Moldova between East and West!

We continue to consider the European Union as our common home believing that National boundaries are no more a limit but a gate to share our cultures and common values with other European citizens. In it with this firm belief that several of our members took part as speakers to the conference “Moldova between East and West” organised by the Institute of European Democrats in collaboration with our Slovak member Mladí Európania in Chisinau on 28 November 2016.

This event aspired to reflect upon the intensifying relations between the EU and Moldova after the EU-Moldova Association Agreement entered into force on 1 July 2016. The Agreement is a breaking point in the EU-Moldova relationship which aims to proceed to a gradual economic integration and a deeper political cooperation between the country and the EU. Nevertheless, there are still several serious issues such as the high level of political and economic corruption, poverty, slow pace of the reform process and long-term Transnistria dispute. What is more, the EU currently experiences major crisis in its history, facing the massive migration flow from the Middle East and North Africa, Brexit negotiations, worsening relationship with Turkey and the overall rise of anti-EU parties across Europe. All this reflects on the development of the European Neighbourhood Policy.

The conference therefore analysed the relationship and current state of negotiations between EU and Moldova, evaluated the positive and negative prospects of the Moldovan Accession to the EU and broadened the discussion on Moldova to the overall concept of the European Neighbourhood Policy.

In the first panel of the conference: Moldova between East and West from international perspective: European Union, Russia and the future of Moldova’s geopolitical orientation, Mihai Sebe, Partner Member of the YDE Board provided a political analysis of the European Neighbourhood Policy and of the Eastern Partnership approach as seen from an EU border country, Romania, a country with particular ties with Moldova. He underlined the main challenges that the country and the region are facing and emphasised the need of structural reforms.

Mihai also mentioned that from now on, the EU must support concrete projects and less parties or politicians. We need real small steps rather than pro-European rhetoric void of any real content. As regards Russia doubts were expressed regarding its ability to replace the EU financial assistance – that would force the governing forces to maintain a pro-European trajectory as at the end they must keep the state going and they need the money to do that. The last years of pro-European governing although disappointing on some aspects provided us with a lot of lessons on do and do not that need to be learned and then put into practice in all our future actions and policies

In the last panel of the conference: Youth in Moldova and Europe: Youth Perception of the future of the EU-Moldova relations and EU Neighbourhood Policy, Miroslava Calegari, former YDE President stressed the fact that despite the Western EU countries and Europeans youth don’t know too much about Moldova, we are a part of one family. As a thirty-year old Slovak woman that can still a little bit remember the “pre-European” life, this is understandable youngsters are leaving their homes in prospective of better future as we all do want to live a better life. However, the problem is there will not be someone to change Moldova. Moldavian youths have to fight in prospective of your own future and the future of the next generations to come and be strong and patient. These changes can just happen next year or next decade. We will be here to share our thoughts, experiences and to support you not to slow down and that was why we were here in Chisinau.

Veronika Okata, YDE Board member and Vice-President for Foreign Affairs and Partnerships in Mladí Európania emphasised the importance of the involvement of Moldavian Youth in the decision-making processes and civil society mobilization. In her speech, she also shared the advice and best practice on how the youth can be influential on both the European and national level. Veronika also shared the experience of political involvement of youth in Slovakia from the period before joining the EU and after the country’s accession in 2004, underlying advantages and disadvantages of the EU membership. In the end, she wished all the participants good luck in fight for the better future of Moldova, while expressing the hopes of closer collaboration between the EU and Moldova.

The conference was organised with the financial support of the European Parliament.


Statement on the Elections in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The elections on December 11th provide the people of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.Macedonia) with the possibility of a new start, and the unification of all democratic forces. And foremost, it offers the people of F.Y.R.O.Macedonia  the possibility to choose the direction for the future of their country.

Free and fair elections are the cornerstones of robust democratic states. These principles are not negotiable and must be respected by all political forces. Ensuring clean electoral lists,  and preventing manipulation of the electorate must have absolute priority in order to secure not only transparency and accountability, but most of all legitimacy. It is crucial that citizens are presented with a variety of meaningful options from which they can choose what kind of lives and systems they consider to be the most desirable for their very own community. This means, free and open competition between different parties. Considering that the latest European Commission report on the F.Y.R.O. Macedonia mention the increasing risk of “state capture” and expresses serious concerns regarding civil liberties, it is crucial that these elections are conducted in a free and fair way so that the country can get back on democratic track and take action in order to give a more positive outlook for the next report .

Vivid discussions focussing on the political content and ideological differences do not only allow all people to enjoy their fundamental rights, such as the freedom of speech, freedom of association and assembly, and freedom of the press, it is also a tool which fosters deeper political participation and paves the way for the emancipation of both individuals and groups. We call on all the candidates to use their opportunities and participate in public debates, thus providing enough information, so that the public can make an informed choice.

The people of F.Y.R.O.Macedonia have lived in a polarized society for many years and they deserve to once and for all enjoy their fundamental rights and democracy. Everything else is not giving them the adequate respect they deserve.

As young people, who are not only living today, but who will also bear the consequences of today’s decisions in the future, we call upon all parties and all other relevant institutions and organisations to collectively ensure that all citizens can practice the democracy they are entitled to through the constitution.

EFAy- European Free Alliance Youth

FYEG- Federation of Young European Greens

IFLRY- International Federation of Liberal Youth

IUSY- International Union of Socialist Youth

JEF- Young European Federalists

LYMEC- European Liberal Youth

YDE- Young Democrats for Europe

YES- Young European Socialists

Joining the Institute of European Democrats!

The Young Democrats for Europe are glad to join the Institute of European Democrats this week! Another step towards a stronger European Democrats’ family!

This marks an important step towards our long-term development and another step in our collaboration with the IED. Our two organisations share common goals such as promoting a more efficient and direct citizens’ participation.

We will therefore be given the opportunity to develop and promote our positions on Youth empowerment, freedom of movement amongst other issues and work actively on strengthening democratic ideas and values in Europe, promoting and defending European citizens’ rights and freedoms, and fighting against populism in Europe.

Finally, we also congratulate our Vice-President, Mathieu Camescasse, on becoming member of the IED Scientific Committee.

Free InterRail passes for the European youth: a misguided proposal

Following the European Parliament support this week for an European People’s Party amendment to the long-term budget of the European Union securing funding for the initiative, the Young Democrats for Europe express their position on this misguided proposal

Violeta Bulc, the Commissioner for Transport, recently told the European Parliament that she was ready to carry through an old idea of offering free InterRail tickets to all young adults turning eighteen, sparking a wave of enthusiasm among MEPs and Brussels officials. These tickets enable their holders to travel by train freely through Europe for a certain number of weeks and has quickly become a masterpiece of the young European tool-kit. The aim of such a measure is clear: enhancing youth mobility and fostering the European feeling among new generations. However, if on the face of it, the plan may sound appealing, we Democrats consider it as neither a legitimate policy instrument, nor an efficient way of fighting Euroscepticism and increasing mobility.

First and foremost, this idea will be costly, tremendously costly. Estimates vary from 1,5 to 3 billion euros, between 1 and 2 % of the EU budget, at a time when this budget is precisely subject to fierce negotiations and is put under stronger pressure due to the financial impact of Brexit. Which program is going to be trimmed in order to pay for this generous plan? Which other source of financing is available? These remain open questions.

We do not mean to say that building a European sense of belonging is not worth a couple of billions. It undoubtedly does. But it is doubtful that offering InterRail passes is the best way of reviving the love for the EU among youngsters. Frequent trips throughout Europe are already a reality for many young Europeans thanks to InterRail and low-cost carrier flights. Alternatively, this money would be better employed to fund the Erasmus programme whose financing has been put under threat for the last years and which still remains inaccessible for many students. This money could also be provisioned for the programme of an apprenticeship Erasmus, put forward by our MEP Jean Arthuis.

This idea is also problematic on a political point of view. Is it really the role of a government to offer free journeys with taxpayer’s money? And even if it were, i should this be the role of the European Union? If something needs to be done to help the least well-off to discover their continent, it seems that national governments are perfectly capable, and better suited, to conduct such a policy. At a time where resentment for the Union is at a record high, when it is regarded as an out of touch and wasteful institution, it is not the moment to make its detractors right.

Moreover, the EU has better tools at its disposal to make travelling easier and cheaper for all European citizens. It could carry on with the opening of the European rail network to competition, especially international lines, currently in limbo. If the EU seeks to increase mobility as a whole, it should continue to break down barriers on the continent, a task it has been very good at for the last decades.

Simply, this plan is demagogic and clientelistic. It is just wrong to buy the love and support of the voters with gifts. It is ridiculous to expect to get the respect of young people by offering them a trip to explore Europe’s wonders. Youngsters are perfectly capable of rationally understanding why the EU is so important in their lives and for their future.

The EU is an extraordinary journey that has done more than any other institution to connect the European peoples, and this is precisely why it should give up this idea that undermines its credibility and will do nothing to improve it. We believe that long-term solutions and deep changes in EU policies are the only way to bring the necessary means to the European youth to gain its autonomy and embrace its European identity

Vincent Delhomme

This article was originally published on the College of Europe blog :

Picture: MSc Utrecht

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

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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