October 14, 2017
Many of you, my readers, are cosmopolitans. By the age of 27, I had lived for at least a month in 12 cities of 5 European countries. Yet, in 2013, only 30% of Europeans have crossed their border!! 350 Million Europeans only met other Europeans as tourists, coming to visit them.
Many Europeans do not know what the Union has given them. They do not see the European dimension in their lives. We have partly made Europe, but still have to make Europeans. The #BEcomingEU initiative of the Belgian section of the European Federalists (UEF) proposes that every European, at the age of 18, can travel for one or two months in another Member State of the Union to undertake a project for his life. She would receive from the Commission up to €1000 for an internship, voluntary work, associative or artistic activities, a linguistic exchange, etc… The aim is to enable young people, even the less privileged, to meet and discover that stereotypes are often false.
Covered by different existing programs, the above activities are not accessible to ALL Europeans. Inspired by the European Parliament (EP) project of giving an InterRail card to many young people, this initiative could be launched by the European Parliament in 2018.
We at UEF.be propose that, in 2018, a Parliamentary initiative of €10 million will initially allow 10,000 Europeans to live, develop their networks, launch an activity or work with other Europeans. Eventually, a whole new generation of Europeans will see allies and friends in other nationalities, not competitors or foreigners. United in Diversity. Buckle-up, pse launch a protest song, for example Tears For Fears “Shout”, for a 6’30” ride.
Europeans are still to make
The growth of the single market, the increased mobility of Europeans and, let’s not forget, the 2008 crisis have doubled the number of Europeans living abroad. But only from 8 in 2008 to 16 million in 2016. Our compilation of official statistics shows that, in 2016, only 10% of Europeans had direct experience of living, training or working abroad. Even counting the 9 million Erasmus and cross-border commuters, they are not more than 50 million in total. And, in 2013, less than a third of Europeans have spent a day abroad1. In 2013, 70% of Europeans did not cross their border and knew other Europeans only from TV or tourists. Europe is abroad and, Brussels, a faraway capital.
The Erasmus programme, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is one of the few actions cited by 50% of Europeans as an example of a positive initiative by the Union. It has mainly benefited university students (less than 30% of young people) and only some 300.000 young Europeans have an Erasmus each year. Europe needs to benefit ALL Europeans.
An InterRail pass, but not for all young people
Launched in 2014 by two German activists, Herr and Speer, a 2016 EP parliamentary initiative proposes giving 2500 young people aged 18 to 25 an InterRail Pass. In August 2016, four Liberal or Centre-Left MEPs (Members of the EP) submitted a pilot project which was supported by Mr Weber, leader of the EPP Group (European People’s Party, Centre Right), during his comments on the 2016 State of the European Union Speech.
Budgeted at €1.15 million for passes worth €415, the pilot would allow 2500 young people, drawn by lot but with quotas per Member State, to enjoy a month of travel, to be used in the next 2 years. The first results show that the most favoured of the drawers immediately took advantage of their Pass. Nearly half of the passes have not been used, probably by young people who cannot afford to stay abroad. This project is still under discussion today: the more progressive parties would not further it. They say it only favours tourism, benefiting only those who would have travelled anyway.
Eighteen is when, in Europe, most youth transition to adulthood and at the same time wish to realise some projects or simply open up to others. In the summer period after the end of the secondary cycle, each young person could present a personal project to be carried out in another European country, over one or two months. It could be an internship, a linguistic exchange, a volunteer activity, an associative or artistic activity. Eighteen is when myths are still found in the East or beyond the seas. It is also the age when first projects are made. Why not allow young Europeans to build them in Europe?
BECOMING EUROPEAN – MEMO
Europe is being made, but Europeans are still to become
- In 1998, at the Agora of Athens, the think tank Europe 2020 presented its plans for “Broadening the circle of European actors”. According to its estimates, no more than 5% of European citizens, or more than 20 million of them, had had direct experience of living, training or working abroad.
- At the time, the Commission estimated that 2-4% of Europeans had already had such an activity and the European Erasmus, Research or INTERREG programmes had reached together a maximum of 3 million Europeans at the most.
- The growth of the single market, the increased mobility of Europeans and, let’s not forget, the crisis of 2008, doubled the number of Europeans living abroad. But it only increased from 8 million to 16 million from 2008 to 2016. If we add the 9 million Erasmus, the 4 to 6 million researchers (over 30 years) and the 20 million border workers, they are not more than 50 million in total – allowing for duplicates such as Erasmus students or researchers having stayed in the country which they visited – to have had such an experience of other Europeans.
- In 2013, only 30% of Europeans have made at least one holiday abroad. This leaves 70% of Europeans who have not crossed a border that year and for whom Europe is only tourists and Brussels so distant!
- Of these actions, the Erasmus program is one of the few cited by 50% of Europeans as an example of a positive EU initiative. Erasmus celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. It has mainly benefited students, who represent only 30 to 40% of young Europeans5. Ten per cent of them go to Erasmus each year, so 3 to 4% of an age group.
- Again, if Erasmus+ is added for vocational training, the 100,000 young researchers financed each year by Horizon 2020 (especially young people from the European Research Council and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie scholarships) and the 32,000 volunteers European Solidarity Corps, a maximum of 10% of European young people leave each year.
- ALL Europeans must feel they can benefit from the EU directly.
An InterRail pass, but not for all young people
- The pilot project launched by MEPs Harms and Cramer (Greens Europeans), Ujhelyi (Socialist) and Meissner (Liberal) was supported by Mr Weber, leader of the EPP Group, during the debate that followed the 2016 State of the European Union Speech (#SOTEU) .
- Launched in 2017 with €1.15 million for Passes worth €415, the pilot would allow 2500 young people, drawn by lot but with quotas per Member State, to enjoy one month of travel, to be used in the following 2 years.
- The first results show that the most favoured of the drawers immediately took advantage of their Pass. Nearly half of the passes have not been used, probably by young people who can’t afford to stay abroad. This project is still under discussion today: the more progressive parties would not further it. They say it only favours tourism, benefiting only those who would have travelled anyway.
#BEcomingEU – Becoming a European – For an entire age class
- With €1,000 an 18-year-old European could travel and carry out one of his projects for one or two months in the EU. The travel costs of a European program could be reduced through partnerships with InterRail, bus or air lines that would form partnerships such as Ryan Air did with the Erasmus student network.
- Pilot projects initiated by the European Parliament can reach up to 10 million Euros, for a total of up to 50 million a year.
- By deciding an allocation of 10 million in 2018, at least 10,000 young Europeans would be able to set up a project in Europe by 2019. All it would take is an identity card proving being 18-year-old, a viable project lasting 1 to 2 months maximum and an address in the European Union.
- In 1987, the Commission launched the Erasmus program by funding only some 3,000 students. They were the “Free Movers” who just had to get a letter certifying that the professor of the course followed ‘At home’ would have recognized the notes put by the ‘Foreign’ teacher for the same course. Today, more than 5 million students have benefited.
- If the pilot project worked well, extending it to all young Europeans aged 18 in a given year, would cost 4 to 5 billion Euro (as only 4 to 5 million Europeans become 18 each year). This represents 40% of the annual expenditure of the Horizon 2020 research program and double the current annual expenditure of the Erasmus program. For us at UEF, this is a small price to pay to allow young Europeans to truly ‘become European’.
This post is an update of the French version which was adopted by the Belgian Section of the Union of European Federalists in its General Assembly of 30/9/2017. See press release here http://www.uef-belgium.be/wp/?p=3068&lang=en-us.
 Ryan Air offered a 15% rebate to members of the Erasmus Student Network https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/plan-trip/explore/erasmus 2017Eurobrat