EU Citizenship:  Let’s Move Forward

It is more necessary than ever that the EU citizenship becomes something to which the citizens are
able to relate to. Something tangible: rights. Making the EU citizenship true doesn’t mean getting rid
of any national citizenship, yet to upgrade our lives as citizens to a sphere – the European
citizenship – where rights are better protected: a multi-level framework where one can only find
its rights enhanced and never diminished. The social pact should therefore be re-written to close the gap between the citizens and the institutions. But where to start from?

The EU already carries out projects that could become the forerunners of a structural system that
helps rooting the EU citizenship. The EU is standing at a crossroads, ready to improve the social
dimension of the Union as shown in the efforts of putting forward the European Pillar of Social
Rights, and education should have a primary role in this. The commitment of national and regional
governments is essential in this regard.

Erasmus + is the champion among these EU programmes and while it remains a paramount
programme for the European youth, it can be widespread beyond the scope of education.
Nonetheless, while it still remains focused on students, it must be strengthened into also include the
not-so- qualified-workers from the EU sphere of rights and opportunities, not limiting their
possibilities to move and work in different EU countries. In this regard, we believe that Erasmus +

should be reformed as to also include the working force, through an intense involvement of the
European Trade Unions and the European networks of the national business federations as to create
exchanges of professionals just as it happens for the students. Therefore, we propose that the post
2020 Multiannual Financial Framework entails a specific programme for workers in the Erasmus+
budget. Meanwhile, the pilot projects that encourage the inclusion of more people, especially the
young ones who can’t access the programmes today for economic and/or social reasons, in the
mobility programmes shall be prioritised. This means that we must focus on creating the
fundamental conditions for everyone to participate in Erasmus+ programmes, regardless of their
economic background.

If on the one hand we support those programmes and projects that facilitate a better understanding
of the EU institutions and actively promote European citizenship and identity, on the other hand we
cannot but claim that more people have the actual possibility to be vocal and communicate with the
institutions.

The Future of Europe should be funded on a better, steady dialogue between the citizens and the
EU institutions. In this regard, YES supports the role that the EP has been playing to democratize the
decision-making process and overcome national disagreements for the benefit of the European
interests. On the contrary, the Council keeps halting policies and debates, forgetting that we chose
to be a Union exactly to overcome together major issues, and not only to formalise an arena where
to argue. Above all, while the EP is supported by a clear democratic process, being the only EU
institutions whose members are directly elected by the people, the Council keeps trying to preserve
national prerogatives even when the Lisbon Treaty clearly paves the way for a more integrated
approach.

In order to give the further legitimacy to the EP we have to ensure that EU elections are not third
order elections with turnout constantly falling since 1979. Again there is a series of centralised action
taken by the EP, but as youth organisation we recognise our role in the process and will work
actively on better promotion of the EU on national and regional level.

The economic institutions cannot be exonerated by this reasoning. The YES-IUSY joint Political
Economy working group has been developing important proposals to democratize the EU economic
institutions. The European Central Bank should be reformed, first of all, to include “full employment”
among its targets. The European Union, and particularly the Eurozone, is about creating more
opportunity and expanding the sphere of freedom, rather than restricting it. Instead, the budget
rules established by the Stability and Growth Pact have restricted the ability of governments to have
strongly expansionist fiscal stances, and in so doing have prolonged the misery brought about by
economic slumps.
It is harmful and malaise to reduce the will of European citizens to believe in a brighter future –  to
believe in the basic principle that diversity makes us stronger if we stick together. Even when it
may look obvious why staying united is better than falling apart, it becomes more and more difficult
to convince the citizens of it, especially the young ones. It is becoming rare to state with no angry
retort that in a globalised world a single state of Europe could never represent more than a distant
echo in an aggressive international arena, while the EU as a whole can better represent the values
and interests of our region. The region itself became an abstract concept – where the founding
values of our community are not uniting the population in the face of terrorist attacks or
protectionism, but rather are being questioned to their very core.
YES has always fought against this tendency. We do so by our educational activities, our summer
camps and discussions in our democratically elected bodies. Today, we decide to go wider and to
involve as many voices as possible in our call: it’s the call for the future of Europe.

 

This is the fifth blog post of our Future of Europe Network: we have launched a call for
contributions and we are pinpointing our key priorities for the Future of Europe. We aim at going
beyond a good will to “Reform Europe”, we want to discuss realistic actions and solutions and use
the network and structures that YES managed to build in last 25 years in order to fight for them.
Please feel free to join the discussion!
Write an e-mail to elisa.gambardella@youngsocialists.eu to get involved!

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