Matteo Renzi, just 39, is the new Italian prime minister, but not without attracting some controversy. Beyond his political skills, he considers his relatively young age one of his strengths. Renzi is considered "an exponent of the Erasmus generation, comprised of young people who have almost exclusively lived in the time of the Euro, and who believe in European values promoted by the founders of the Union".
The rapid rise and success of the new Italian prime minister is a real encouragement for political involvement of the "Erasmus generation". As I recently I pointed out in an interview, political participation of this generation is still not visible enough. The "Erasmus generation" has gained a lot of experience, and it is a pity that they haven’t yet stepped to the fore. They prefer to remain in NGO structures, industry federations, the corporate sector or public administration, although they enjoy a good European training. Their involvement would be a benefit for the political class; they represent an extremely valuable resource. The younger political class has begun to take over, but the "Erasmus generation", the European educated ones, are still missing on the political stage.
It is not the case however that your (young) age means you are a representative of the Erasmus generation. Just as travelling in Europe does not mean you are part of the "Erasmus generation”. The “Erasmus generation” is a way of thinking; the nationalist discourse has nothing impact here, the destruction (even involuntary) of speech does not help. European tolerance, vision, openness to others - that's Erasmus generation!
I'm glad I was able to experience such a feeling: an experience of 4 years in the European Students Association (AEGEE) in my home city in Cluj, and then two years when I elected to the Board, in Brussels. Using this platform we launched projects with colleagues of different nationalities, participated in discussions in English, but also worked in French. The activities meant multinational team work, events in European capitals, and involvement in the future - the Europe 2020 project already discussed it in the 90s.
We need leaders in the EU from the Erasmus generation, next to the nationalist-activists, bureaucrats and businessmen in Europe!
Dan LUCA / Brussels