It was on 9th May 1950 when French foreign affairs minister, Robert Schuman, made his famous declaration to create a new supranational community that might serve peace worldwide: the European Union. What once was called the European Coal and Steel Community is today a wider project which includes benefits for all the people living within it. However, EU citizens are very reluctant to understand such benefits, mostly because these are not tangible and often given for granted.
The economic and social crisis spreading in our continent is making people more and more critical about EU. It's a fact. Germany is seen as the austerity monster. Southern Europeans are blamed of laziness. In the euro-skeptical UK an anti-EU party shakes London politics, while Italian Beppe Grillo's movement makes civil society in the country be represented by a comedian. Greece is on the ragged edge, with its economy quite devastated, beyond the election of Neo-Nazis in their Parliament. Youth unemployment is set to rise again and next generations will probably not enjoy the rights and benefits experienced by older generations. As a matter of fact, EU could be perceived as a disaster, though everybody knows it is not like that. Especially rising populism.
The Schuman Declaration
But how can we explain to younger generations like mine Europe is not just a common currency, an internal market or the Erasmus exchange program? How can we prove EU is not just a bureaucratic monster forbidding food like intestines (a delicious dish for the Greeks) or imposing chocolate recipe to some industries? Communications, in this case, really matters: EU should show its tangible benefits. The story that the once famously belligerent Europe has been at peace for more than 60 years thanks to the EU has overcome. A new argument should now be put on the table. A restructuring of EU institutions, a more prominent role of the Parliament and its legislative bodies together with more integration in terms of speaking with a single voice are the Union's next top priorities.
I will not argue on wether we need a bank union or eurobonds. These are certainly important topics but people do not perceive them as benefits. What people needs now is facts.
For this reason, 2013 Schuman Day should be dedicated to younger European citizens. Time has come to make them feel part of this game as the main actors of this great project. It is now their time to understand how can EU positively affect their daily lives. The fight against leaving young Europeans without a future is XXI century first challenge for our continent, whether the spread rises or not.
This year's Europe Day requires a big compromise for the next generations. All together, under the spirit of the Schuman Declaration, we have to find the solutions to get out of this economic, social and political crisis involving younger generations.