< SWITCH ME >

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Photo: Nacho Rascón (flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If 21 April 2002 is a date all French citizens remember as the historical breakthrough of the extreme-right Front National party, 23 April 2017 will be remembered as a turning point in French politics. The two parties which have structured and dominated the French political scene for the past decades have crumbled to pieces and have been washed away by a so-called “anti-system” wave.

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Photo: Outi-Maaria Palo-oja (flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0

With major changes under way in Europe, issues such as widening economic and social disparities, growing Eurosceptic sentiments and the uncertain future of European integration are looming larger than ever. Policy-wise, an indication of the things to come is the recently published White Paper on the Future of Europe, where only two (No 1 “Carrying On” and No 5 “Doing much more together”) of the five outlined scenarios envisage piecemeal change. In terms of human capital, however, both the issues and the solutions are contained in EU staples, such as the European Voluntary Service (EVS), a youth-oriented mobility programme, reflecting the existing social gaps, but also, subject to reform, uniquely positioned to narrow them.

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Photo: zsoolt (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0
Central European University main entrance

A magical thing happened last week in Budapest – Europe became one notch more erratic and even less predictable. Viktor Orbán, the democratically elected leader of Hungary, in a befittingly authoritarian fashion, passed new legislation on Tuesday, April 4, reflecting its maker’s fondness of political control of science. The legal amendment was fast-tracked, with only a few hours given to lawmakers to seal the fate of academic freedom in the country. It was also tailor-made to fit the long-standing desire of the Central European University, one of Eastern Europe’s top-level universities, located in Budapest, to collect its things and beat it. Leaving behind such a gash in liberal values, that given time it can swallow Hungary, the European Union and, eventually, Uranus.

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Photo courtesy: Bernhard Ludewig
Musical Opening by Cielo Faccio Orkestar

These are the words of the manifesto “We Are Europe!” proposed by Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Ulrich Beck in 2012, a conceptual platform, driven by the far-reaching aspiration to create a Europe for everyone and reform the prevailing Europe of elites and technocrats. “Don’t ask what Europe can do for you but ask what you can do for Europe – by Doing Europe!” reads the manifesto. Motivated by the manifesto’s strong messages back in 2012 Allianz Kulturstiftung together with 14 partner organisations across Europe launched the European Voluntary Service for All (EVS4ALL) project – an ambitious plan striving for more inclusive and accessible European Voluntary Service (EVS), one of the European Union’s flagship instruments for boosting mobility, youth employability and social cohesion in Europe. On the 20th and 21st of March 2017, this pilot project came to a close with the conference “Volunteering for Social Change”, where the project’s outcomes, policy recommendations, and experiences were shared and further steps discussed.

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NEXT ISSUE 01.07.2017