From the Schuman to the Schulz Declaration - YEU Intern Antonio de Benedetto at European Parliament
On the 9th of May, a plenary session of the European Parliament was held in Brussels. This was in the occasion of Europe Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the 1950's “Schuman Declaration”, considered to be the first step of the ambitious project that led to the creation of the European Union.
On this special occasion, the EP President Martin Schulz raised his voice against the doubtful air that surrounds the European project in this era of economic and social crisis. “We all need to remember”, he said, “the ideas that prompted the founding fathers of EU to open internal borders and to establish a common economic area. They pursued an effective solidarity among European peoples just after World War II, as only a united Europe could have reached a future of wellness”.
Nowadays, Mr Schulz remarked, we should be proud of the achievements of this project that went beyond the original intentions and yielded the unique European social model. That is a common space of freedom, democracy, justice and equity, where education, active citizenship, equal opportunities and solidarity are strongly promoted. Because of such policies, Europe is the region with the highest social and environmental standards of the entire world, and it still works on improving them. The EP president invited all the actors in European society to keep believing on this social model and to fight the selfish temptation to build walls once again. Some Member States have recently proposed to modify the Schengen agreements, but a future with internal borders is unconceivable to the “Erasmus generation”.
EU has chosen to face the economic crisis with budget discipline. The EP President agrees with this strategy, given that it is the only way to stop piling up debt that will be paid by next generations. Nonetheless, this “austerity” strategy must be taken in conjunction with the adoption of growth policies, with an eye to young people that are paying the highest price for a crisis they are not accountable for. A young person out of four, in the EU, is unemployed, and in some countries the ratio is even worse. EU institutions must therefore find concrete ways to implement economic growth and invest heavily on education as well as on professional training and updating. Hence, in Mr Schulz's words, “the Parliament will oppose any fund reduction concerning youth policies”.
Part of my internship program, at YEU International office in Brussels, is about getting to know European institutions. Attending the EU Parliament plenary session was a great way to start.
Antonio Di Benedetto
YEU VIP Volunteer