Democracy: the cornerstone of a free society

// Text already published on the 3rd of June in YO!Mag, online magazine of the European Youth Forum.

Nowadays, who is not democrat? Raise your hand. You may ask: What is it today to declare yourself to be a democrat when everyone is a democrat? We, Young Democrats for Europe, put democracy at the core of our engagement. Democracy is not, and shouldn’t be, a punctual event in our citizenship. Democracy isn’t a regular exercise to maintain power for a few, but a constant way of life, a constant effort, for all of us. Democracy is a shield to protect our way of life. A shield we should protect in return when it’s being attacked.

“The pacific and daily fight”

For us, democracy is more than a simple method of government, it is a spirit embracing the values of liberty and humanism. Democracy is to be governed by rules you decide upon, it is equality, equal participation of all, and human dignity. It is the possibility of enlightened deliberation and decision-making. Democracy, autonomy and human rights go hand in hand.

Therefore, democracy should be preserved and defended. When populism is playing with our fears, when politicians are overreacting to crises and issues which should be approached with seriousness, ethics, and professionalism, it revives the destructive idea that democratic regimes are weak, that a strongman is needed in order to govern a society. In Europe, the rise of authoritarianism is worrying. Our fears work like a time machine which can only send us back in time. We are on the frontline of democratic defence. And we are calling on all citizens to be part of this pacific and daily fight for democracy.

But democracy should not only be defended, it should be enhanced. There is more to do to increase political participation, democratic control and direct decisions from citizens, especially with the new possibilities offered by the digital age. Education plays a key role in giving citizens the ability to take part in civic life.

We apply this aspiration for democracy, to the entity that we seek to defend and to expand, the European Union. We want a more democratic union and we want the union to protect democracy. We do not mingle our voice with those who picture the EU as an undemocratic institution. Democracy is undoubtedly present in the EU, in the Parliament, directly elected by the people, the Council, gathering members elected by the people, and in the Commission, whose leadership is decided by the former two institutions. Nonetheless, the EU still has progress to make in terms of increasing transparency, strengthening the role of the Parliament, and opening new channels for grassroots participation. We strongly support these developments.

Furthermore, we want a tougher EU when it comes to democracy in its own land. Countries that threaten the rule of law, constitutionalism or freedom of opinion should be quickly monitored and, if needed, sanctioned. It is important to our credibility and the promise we made to the people of Europe and the rest of the world.

Far from being an overrated value, we believe democracy to be the cornerstone of a free society and a peaceful world, and its defence to be of paramount importance.

Mathieu Camescasse and Vincent Delhomme

EYE 2016: Together we can make a change!

The European Youth Event (EYE2016) has taken place this weekend at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. This second edition of the event has gathered more than 7000 young people from all over Europe, ready to discuss the current and future challenges that the European Union is facing. The debates have been led by relevant figures of European politics and civil society, who – besides sharing their experiences and knowledge on specific topics – have been ready to listen to young population´s points of view.

“Together we can make a change” was the chosen motto for the event. The program started on Friday with the opening ceremony with Sylvie Guillaume and Mairead McGuinness (Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament), Johanna Nyman (President of the European Youth Forum) and Roland Ries (Mayor of Strasbourg). The given message was clear: Young generations are the next performers of European politics, the ones who will shape the future of the European Union. Young people in Europe should not feel excluded, but become active players and be listened on the European Union´s development. There is a huge potential of ideas and innovative solutions to be taken into account.

The YDE group has been represented by delegates from France, Germany, the Basque Country, Slovenia and Slovakia. Once again, we have strongly defended our values and firm commitment to help shape a democratic and strong European Union.

The opening plenary session, celebrated on Friday in the hemicycle, showed an incredible vibrant atmosphere with thousands of young Europeans fully engaged and committed to be part of European politics for a day.

The whole program was organized around five main themes:

  • War and Peace: Perspectives for a Peaceful Planet
  • Apathy or Participation: Agenda for a Vibrant Democracy
  • Exclusion or Access: Crackdown on Youth Unemployment
  • Stagnation or Innovation: Tomorrow’s World of Work
  • Collapse or Success: New Ways for a Sustainable Europe

Between several others, some of the hottest topics were how to deal with the refugee crisis, the controversial TTIP agreement with the U.S.A., tax evasion, entrepreneurship, climate challenge or the importance of democracy.

Political debates, interactive workshops and educational activities, besides music and artistic performances have completed a stimulating weekend in which the European identity has been reinforced. The conclusions reached will be discussed in multiple committees in the European Parliament next autumn.

If this weekend has shown us something, than that despite the difficulties and uncertainties on the way, it is that there is still hope to keep on building a strong European Union. It´s future and success is in our hands and we need to be very clear on the path we want to follow because together we can make a change!

 Irati Oleaga

Thanks to Marielle de Sarnez and Robert Rochefort for having sponsored our groups

Brexit or not Brexit: that’s the European future!

After his victory with a surprising majority at the last British General elections, David Cameron now gets a strong mandate to carry through with one of his key campaign issues: renegotiate United Kingdom’s term of adhesion to the European Union and hold a referendum on its membership before 2017. Shortly after his victory, David Cameron toured European capitals to convince his counterparts to let Britain secure more opt-outs, and of the necessity of EU treaties changes.

Ten years after the trauma of the French and Dutch “No” votes to the European Constitution, the issue of institutional changes comes back on the agenda. The EU architecture still lacks clarification. As Democrats and Federalists, we think that Member States should not fear this democratic debate and that this is the occasion to discuss what Europe we want, by putting forward our propositions for more integration.

As a starting point, it should be clearly said to David Cameron and the British people that the European Union is based on certain core values and this is impossible to compromise on them. These values are the heart of the European project. Suggestions to reduce intra-European immigration or deprive migrants of their welfare rights in Britain are not acceptable. Freedom of movement and non-discrimination between EU citizens are basic principles on which the EU is built. Removing these rights in order only to secure British membership would be a terrible mistake. It would give the illusion of strengthening the Union by actually weakening its foundations.

Moreover, David Cameron’s partners should respect British demands and work as much as possible to keep Britain inside the Europe Union. Indeed, the democratic mandate given by the British people for this renegotiation suffers no contestation. The United Kingdom is a major EU country and its departure would be a terrible precedent that would weaken the entire Union. Furthermore, some of Cameron’s demands are positive, such as his pledge to cut red tape and simplify EU rules, or his commitment to strengthen the common market for services.

Most important of all, negotiating in good intelligence with David Cameron would be a good way of obtaining more integration for the countries that desire it. Time has come to reinvent Europe’s architecture. The Euro zone should be the EU core, with more economic and political integration, while an outer circle of countries would merely be focused only on the common market. Those who want to truly build an “ever closer Union” should be able to do so.

A referendum will be held in the United Kingdom. In two years, the European Union could be paralysed, or become more democratic, pluralistic and integrated than ever. All European Democrats and Federalists should make their voices heard so only the latter occurs.

 Vincent Delhomme (@VincentDelhomme)

(Photo: European Commission)

Hope for the future, pride to be European

V Hope

Young Democrats for Europe have hope for the future.
Europeans like Europe but regret its inability to solve problems such as unemployment which stays one of our key concerns. Hit by the crisis, unable to fix an effective strategy, European leaders have failed.
They are the ones Europeans consider guilty, not the European Union. Nevertheless, the European project is a victim of this failure.
Young Democrats for Europe want to pursue the European dream, this is therefore essential that our governments finally manage to re-create growth and employment.

This is the only solution for European youth in particular to reconcile with Europe and its governments.
Therefore, to reach that aim, Europe has to begin a policy of economic stimulation by launching across all the territories projects based on the requirement of environmental protection and the creation of infrastructures tightening links between peoples.

As we know, if Europe agrees to subsidise those important projects, millions of local jobs will be created and the project to bring people closer would be strengthened.

Regarding environment, Europe has to increase investments in renewable energy and in construction of public transport networks in all the European important cities. This will contribute to combating global warming, to the improvement of Europeans’ everyday life and to developing  European metropolises.

Solutions exist. Now we need political courage to implement them.
This is the only way to revive the European ideal…


Pride to be European


Young Democrats for Europe are proud to be Europeans.

With regard to the history of Europe, Europeans are aware of their role and influence in the world. We know that numerous countries consider the European Union as a model of human development. Health, Culture, Gastronomy, the luxury and high-technology industry, cinema, architecture,… all these areas illustrate the European know-how and contribute to its outreach.
This reality is an opportunity and a resource that we must harness.
Building on these strengths, the European Union finally achieves to create a functional diplomacy capable of defending our interests and promoting our culture in the world.

Thanks to this active policy of outreach, Europe will be able to make “its” citizens proud to belong to a humanist civilization.
By reconciling with its past and its assets, Europe will be able to contribute to the creation of Europeans, ambassadors.
In order to achieve this, beyond its internal political construction, Europe has to play a role on the international stage, in particular on the territories connected to our history. The latter aspire to develop themselves and to another model than those of the United States or China. This is our duty to hear, understand and to answer this call for help.

Wherever States tear themselves, our experience of conflict settlement should be used. To make Europeans proud and confident in the future, the European Union has to assume and accept its role of major power.

Young Democrats for Europe (YDE)
Jeunes Democrates Europeens (JDE)
YDE is the youth wing of the European Party.We embrace the key role of democratic principles, underlined in the Lisbon Treaty and shrined in our political belief: democracy, freedom, equality, participation, sustainability and solidarity.

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