current architecture of the programmes and instruments is fragmented. They have been characterised by a proliferation of small-scale projects and some of them lack the critical mass to have a long lasting impact. There are also some overlaps between actions – this has led to increased management costs and has confused potential applicants” and “therefore, the Commission proposes to rationalise and simplify the current structure by proposing a single, integrated programme on education, training and youth” (quote from p.17/18 of Part I, link see on the top).
Well, if you have a very successful and sustainable EU youth programme you should better start talking good about it and promote it and give more money to it to develop it even more. Instead the EC acts “rational” and builds one huge programme where nobody will see the impact and the output. I promise that this programme will be supersized and the people who complain about unrealistic Brussels-centered policy making will be afloat again. Smaller and specialised programmes are far more effective and will reach the goals set out with greater guaranty.
In Part II (p.29) the EC confirms it opinion by saying “concretely, the programme will comprise three main lines of action: (1) Trans-national learning mobility – as many as 800,000 EU citizens, mainly students, could be helped to be mobile each year.”
Why are they talking about students, mainly? As I indicated before the ship will have sailed a long time ago. Obviously students gain from their time abroad no question but why wait until people are over twenty. You will get open-minded, critical citizens with people skills and intercultural empathy when you invest in them when they are between 13 and 20.
We do need experts and highly qualified young people. Economic competition will rise not only within Europe bus also with other regions in the world especially with China. As we as Europe lack a lot of natural resources the only thing we could and should develop to prevail are the people (I know that is politicians’ language – but still true). If that is common sense please act to this recognition. The worse thing you can do about it is to concentrate only on getting people a school diploma or let students travel through Europe.
An independent EU youth programme with non-formal learning approach will have more positive support to “Europe 2020” then the EC is obviously thinking. Revise your decision, it’s not too late!