AEGEE-Europe sadly acknowledges the poor outcome of the summit of the Council of the European Union on 7th and 8th of February, where the European Union’s heads of states agreed upon the European Union’s Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020. An agreement was reached which satisfies rather those EU members’ states which prefer to keep the European Union’s means of action limited.
For the very first time, the overall expenditure limit of the MFF has been reduced compared to the previous budget, and this after the approval of the Lisbon Treaty which increases the competences of the EU institutions, after the entry of a new country like Croatia in 2013 and now when Europe needs a strong EU more than ever. “What kind of commitment to Europe do the heads of Members States present to their citizens when cutting the budget of the EU for the next 7 years?” wonders Luis Alvarado Martinez, President of the European Students’ Forum (AEGEE-Europe).
At a time when all eyes are turned towards the European Union to face the financial and economic crisis and when it is well known that citizens are losing trust in the European Institutions, the 27 Member States have preferred to keep a low profile and not to provide the European Union with ambitious means of actions. AEGEE-Europe regrets that EU heads of states have decided to effectively limit the power of the European Union by cutting its budget for the next 7 years. Once more, Members States are failing to give the EU a real chance to bring political answers to the citizens, while preserving their national interests.
The lack of solidarity of some of the European leaders is a worrying sign of short-sighted vision and lack of perspective. AEGEE wishes to express its profound disappointment with the leading national officials, who are now giving an unfortunate, but clear signal to the EU citizens that the future of Europe will have to continue on a turbulent road.
Drafting ambitious plans to keep Europe as a leading player on the worldwide arena is pointless if later the European Council cannot agree on a budget that allows the EU to make those plans reality. The goals of the Europe 2020 strategy will never be achieved if the Member States do not believe in it. The European Union cannot afford a delay in achieving the objectives set up in critical areas such as employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy.
Regarding the budget of educational and youth schemes, AEGEE-Europe acknowledges the efforts of the Council of the European Union to preserve this crucial field and to limit the cuts of the Youth and Education programmes under the name of Erasmus for All, as proposed by the European Commission, and to keep as a top priority investments which will benefit employment. However, AEGEE-Europe had expected an increase of the investment in this field from European leaders.
What comes next…?
As a students’ platform promoting European integration, AEGEE-Europe is worried to see how the gap widens between the expectations European citizens have of the EU and the actual means it has for taking action. Moreover, we fear that this agreement will not strengthen the competitiveness of the European economy, but will weaken it.
AEGEE-Europe encourages the European Parliament and the European Commission, who will now have to give a reply to this council’s agreement, to show their discontent and to request a more daring commitment to the European Union and its aims from the side of Member States. It is now upon their shoulders to stand up for a budget suited to the European Union’s competences and objectives. Anything less will be a step back in the construction of Europe.
AEGEE was born 27 years ago with the vision of creating a unified Europe, based on democracy and respect for human rights, bringing together students with different cultural backgrounds. Today, AEGEE is Europe’s largest interdisciplinary youth organisation: 40 countries, 200 cities, 13 000 friends. This network provides the ideal platform for young volunteers to work together on cross-border activities such as international conferences, seminars, exchanges, training courses and case study trips. In line with the challenges young people are currently facing in Europe, AEGEE’s work for the period of 2011-2014 is focused on three main areas: Youth Participation, Bridging Europe and Inclusion of Minorities.
If you would like to know more about AEGEE, please contact:
European Institutions and Communications Director of AEGEE-Europe
Phone: +32 2 246 0320
Mobile: +32 487 410 060