Citizens of Europe: a choice to be made
From the 7-17th July 2013, the « Young European Citizens Convention » in Cluny (France) has decided to concentrate on what is working in Europe. We are choosing to be optimistic, to promote active European citizenship and to work on a plan to spread the word and demonstrate that Europe is attractive and worth fighting for. This will be the challenge set for the 60 young people from every European country but also from the rest of the world…to create an action plan « Citizens of Europe : « a choice to be made »
«Europe has been downgraded»… « The Eurozone is about to explode! » … « The European Union is a technocratic machine at the mercy of its markets and its lobbies ». At best, Europe is perceived as a necessary evil. But isn’t this bleak vision, an abdication of responsibility, a lack of courage, a way of opting out and avoiding taking action?
The « Young European Citizens Convention » has decided to turn its back once and for all on pessimism and the current atmosphere of doom and gloom. What if we look at what we have already achieved through the European Union? What if we look at the amazing opportunities open to us as a peaceful, unified and prosperous continent, enriched by our different cultures? This year we want to concentrate on the reasons for hope. We are optimists but lucid, active citizens and above all looking towards the future.
Naive? certainly not! The past 12 editions of the «Young European Citizens Convention » have shown that a diverse group of young people from different backgrounds and different countries from the European Union (but also from all over the world) could meet the challenge of producing upon a common project for Europe through their enthusiasm and communication. For example the first European Citizen’s Initiative « Fraternité 2020 » was developed from the work carried out during the Convention. (www.fraternité2020.eu).
2013 is the European Commission’s « European Year of Citizens » but it is also marks the run up to the European elections in June 2014: It’s the perfect time to develop an ambitious vision for Europe.
Of course, Europe viewed from inside Europe is a mosaic of cultures. The cultures and national identities have been enriched but have also clashed throughout history. Yet, the European Union was based on and built around precisely that…the idea of reunification after the tragedy of the Second World War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The European project in itself is the idea that that we can overcome our different national identities whilst still respecting local diversity and the cultural diversities that express the Union motto « United in diversity »
However, Europe seen from America, Asia or Africa may seem less disparate and diversified than it appears. A European culture and the European way of life are without doubt identifiable. Europeans inhabit a territory that has been profoundly affected throughout history, they have institutions in common and have social protection systems that are well developed. Is the perception of a European diversity therefore more a result of the diversity of languages that is obscuring the strong cultural heritage and identity that we share?
So, the European project is worth fighting for. Even more so, there is no alternative: only the commitment of European citizens can enable us to develop European potential. Because national politics are leaving little room for the European debate, it’s up to the citizens to take over. How do we promote European citizenship? What aspects of the European project should be at the forefront? What message do we need to address to Europeans to mobilize them?
At the end of 10 days, the participants of the Young European Citizens Convention 2013 will have drawn up an action plan to promote the commitment of citizens in Europe. This plan will make use of different mediums such as videos, photos, slogans, literary texts, songs or cartoons to express your vital message that must mobilise our energies…it’s your choice – and your chance to act!