Big ideas for shaping a better Europe

We asked the European Young Leaders to share one big idea to shape a better future for Europe.

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.

Establish a European community appreciation day
By Kamilla Sultanova, Owner of ConnectUz and EYL40

One of the best outcomes of COVID was the immense power of communities to unite citizens despite the crises of health, climate and social justice. From Finland to France to Malta, cafes, artists, startups, businesses, media, cities, NGOs, individuals showed up to give hope and help. European values were made visible with each support network for resilience, equality and dignity. A European Community Appreciation day would celebrate the trust-building force of individuals and organizations in enabling communities to thrive in unity across Europe.

Work to establish a sustainable human presence in space
By Guillem Anglada Escudé, Reader in Astronomy at Queen Mary University of London and EYL40 and Alfredo Munoz, Founder and CEO of ABIBOO and EYL40

Beyond the many issues in the governance of Earth orbits, an important long-term goal is to establish permanent human beyond Earth. The major geopolitical actors (US and China) are gearing up while the EU remains stagnant in bureaucracy. Besides the vast physical resources of the Solar System, planning sustainable space settlements has enormous inspirational value, and it is a sandbox for solutions to urgent matters in all sectors. The EU should promote the development of Earth-based demonstrator experiments, fostering local economies, while introducing a new generation to all aspects of a functioning society with the sight put on the stars.

One European a day /and making the 9th of May the Day of Inspiring Europeans
Anne-Solène Rolland, Director of national museums at the French Ministry of Culture and EYL40

Europe needs to be embodied by inspiring figures who live as Europeans and make the Europe a reality that can inspire the youth in every country. This year, a French scientist, Emmanuelle Charpentier, working in Germany and formerly in Sweden was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, showing how science has to be made together and with EU help. Why not have such a figure for every day or every month, and highlighting them on the 9th of May to show that Europe is real and inspiring ? Scientists, artists, intellectuals, business men and women, politicians dedicated to Europe : we need to hear more about all these amazing lives that Europe made possible.

Highlight the EU’s biggest achievements on Europe Day
Ivan Stefunko, Managing Partner and Investment Director at Neulogy Ventures and EYL40

The EU has much to be proud of and a bright future to look forward to. The block is strong, innovative, progressive and is a role model for democracy, sustainability and human rights globally. What it needs to face the many challenges of the 21st century, from climate change to technological leaps and undemocratic regimes is unity. And the most important factor for success is strong public support. Let’s join forces and help Europe be more self- confident. Let’s highlight the best achievements our union has achieved every Europe Day and remind Europeans how much we have to be proud of.

Unite around energy transformation through the European Renewable Energy Community
By Małgorzata Tracz, Polish MP, President of Poland’s Green Party and EYL40

The combined effort of all European countries is especially needed to address the climate crisis and the energy transformation – the most serious issues that await us. To successfully confront those challenges, Europe stands in need of ambitious objectives as well as common instruments. The European Renewable Energy Community (ERENE) can offer an adequate response to these challenges and help to answer Europe’s needs. ERENE is an opportunity to jointly lead a fair European energy transformation and to make Europe a pioneer in energy supply. By uniting around energy transformation, we can transform the future of the next generation and the future of Europe.

Embrace Lifespan Development
Farid Tabarki, Founder and Director of Studio Zeitgeist and EYL40

It may be lonely at the top, but life is hardest in the middle. The demise of Joe (or Jane) Blog may well also be the demise of our current political economy. Has the optimism been short-lived? Can only one generation count on upward mobility and the white picket fence that goes along with it? This current crisis must be used to finally embrace Lifespan Development. Only by making sure all citizens are able to keep on developing themselves, can the sustainable growth of our societies continue. This will not only lower the stress levels of the middle class but will also prepare our societies for the continuous changes we can expect to see stem from the vast technological advances of the coming decades.

Take the lead in building an innovative yet affordable life science sector
Nina Rawal, Founder of Emerging Health Ventures and EYL40

Most people worldwide lack access to innovative medicines. Too many have come to accept the current innovation model as the only one possible, and that the solution is to hope for big pharma to lower their prices. But what if another model is possible, one where companies develop affordable products to begin with? As healthcare demands increase and countries’ ability to finance them decreases, the need for affordability is greater than ever. Europe, with its generous science funding, innovation eco-system, and single payor model, is uniquely positioned to take the lead in building an innovative yet affordable life science sector.

Promote a digital Alliance between Europe and Africa through an intercontinental “Startup Act”
By Samir Abdelkrim, Founder of EMERGING Valley, Author, Entrepreneur and EYL40

Although Europe has some of the best scientists and talents on the planet, it is lagging behind in the digital race against its American and Asian neighbours. African tech embodies and celebrates the very same humanist values that Europe seeks to embrace and protect. The industry’s innovations have been born out of necessity and offer inclusive, sustainable and resilient solutions. By joining forces to build an intercontinental Startup Act based on mutual aid between entrepreneurs and ecosystems, Africa and Europe can promote a new type of digital, one that would be meaningful and built around the needs of the people.

Adopt the Bauhaus principles to guide Europe into the decade ahead
By João Wengorovius Meneses, Secretary General of BSCD Portugal and EYL40

In her first State of the Union address, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, voiced her support for the establishment of a “new European Bauhaus”, calling it “a space for co-creation where architects, artists, students, engineers, and designers work together”. The EU Green Deal, at the top of the European agenda, must be accompanied by a huge cultural shift. The Bauhaus is inspirational because it was built around five very important principles: interdisciplinarity, frugality, social purpose, creativity, and identity. These should be the guiding principles of Europe in the decade ahead.

Make Erasmus a requirement for all
By Katarzyna Anna Nawrot, Member of Polish Academy of Sciences Committee for Future Studies Poland 2000 Plus, Author of the book “The Rise of Megacities” and EYL40

What could be better than confronting your perceptions and learning about your prejudices? Erasmus should be expanded and made mandatory. It should also serve as a role model for the rest of the world of how to bring people together, challenge prejudices and develop a more open minded young generation.

Reevaluate Europe’s priorities in the post COVID world
By Danae Bezantakou, CEO of Navigator Shipping LTD and EYL40

Europe was, is and should remain at the world’s crossroad of democracy, culture, science, and innovation. However, the pandemic proved to all of us that nothing on earth is irreplaceable or unstoppable. It is therefore crucial that we try to remain as independent as possible, doing our best to ensure the sustainability of our planet. It’s time to unite and re-evaluate Europe’s priorities and focus on crisis management, technological evolution, adaptability, soft skills development, youth empowerment, integration, and geopolitics.

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