Conclusions of United Europe’s Young Professionals Seminar in Aix, March 31 – April 2, 2017

Young Professionals debating Europe’s future in Aix-en-Provence in March 2017

As the pro-European demonstrations in more than 60 European cities this spring show, Europeans are increasingly willing to stand up for their future together. Faced with the rise of populist movements and authoritarian leaders in Europe and beyond, they are reaffirming their commitment to a united Europe. Yet to regain broad support for Europe, more efforts are needed, particularly in communication and education.

This is why United Europe chose to focus its ninth Young Professionals Seminar on ”Developing a European Identity”. After an intensive two-day debate, 25 young Europeans representing a total of 17 nations put forward a list of specific measures to help foster a common identity in Europe:

1. Create A Clear Vision of the Future of Europe

  • Explain why we need Europe and where it should be heading. For this, we have a possible blue print in the Rome Manifesto.
  • Define who we are and which threats and enemies we are facing
  • Develop common projects for Europe that capture people’s imagination and make us more competitive in the world (for instance introducing free WIFI for all Europeans; achieving energy independence for Europe on the basis of clean energy; or pioneering space mining)

2. Improve Education and Enlarge Exchanges

  • Set up a voluntary civic service from different national and social backgrounds to work together for a limited time on topics European nations are fully aligned on such as supporting people in needs or protecting the environment
  • Build common narratives through education exchanges and European teacher workshops particularly in the field of history
  • Change the school curricula and the standards of excellency (for example PISA) to emphasize critical and creative thinking

3. Overhaul the European Union’s Marketing

  • Change the Commission’s marketing guidelines to free up funds and allow for more creativity
  • Have one team coordinate all marketing efforts and create a consistent brand
  • Do a Europe-wide campaign on our goals and values (“European Love Story”)
  • In parallel, develop individual campaigns that reach people in an everyday situation where the EU has concrete benefits for them (for example a cinema spot in the summer on clean beaches; information in airports on free movement of people, EU research findings in hospitals; targeted online ads on food safety or traveling)
  • Use European pitch competitions for media agencies to produce new ideas and attract public attention
  • Ensure that all EU institutional communication projects are results focused and therefore require ex-post evaluation in order to measure success and improve for the future
  • Use the Erasmus alumni – by now eight million Europeans! – to create a network of ambassadors for the EU. Develop marketing tools – “Erasmus-Baby on Board”-Stickers, T-Shirts– to make the programme’s success visible

4. Fight Against the Populists

  • Encourage politicians and citizens to stand up for Europe
  • Pick up on the issues that populists are raising, but propose solutions that are compatible with European values
  • Learn from the way populists spread their message, catch up with their tools
  • Think about limiting terms in office for elected politicians

5. Deal with Fake News

  • Create websites and tools to help people to quickly identify fake news
  • Alert advertisers about sites with fake news and put pressure on them to stay away
  • Improve fact-checking by platforms and social media
  • Combat state-sponsored fake news through diplomacy and targeted measures