Conclusions of United Europe’s 8th Young Professionals Seminar from September 23 to 25, 2016, at Lake Como

United Europe's 8th Young Professionals Seminar at the Villa Vigoni
Particcipants of United Europe’s 8th Young Professionals Seminar posing for a group photo on the stairs of Villa Vigoni

Europe is in deep crisis. Faced with the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the EU’s remaining 27 member states have no common vision on how to take the European project forward. The euro crisis has soured relations between Northern and Southern Europe; the refugee crisis is straining relations between East and West. Yet how can we face the challenges of globalisation if we are disunited?

This is why United Europe chose to focus its eighth Young Professionals Seminar on “Europe: Common Roots, Common Destiny”.  After an intensive two-day debate, 22 young Europeans representing a total of 15 nations put forward a list of conclusions to help Europe regain its path to a common destiny. Beginning with a definition of Europe’s identity, we also discussed in five separate steps the EU’s weaknesses and what should be done to bring us back together and make Europe work better

1. While Europe has a unique identity that shapes the way we live and think…

  • It is a harbour of diversity
  • It offers people freedom of choice
  • It has deep cultural and historical roots
  • It shares the values of human rights, social justice, democracy and peace and compromise

2. …the European Union’s institutions face enormous challenges

  • A lack of a common vision
  • A lack of long-term goals and strategies
  • A dysfunctional monetary union
  • A bureaucratic reality/perception
  • A lack of citizens’ participation
  • A lack of communication and transparence
  • An inability to execute common political goals
  • An inability to safeguard internal security

3. We need to strengthen awareness of our common identity…

  • Brand Europe; create a “Face of Europe”
  • Exploit the power of symbols like a European passport, European competitions or a European day to be celebrated across the continent
  • Develop a communications strategy that emphasises the European Union’s achievements and benefits as well as the importance of empowering young people and embracing cultural diversity

4. … while also making Europe’s institutions function better

  • Redefine the vision of the EU during the coming months, aim to make that part of celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome on March 25, 2017
  • Find more commonalities like the energy union or a defense union; set new goals for the EU’s foreign or security policy
  • Introduce more transparency by making data available and easy to understand and by strengthening accountability and the public’s participation
  • Show a united front both internally and externally

5. Put education at the centre of the European project to ensure a sustainable and competitive position for Europe

  • Create a common vision for all Europeans of where we come from and where we want to go to
  • Improve the mobility of Europe’s citizens by creating common standards and best practices for education and vocational training
  • Introduce new ways of learning; foster critical thinking
  • Qualify students better for the challenges of the changing job markets
  • Foster entrepreneurship