Why should the European Commission have a commissioner for youth? The answer is simple: because it’s possible and because it would be useful. It would be politically useful as a signal and action at EU and national level. The situation of young people varies from country to country, but their unemployment was high on the agenda of the European Council in the last year or so, talking about new strategies, new amounts allocated to solve this issue and beyond. The European political class realizes that the number of young people will become increasingly more "indignant" if their situation changes. The danger is both a social bomb and a political risk is more votes for populists, growing especially in Western Europe.
First, it's important to speak about needs. The world has changed, and the crisis is only the latest manifestation of change. The truth is that Western European parents were more fortunate than their children, growing up in a period of expansion: the "30 glorious years" between the 60s and 80s, when the European economy grew continuously, increasing purchasing power, and prosperity. People were able to buy their homes at good prices. Nowadays young people live with their parents or are tenants - very few are actual owners. In the East, parents did not have the joy of freedom that they now have when they were young, but there was an opportunity in the early '90s to buy their apartments at promotional prices, at least in Romania. The housing situation of young people in the East is not so great either though. We need to learn to be more mobile, looking for a better situation.
Whatever the options, there is a need for an integrated approach to young Europeans. And although theoretically everything related to employment policies is a national competence, a European plan will be determined by stimulating the competitiveness of the European economy. Indeed, if we focus on preparing young people for the new wave of technology, unemployment will only increase with socio-political unpredictable consequences. Therefore, investment in competitiveness in the new industrial revolution from Brussels will be key in the coming months and years. At the same time, young people will have to rediscover mobility beyond what they know now and continuously improve: we go where the jobs are if we are not able to create one at the place we are at. It is also necessary to understand that globalization is a great opportunity: those who focus only on the local market, whatever it may be, will not have as many opportunities as those focused by a transnational vision - and action.
Dan LUCA / Brussels