Edited by: István Ujhelyi MEP
“How absurd! Calling youth the age of happiness; the age when everyone is the most vulnerable!” – said Agatha Christie. She was definitely right from the point of view that younger generations are more vulnerable, easier to influence and therefore they also deserve more attention. Although being young comes with less responsibility and pressure, unfortunately the renowned author was right again in a sense that today’s youth faces previously unseen challenges.
Here in Europe the new generation struggles with serious unemployment triggered by the economic crisis. They are forced to leave their homeland because of economic reasons. In addition the general hopelessness and radicalization, the disunity of the European community, and the lack of political transparency all give the impression that Europe is weaker and further away than ever. Thus it is down to us, young social democrats, to step forward as examples to follow and pave the way for future generations.
The first goal is to reach full employment for everyone aged 25 and younger
Today in Europe more than 5.5 million young people are unemployed. This means that every fifth person below the age of 25 does not have a job. Following the crisis unemployment increased especially among the youth, now reaching a staggering 20%. This is twice as much than overall unemployment in Europe – examining all age groups – and nearly three times as much as in the 25 and older group. Those who are not getting any education number up to 7 million. We, young social democrats must target full employment for everyone below the age of 25 in the European Union. Initiatives of the European Commission have not really been up to the expectations: the Youth Guarantee has been implemented by only a few member states and other funds targeting to lower youth unemployment are still intact – although they truly have the potential to help. The S&D Group must review and evaluate these programmes and its effects in practical terms. We, the S&D40 Group suggests to set up a monitoring body that shall assess what has been achieved and come up with proposals towards both the party and the Commission on how to ensure that projects aiming to eliminate youth unemployment are more successful.
The second goal is to minimize forced migration triggered by economic conditions
Forced migration has been accelerated since the European borders have vanished. Effects of the economic crisis also boosted this phenomenon as more and more people were forced to migrate because of economic reasons. Predominantly from Eastern-Europe (Romania, Hungary, Poland) hundreds of thousands fled to Western-European countries to look for work. Therefore the principles of free movement of workers and free movement of persons must remain a cornerstone of the comprehensive and borderless European value system. The economic crisis – coupled with political crisis at some places – is producing more and more economic migrants, now in a quantity that it becomes extremely hard to handle. They are mainly coming from younger generations leaving their homes not because they seek adventure, not in order to study; but because they are simply seek means of subsistence. Throughout Europe there is intense debate around the reform of social benefits (the re-elected David Cameron for instance is about to cut benefits for foreign workers) while eurosceptics are fuelling their xenophobic and anti-European campaign using the social tension generated by the crisis. We, young social democrats have a dual role to play. First, we must find solution to provide young generations with attractive opportunities at home so literally hundreds of thousands are not forced to migrate. Our new, Hungarian socialist programme, the so-called ‘Homecall-project’ (Hazaváró-program) – tailored to the Hungarian situation – aims to address this challenge. Second, we must prevent social tension causing ethnic tension as well. We must stand strong and unified to make it clear: we will not let anybody to destroy our European community and turn friendly nations against each other.
The third goal is to protect new generations from radical voices
The last elections resulted in the rapid rise of far-right parties. For example in France, Great-Britain, and also in Denmark eurosceptics won most of the votes on the European elections. It should have noticed how the populist extremism is creeping into everywhere: in Hungary the extremist Jobbik won parliamentary mandate in a by-election, the governing Fidesz started an inciting anti-immigration campaign, and in the last provincial elections in Austria, the FPÖ (which has also campaigned with anti-immigration voices) strengthened in a hard way too. While extremist parties are gaining ground we must not forget that young Europeans also turn to violent radicalism in increasing numbers. Numerous studies showed that many young people predominantly from Western-European countries have joined to Syrian and Iraqi militant groups where they engage in several brutal and inhuman actions. It is beyond doubt that we must stop extremist parties and at the same time save young people from radicalization by all means. We, young social democrats have the duty and responsibility to answer the question: why future generations of Europe turn to radicalism? Research proves that young people in Europe identify themselves with populist extremist parties mainly because they lack a strong and visible alternative from the political spectrum. The lack of proper information and targeted deception both lead to the radicalization of young people who appear to be easier to influence. We need a comprehensive strategy to combat this phenomenon. It is indispensable to find the channels that will lead us to young individuals who now feel left out from the political discourse. We must present ourselves as an attractive and genuine alternative to become pioneers in strengthening socialist and social democrat youth movements. We must identify all reasons that make extremist voices so popular and simply occupy and transform their platforms afterwards.
The fourth goal is to increase political activity and support the new politically active generation
One of the main reasons why young people are radicalized today is their growing apolitical approach. Statistical data shows that the activity of voters is at an all-time low in Europe – with some rare exceptions – as less and less people turns up to vote or express willingness to influence mainstream politics that affect everyone. European citizens, and especially younger generations are losing interest in politics as a whole. We, young social democrats must strengthen and support the politically active youth while making the entire decision-making process more transparent and appealing. The European Parliament and other European institutions have launched numerous programmes aiming to bring the democratic decision-making process closer to the citizens. With all their complexity and sluggishness Brussels and Strasbourg are still among the most transparent political frameworks, however, we need more efforts in order to include the eager youth into the decision-making process. One potentially effective solution could be the establishment of a ‘shadow youth-fraction’ within the S&D Group which could act as a bridge for youth movements and young people in all member states to step forward bringing their issues to the limelight on the European stage, and at the same time the S&D40 Group could become the melting pot for the talented and emerging future politicians and representatives while supporting their activity.
We need young people in Europe who are open, self-aware with hunger for knowledge.
Social democrats, who believe in a strong and social Europe.
People who want more Europe!
This is what we want. This is our generation!
11/06/2015/Budapest – PES Congress