I am not sure what worries me the most; that old people don't believe in European integration anymore, or that young people have lost faith in social democracy. As a young progressive European, obviously I am a bit confused today. If social democratic parties in Europe start turning their back against the European Union in a desperate attempt to keep their voters satisfied, what's left for us then, as young European social democrats?
More than you would think.
Let's start with why am I so convinced that European integration is the only way forward. Where does this come from? Is it because I know my country has an expiration date because of strong separatist sentiments? Or is it because I live in one of the founding nations, next to the European Parliament and the Euro-bubble throws good parties?
Nothing like that really.
I believe in a deeper European integration, because the speed of globalization and digitalization calls for stronger regulatory authorities that can actually regulate it. Remember Microsoft? The European Commission made it pay a 497 million euro fine, for abusing its dominant position in the market. Would you see your government do that? I respect our democratically elected leaders, and I have confidence in (most of) them to know what's best for the people, but more and more I see those leaders compromise too much with large corporations being afraid they will move their business to neighboring countries. When you are in a relationship and your partner threatens you to leave you and take the children too, of course you make sacrifices. For the children right?
But who tolerates such power play? We need a European fiscal policy and stronger rules that gives power back to governments to make regulatory decisions that serve their citizens, rather than only its economy. Weirdly enough, this requires a stronger European integration, which involves a sacrifice in sovereignty. But I’d rather give up sovereignty to European leaders, than corporations.
But things need to change.
However, in order for that to happen, the European leadership should become a democratic leadership that serves all European citizens. Next to a fiscal policy, we need a social policy. That is something that we are still lacking today. The only thing I heard my party say for years, is that Europe should become more social. But they never said how and they never pushed for it. You cannot convince people you are giving them apples, but serving pears.
Young people are not responsible for this deep crisis, but let's take responsibility. The advantage of this situation, is that anything can still happen. Now that the UK has set a dangerous example and has gotten things moving without anyone knowing how this will end, and with a migration crisis that desperately needs an answer, we could use this ticking time bomb for the better. In order to do that, young people should get out, make their voices heard and start fighting for the future they want. There's work to do.