As the EU comes together for elections of MEPs in the Europeans Parliament it is wise and important to look at the place of young people within the present and future development of the EU.
After a historic EU parliament election cycle with one of the highest turnouts since the formation of the Union it is prudent to look at the place of youth as the present and future of Europe.
For many young people the end goal of the European Union should be to transcend the nation states and unite people in an association of citizens. Young people are at the forefront of this end goal and only with them can we achieve a peaceful and united Europe.
The issues that we as a generation must face, and many are still to come, will have to be solved in the context of the EU focused on the vision for the EU and the place of its citizens within its jurisdiction.
Europe, after centuries of bloodshed and violence for the first time in its history has been able to consolidate itself in a period of peace that everyone hopes will last. Many are saying that with the EU the axes of war are buried for good, but I argue they should be smelted down in the name of peace. Since its conception, the EU has had one ultimate end goal – integration.
Integration is a long process where people ultimately recognize each other as humanbeings, it is the innate acceptance within a person to see the “other” as a human being on equal footing. In the current state of the EU, young people are leading because for the first time we have a generation of Europeans that have come of age without the conception of strict border division. The cafés in the Benelux countries where you can sit in two countries at the same time are proof enough.
The place of young people in the present EU and the future Europe is their ability to push forward an inclusive concept of European citizenship where people do not see themselves as European as a secondary addition to the citizenship of their nation but as citizens of Europe first and foremost. Many young people already have this conception. With this broad change of mindset towards the EU in their whole generation they may be the catalyzers of a process of deeper European integration.
The opportunities of young people to travel and to communicate digitally across borders in the whole of Europe means that the mindset barriers of previous generations do not exist. As long as we choose to fund programs like EVS and Erasmus+, programs that bring people together we will see the development of a prosperous Europe as an association of citizens in a democratic setting.