Big ideas for shaping a better Europe - PART I

We asked the European Young Leaders to share one big idea to shape a better future for Europe. Here are 10 to whet the appetite – but stay tuned, because we’ll be sharing more!

Inaugurate a pan-European Simone Veil Day
Mary Fitzgerald, Journalist and analyst specialising in the Euro-Mediterranean Region, Member of the Board of Trustees at Friends of Europe, and EYL40

Europe needs to tell better stories. Few have captured the European dream in their own life story better than Simone Veil. A French survivor of Auschwitz who became the first elected president of the European Parliament, she believed in the European project because she had directly experienced the horror that preceded it. The story of Veil and her passion for the European Union and women’s rights is surprisingly little known outside Francophone Europe. Celebrating her legacy with a pan-European Simone Veil Day would help inspire a new generation with the story of a true woman of Europe.

Invest in a fleet of night trains
Jon Worth, Blogger, independent consultant, and EYL40

The EU should buy a massive fleet of night trains. However green we would like to be, few people enjoy spending a whole day sitting in a train. But that’s what you have to do for trips like Berlin-Paris, Rome-Vienna or Munich-Warsaw. There has been a lot of media debate about re-establishing night trains as a solution, but other than from Austria’s ÖBB, there has been scant little action to date. So, the EU needs to step in. It has never done something like this before, but the EU should directly procure a massive fleet of carriages, enough for at least 100 night trains, and lease these to operators.

Lead in the global knowledge economy
Claudia Olsson, Founder of Stellar Capacity and EYL40

Europe should continue to develop as a leader in the global knowledge economy, always at the forefront of technological breakthroughs. Cultivating curiosity and innovation as well as supporting life-long learning will be imperative to achieving this goal. By integrating our technical skill development with the development of European power skills – creativity, collaboration and innovative complex problem solving, we can create a workforce that is at the cutting edge of knowledge creation. Only with a learning mentality in the forefront can we unleash our potential to create, transform, and grow.

Scale up funding and knowledge-sharing to stop food waste
By Selina Juul, Chairman of the Board and Founder of Stop Wasting Food movement, and EYL40

In the EU, around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually with associated costs estimated at 143 billion Euros. That is why the EU must take action – and here is how. First, Engage the European Commission and EU27 to initiate National Food Loss and Waste Prevention Funds to provide ongoing financial support for national initiatives, projects, and organizations against food waste in the entire value chain from farm to fork and from researchers to NGO’s and campaigners. Second, push the European Commission to initiate National Knowledge Centres on Food Losses and Waste to provide and share national and international best practices.

Expand Europol & EPPO mandates to address transnational corruption and organised crime
By Matthew Caruana Galizia, Investigative journalist, and EYL40

The fight against corruption is the defining battle in the effort to rebuild trust in the European Union. The proceeds of corruption have been permitted to undermine the rule of law, distort our lives, and poison our politics. While journalists have joined forces to expose globalised crime and corruption, justice and law-enforcement competencies remain national even in the EU. We can expand the mandates of Europol and the EPPO to address the transnational nature of organised crime and corruption. Both need the ability to strike at people who commit serious cross-border crimes (money-laundering, bribery), with the force of all our governments.

Apply the Charter of Fundamental Rights to Member States
By Klen Jäärats, Director of EU Affairs at the Office of the Prime Minister of Estonia, and EYL40

The Charter of Fundamental Rights should become primary law in all member states. This would empower citizens by granting them their fundamental rights in all circumstances, including the right to directly appeal to the European Court of Justice (as a last instance). It would also provide a more solid grounding for European citizenship and strengthen the basis for co-operation between member states. Only then can difficult discussions around rule of law return where they belong: in the courthouse.

Wield Europe’s economic heft to ensure fair play in the global fight against climate change
By Joss Garman, UK Programme Director of the European Climate Foundation and EYL40

Europe has already played a pivotal role on climate change by driving down the cost of clean energy technologies and pioneering laws on carbon pollution. Yet the truth is that for the world to reach climate safety, the EU must now be much more assertive internationally to ensure other major economies also play their part. It is time for Europe to wield its economic heft through the trade, diplomatic, regulatory, and financial avenues to ensure the US, China, and other big polluters step up or lose out. Europe should not let incumbent interests or fear stand in the way of protecting both the security interests and values of European citizens

Promote green jobs to tackle unemployment and restore marine biodiversity
By Wietse van der Werf, Executive Director of the Sea Ranger Service and EYL40
Create green jobs in coastal communities where unemployment is high to restore biodiversity in European seas. A model has already been successfully piloted in the North Sea by Sea Ranger Service, which focuses on training young people and using special zero-emission work ships to improve ocean management. The unique entrepreneurial approach creatively combines services in youth engagement, shipbuilding, offshore, and environmental conservation to tackle youth unemployment, create modern seafaring jobs and regenerate marine biodiversity.

Launch a European Fund for Global Innovators
By Eva Maydell , Member of the European Parliament, President European Movement International and EYL40

We Europeans have taken for granted that we live in prosperity. But these days we see that our economy is losing its competitiveness. We are already lagging in the digital sphere – technological giants are not based here, and innovations are not born here. Our entrepreneurial and inventor spirit is disappearing. Unless we change that, it will be difficult to sustain the same way of European living in the future. We need to change the mindset of the next generation. That is why the EU should start a European Fund for Global Innovators and Inventors. People from all over the world should be coming to Europe with their brave ideas and find support to realize them.

Share and build up best practices & findings on education in our new reality
Francesca Cavallo, Author, Entrepreneur, and EYL40

2020 is the year when millions of children have been deprived of their right to an education. This will have tremendous consequences all around the world. It would be important for Europe to launch an initiative to bring the kids who have abandoned the education system back to school. Several educators in Europe are working on incredible projects in small communities, but there should be an opportunity for them to share their findings, their best practices, and their ideas and funds to implement on the EU level some of the most successful experiments. It can be an online community, an award, an online conference – or all of those things.


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