October 31, 2014
The new European Commission takes office in November 2014. The new president Jean-Claude Junker said that it is his “desire that the EC will be very political in nature”. I wish good luck to the new team of Commissioners; the EU really needs politicians with vision and with experience in developing European dossiers for a better quality of life for its 500 million citizens.
Of course, we also have a new European Commissioner for Education, namely Tibor Navracsics from Hungary. His portfolio includes EU youth policy, which allows me to make some recommendations on the link between EU youth and education.
First of all, please pay special attention to the implementation of the national schemes for the Youth Guarantee programme. Do not blame other DGs of the European Commission responsible for this program, and do not try to hide behind the inability of Member States to propose effective national schemes. Young Europeans are tired of slogans, promises and diplomatic apologies. It’s time to assume political responsibility for managing the program.
As European Commissioner for Education, you benefit from a brand – Erasmus – which far exceeds the reputation of the sectorial educational policies. This European mobility program is undoubtedly a great achievement of the European Union. My recommendation is to increase analyses regarding the efficiency in allocation of funds for direct beneficiaries of the Erasmus programme.
However, in addition to the hundreds of speeches that you will have, including clichés like “you are the future of Europe” or “young people are the ones who build Europe”, it is important to firmly include innovation in the EU education policy. We know that education policy competences are at Member State or regional level. So do not be deceived by unrealistic claims, but act realistically, targeting clearly what is in the power of European Commission. The only way to bring new life into European education is to propose and launch new European programs, such as the Erasmus programme. Ms Viviane Reding, in her mandate of Education commissioner, launched in 2002 the Erasmus Mundus programme. Sincere congratulations! It is a great shame to see those who carried the education mandate, left few marks to trace.
I suggest two courses of action:
Now at the beginning of your term, launch a European programme focused on short term mobility (about 3 weeks), especially during the summer. Name the program even “Summer Erasmus”. Open the program to youth in general, not just students, who represent only 10% of European youth. For efficiency, use a European and regional scheme for implementation, not a national one.
Several years ago I developed a course entitled “EU Communication Techniques”, which I taught at universities in Brussels, and at Master students in Italy and Romania. It’s a great pleasure to meet students passionate about European studies, even though most of them have not even been to the capital of Europe. A practical idea is to launch a European program for which any university offering courses on the history of the EU, European Community institutions or EU policies could bring their students to Brussels for a week of intensive presentations. The agenda should not only include the classic visit to the European Parliament or the European Commission. Show the students how the European countries and regions are represented in Brussels; how corporations present their interests; and how journalists report from Brussels.
There are just a few ideas for the beginning of the new term. Good luck! The young people of Europe need a European Commissioner who they can trust!