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Europe's lost generation? Young Europeans' perspectives on the crisis

Monday, 22 April 2013

A group of active young citizens from across Europe came to Brussels in April to present their report on Europe's 'lost generation'. These young professionals, all members of FutureLab Europe, debated their ideas with European Commission Vice-President Joaquin Almunia, who accepted the first copy of the report.

A 38-page report unveiled at this second annual ‘Europe@debate’ event organised by FutureLab Europe, a programme for active young European citizens operated by the EPC, set out the concerns of young people that their voice is still not being heard in  the corridors of political power in Brussels or in national capitals.  Contributors to the report – all participants in the FutureLab Europe programme – confronted European Commission Vice-President Joaquin Almunia with their findings in a Q&A session on bridging the gap between generations as part of the response to the current crisis.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the original aims of the EU's existence – cementing democracy and human rights across Europe – were being replaced by a need to unite and to further integrate in order to tackle current problems and issues such as immigration, global trade competition, and ageing societies.

But there was a lack of solidarity, opposition in some member states to more integration, and a worrying decline in public confidence in the EU institutions:  economic models had been exposed as seriously flawed, with growing evidence that de-regulation of the European financial sector in the last 25 years was precisely the wrong approach, Almunia said.

It was now obvious that increased financial regulation was required, while "non-financial" parts of the economy needed de-regulation and liberation, coupled with a fight-back against corporatism and vested interests.  Otherwise, confidence and entrepreneurship, and the incentives to seize opportunities, would be lost, the commissioner said.

The crisis had also revealed rapidly-increasing inequalities in society, and young people should be at the heart of the debate about reversing that trend.

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