“40 UNDER 40” - European Young Leaders programme
On the 1st of February 2014 the New Pact for Europe was presented at the 40 under 40 Young European Leaders Conference organised jointly by Friends of Europe and Europanova in Brussels. As part of a 3-day seminar, the discussion on the New Pact for Europe Project centered on five possible strategic options for European integration and their consequences. The ‘40 under 40’ and the invited speakers were asked to react to the strategic options put forward by the Reflection Group and give their vision of the future of the European Union.
The session commenced by Janis A. Emmanouilidis presenting the 5 strategic options for Europe’s future from the first report of the New Pact for Europe project. In response, the speakers Phillipe Van Parijs and Jon Worth argued in support of Option 5 ‘Changing the More/Less Europe Logic’, albeit with different visions of how to fundamentally rethink the course of European integration, and Andrew Duff chose to defend Option 4, ‘Leaping Forward’.
Amongst other points, Phillipe Van Parijs stressed that ‘what we need from Europe is not just competition and productivity’, but a Europe that ‘cares for its people’. In his eyes, the European Union’s competencies should be extended to include social policy, establishing a modest universal income funded by VAT. Andrew Duff underlined the urgency to address pressing governance issues since the ‘Lisbon Treaty has been stretched to the breaking point’ and ‘if we don’t solve the constitutional crisis we will disintegrate’. Particularly, he made it clear that the government of the EU ‘should not just be elected democratically but rule democratically’. Jon Worth highlighted the importance of pressure groups, rather than political parties, as tools to increase participative democracy.
Some of the 40 under 40 European leaders argued for a version of Option 5, although criticism was voiced that Option 5 is in fact a paradigm shift that informs the other options rather than an option in its own right. One of the participants argued for an option 2.5. A few participants stipulated a revolutionary change in logic as a 6th option. Ideas for a 6th option included mobilizing European citizens not through political parties but specific projects and focusing to a greater extent on creating a European cultural space to bolster a European identity.