I grasped the press release yesterday via Twitter from Jon Worth. The issue: The European Union Youth Orchestra (euyo) is forced to quit its musical activities by September 01st 2016. As you can read in the press release from the euyou itself this action is due to lacking ongoing financial support from the European Union. You can find a lot of background information, project aims and historical details about the euyo on their website.
This is how Europe is created successfully – education & sharing
To be honest I didn’t know that we even have a European Union Youth Orchestra. But that says not much. I am convinced that this project had a sustainable effect on building Europe from the bottom – a citizens’ project. Bringing young people from all over Europe together to work and cooperate together is the best how way you can build this European Union successfully. That is what we do in non-formal European youth education all year long. Offer the chance and opportunity to young people to discover Europe in a vivid way by meeting each other in a contextual framework. Sharing and discovering where are other Europeans are different and finding out that there is not that much that separates us. It is the best investment in Europe’s future. The missing emotional approach of building the future of the EU is something we all complain about for years. Nothing was really successful. The enlargement policy made the EU bigger but not more loved, the Euro and the Schengen area are very well appreciated but it is nothing that make the young people fall in love with Europe and peace is taken for granted. It’s the meeting of other people, the networking and the sharing that matter. Creating something together, working on a joint project and solving a problem together, that is how we should build the EU in the 21st century.
Change the approach – shifting money
Go on and trash all the glossy brochures and materials that explain the EU and that should encourage (young) citizens to get involved in the European project. It is boring, boring and even more boring.
Yes, it is true that the current Erasmus+ project generation got much more money than in previous budgets. But the reality is (and that is a good sign) that projects have to be voted down because more project apply for the funding. A good sign because more projects are generated and handed in by an active European civil society (don’t get me wrong there is still more space to be filled in). But the consequence is that the threshold for successful applications has increased in that way that many more applications have to be rejected. Transfer the money and make it even more possible that education and cultural projects can be implemented. You’ll harvest the profit probably with time delay but it will come for sure in the long run. Have you ever talked to someone who took part in student exchange, in the European Voluntary Service or who was a participant in a European youth exchange? And have you also talked to someone who have read plenty of the material from a Europe Direct (information service) or from the different press centres of the European Union? Guess whose heart burns for Europe and the European idea? Moreover, if the political will would be there to find money for the euyo the money would be available in seconds.
Counterproductive project funding
The big shift in funding by the EU is another big hurdle. I agree that most of the funding have to be realised as project based. But this is connected to a huge workload for the applicant and you cannot work reliable over years as you always start from scratch with every new project without having the security to get the money for the work you do. Their might be fraud in the past with money passed on by budget lines and that is why project based funding is an alternative. I guess you have to see this also with the eyes of the European Commission who always have to clarify where the money is going and why and how effective it is. But speaking about some lighthouse projects the European Union should guarantee that those projects will get the financial support without handing in applications every single year. Sure, also these projects have to proof the added-value and the long-term effects for Europe and document the activities in a transparent way. Projects like the European Union Youth Orchestra, Charlemagne Youth Prize, European Network of Europe Houses for civil society projects on Europe just two name three should work on a long-term basis with financial predictability. Let them shine and infect others with their European spirit.
I can only urge you to reconsider the decision and safe the European Youth Orchestra for the future and the good development of the EU.