18. October 2013
European leaders must take swift and efficient action on the political issues at their agenda at the upcoming Summit. This was the conclusion of a meeting of participants of FutureLab Europe and students at the College of Europe when they met on 17 October in Bruges, as the “European Youth Council”.
On the digital agenda they are calling on all member states to introduce more e-government solutions, allowing citizens to individually interact with the state, bearing in mind the need for standardized communication.
They also recommend developing a unified system for the digital identity for citizens for their e-interaction with the state, and finally advocate that member states join the Open Government Partnership.
The group advocates creating a team of EU-wide Innovation Officers, who should be responsible for analysing completed scientific research and ensuring that the potential market or social value for practical implementation or commercialisation is utilised. These Innovation Officers would come from a multi-disciplinary background between science, management and finance, acting as one-man incubators bringing technology, labour and capital to these ideas.
Additionally, they would act as facilitators, creating synergies between local incubators and other potential partners all over the continent.
To assist them in these tasks, a European centralized on-line database of the research produced by all European universities (accepted FP7 programmes and other EU-funded programmes connected to R&D) should be developed. This database will connect scientists, universities and companies creating the European Library for Innovation Stakeholders (ELIS). Additionally, ELIS could also serve as a live exchange platform for these stakeholders.
They finally recommend introducing a new chapter within the ERASMUS PLUS entitled “Social and Technological Innovation”. This new chapter is envisioned to bring together young innovators, sponsors or innovating ideas.
In order to developdigital literacy and competences, which are critical for dynamic and innovative societies, it is strongly suggested adding programming and understanding how computers work as part of the general education curriculum in all the EU member states.
Youth unemployment is Europe’s most important political issue today and lack of action in this area can have serious ramifications for the future of Europe. Concretely, the European Youth Council proposes to create new mobility programmes for aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs and to create a standardized, comprehensive and EU-wide database of job vacancies in order to enable young people to find jobs in other EU countries.
In addition, member states’ youth initiatives should be supported by additional funds and already existing programmes of advancement in the area of unemployment and ensuring their effective and efficient implementation should be rapidly supported.
Promotion of youth entrepreneurial initiatives by means of creating a European venture capital fund within a public private partnership framework; enabling the bridging of innovative ideas to financial support. Implementing comprehensive tax breaks for newly-founded companies for a defined limited period.
On the long-term, the European Youth Council further suggests phasing out unpaid internships. They advocatethe incremental implementation of laws prohibiting unpaid internships for young people who have completed education and finally, the creation of programmes to raise awareness of non-tertiary education and corresponding opportunities for employment at earlier stages in their educational careers, thus creating a system of early life career support.
On the European Neighbourhood Policy, the European Youth Council regrets the lack of vision in Europe’s policy towards its neighbours in the East and also the lack of willingness to change in the Eastern neighbourhood countries. This prevents us from having a harmonious situation in the wider Europe, which could indeed lead to higher prosperity and well-being for all Europeans.
The Youth Council proposes that the countries should be addressed separately, not in one package; it makes no sense to have a common policy towards all Eastern Partnership countries, but the approach selected should also cover the long-term. Human rights should be at the top of the agenda. The visa liberalization process should be accelerated, and there should be more investment in civil society, education, scientific cooperation and energy. In conclusion, the Youth Council finds that the EU needs a change of approach so that different incentives could be given to different countries. The EU needs to change the funding structure and invest more in civil society, educational exchanges, and scientific cooperation.
More information about the European Youth Council here