Imagine walking down the street, stopping a random person and asking them what they think about Europe. In the early 1950s, a TV crew did exactly that, and an elderly farmer woman replied, “Well, if it’s for peace, all right.” Sixty years later, the same question was asked of an elderly Ukrainian lady. It is 2014, during the weeks of the “Revolution of Dignity.” The lady proudly displays a huge expanse of wheat saying that, thanks to it, all of Europe would be fed. The delicacy with which the word “Europe” was pronounced then nowadays unfortunately seems to no longer exist.
In today’s public debate, Europe is often mentioned in connection with bad news, contradictions or, at best, major global problems to be addressed. Yet, in recent years, this “Europe” meant a lot when we needed solidarity during the pandemic and coordinated actions to deal with war and the climate crisis.
Shaken by crises, wars and challenges, European society finds itself divided and fearful. Instead of calm discourse and sound strategies capable of rebuilding a relationship of trust between leaders and civil society, we are faced with a growing number of forces amplifying divisions, fears and interference and acting with increasing force against European unity and solidarity.
This is the context in which the European elections will take place exactly one year from now. A very different one than even just five years ago, and extremely worrying. According to a Eurobarometer survey, almost nine in ten Europeans agree that values of democracy, fundamental rights and rule of law must be respected.
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Since World War II, democracy, freedom of movement and speech, economic growth, cultural exchanges, as well as friendships and love have sprung up where armies once passed. Yet even today, after 70 years of peace and union, many Europeans struggle to see this, to realise that the European Union is a model to aspire to for those living on its borders. We are the continent with the largest economic market, with the most comprehensive welfare system; with a great level of security.
Europe was born on the frontiers between states accustomed to fighting wars with each other, who decided to break down barriers, face their past and look forward to the future with confidence. Indeed, to paraphrase sociologist Abdelmalek Sayad, what happens on the frontiers of a community is a mirror of the “deeper contradictions of a society, its political organisation and its relations with other societies.”
Those frontiers that once passed through Verdun and the Somme are now found elsewhere, from Cutro to Kyiv; not to mention the frontiers between winners and losers of an insufficiently regulated globalisation, increasingly defined by the rift between economic centres and European peripheries. The living contradictions that define the new “frontiers” must therefore be addressed, in order to rediscover the original purpose and spirit of the European project.
According to the Eurobarometer, the predominant feelings among Europeans are, in order, uncertainty, frustration, powerlessness, anger, fear – all feelings that fuel the division of the Union. For more than one in three Europeans, however, hope dwells among those predominant feelings. Not a hope made up of empty, dreamy waiting, but an active, purposeful hope. The hope that drives so many, inside and outside the EU, to keep fighting for European values even at the cost of risking their lives.
Europe must live up to this hope for freedom.
The predominant feelings among Europeans are, in order, uncertainty, frustration, powerlessness, anger, fear – all feelings that fuel the division of the Union. For more than one in three Europeans, however, hope dwells among those predominant feelings
This is why, a year away from such crucial elections for our Union, in the face of so many forces that seek to leverage negative emotions and divisions, we want to build an alternative front, capable of proposing a different, concrete road to transform and relaunch Europe and its democracy. A road that starts by listening to those who will carry the weight of the future on their shoulders: the young people of Europe.
In the age of social media, young citizens can be particularly vulnerable to misinformation and have been heavily affected by recent events such as pandemic, war, inflation, joblessness, and climate anxiety. Our goal is to strengthen positive dialogue among young people, across borders and language barriers, in all their diversity.
We need to shape the political debate around young people’s priorities to rebuild trust and to make their priorities for the future of Europe central to the 2024 election campaign, replacing the agenda of fear and division with their “Agenda of Hope.”
This is how Europe and Hope will sound the same again: EurHope.
Today we invite all young citizens, all members of civil society, all member states, cities and regions, and all committed organisations to join the Revolution of Hope!
The signatories :
Gian Paolo ACCARDO, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Voxeurop; Alberto ALEMANNO, Jean Monnet Professor at HEC Paris, Founder of The Good Lobby; Antonio ARGENZIANO, President of JEF; Frédéric BAILLY, Executive Vice President of Groupe SOS, Secretary General of the Alliance Pact for Impact; Mikulás BEK, PhD, Minister for European Affairs of the Czech Republic; Laurent BERGER, Secretary General of the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT), President of the European Trade Union Confederation; Gabriele BISCHOFF, Member of the European Parliament; Jean Marc BORELLO, Founder and President of Groupe SOS; Damian BOESELAGER, Member of the European Parliament; Gilbert BOURSEUL, Managing Director of TOPICS; Maroua BOUZAIDA, Vice-President of Toulouse Métropole, in charge of citizen participation; Mercedes BRESSO, Member of the European Parliament, former President of the European Committee of the Regions; Jeanne BRETÉCHER, President of Social Good Accelerator; Marco CAPPATO, President of EUMANS, former Member of the European Parliament; Flavio BRUGNOLI, Director of the Centro Studi sul Federalismo; Karine CAUNES, Editor-in-Chief of the European Law Journal; Daniel COHN-BENDIT, former Member of the European Parliament; Fabio COLASANTI, former Director General of the European Commission; Alicia COMBAZ, CEO of Make. org; Olivier COSTA, Researcher at CNRS, Professor at the College of Europe; Axel DAUCHEZ, President of Make. org; Pier Virgilio DASTOLI, President of the Italian European Movement; Valérie DECAMP, Managing Director of Mediatransports; Tremeur DENIGOT, Co-President of CIVICO Europa; Adrien DUGUET, President of the association Civic Tech Europe; Eva EISLER, Professor, designer and artist; Virginia FIUME, Co-President of EUMANS; Cynthia FLEURY, Philosopher and psychoanalyst; Martial FOUCAULT, Director of CEVIPOF; Malte GALLÉE, Member of the European Parliament; Sandro GOZI, Member of the European Parliament, President of UEF; Veera HEINONEN, Director, Democracy and Participation, Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra; Gergely KARACSONY, Mayor of Budapest; Guillaume KLOSSA, Co-Chairman of CIVICO Europa, Founder of Europa Nova; Luca JAHIER, Vice-Chairman of the European Semester Group, former President of the European Economic and Social Committee; Benedek JÁVOR, former Member of the European Parliament; Zora JAUROVA, Producer, playwright, expert in cultural policy and creative industry; Christophe LECLERCQ, founder of the media network EURACTIV and Europe MediaLab; Nathalie LOISEAU, Member of the European Parliament, former French Minister for European Affairs; Biliana KOTSAKOVA, lawyer, human rights defender; Robert MENASSE, author; Isabelle NEGRIER, Director General of EuropaNova; Ignacy NIEMCZYCKI, President of the Board of Directors of the Bronislaw Geremek Foundation; Bertrand PANCHER, Member of the French National Assembly, President of “Décider ensemble”; Clémence PÈNE, Vice-President of “A Voté”; Francesca RATTI, former Deputy Secretary General of the European Parliament; Jacques RUPNIK, Emeritus Director of Research, Sciences Po, former adviser to Vaclav Havel; Emma SMETANA, artist, performer, journalist; Claus Haugaard SORENSEN, President of the Global Executive Leadership initiative, former Director General of the European Commission; Nathalie TOCCI, Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali; Inga WACHSMANN, President of Citizens for Europe.