Growing number of EU youth hungry for change, decentralization from Brussels
Students for Liberty are an international organization, which provides a unified front for students who are “dedicated to liberty”. Recently it has seen its membership swell in Europe by young people dissatisfied with the political status quo.
“It’s very exciting to see this growth all over Europe, and the demand is huge for these ideas,” Wolf Von Laer, one of the organizers of a recent Student for Liberty conference, told RT.
They are not backed by any political party but are organized by young people for young people. Many of its members are unhappy with the way the European Union has developed in recent years and are pushing for change.
“I think its [Europe] quite a dangerous situation because that means you have politicians and bureaucrats ruling over nearly 500 million people, not necessarily do they know always what the best things are for us,” Matej Arsenak Ogorevc told RT.
They want more freedom for people to do business in the EU, less interference from bureaucrats and the decentralization of power away from Brussels.
“In today’s Europe, the most important problem with the EU is the overextension of the initial goals, they were designed to maintain peace, to have a free market, to make sure people could move more freely around Europe and now they are starting to build a new nation, or trying to build a new nation,” said Nick Roskams.
As financial crisis and austerity grip much of the south of the continent, many people in Europe are starting to feel their own power is being gradually taken away from them.
Lost generation of ‘Neets’
A report published in the Guardian in the autumn of last year by the EU’s research agency Eurofond, found that there was a lost generation of 14 million out of work and disengaged young Europeans, which are costing member states €153 billion a year, or 1.2% of the EU’s gross domestic product.
Eurofond found that a growing number of 15 to 29 year olds (known as Neets) are not in employment, education or training.
“The consequences of a lost generation are not merely economic, but are societal, with the risk of young people opting out of the democratic participation in society,” the report warns.
The Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe warned that the EU was “failing in its social contract” with the young and this may cause the same kind of political disenchantment that causes uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East in the so-called Arab spring.
“I think it [Student’s for Liberty] is an expression that young people in Europe feel stripped of their own rights almost; we have 50% unemployment among young people in Spain. How can you feel empowered when you can’t get a job,” said Alexandra Ivanov.
Even in Germany, which hasn’t suffered any of the financial crisis plaguing other European countries, polls show that many of the under 40’s have little interest in the rest of the continent’s problems.
The survey taken in 2011 by Eurobarometer, found that while a decade ago Germans under the age of 40 saw themselves as European, only 50% said they felt being part of the European Union was a good thing, while only 23% felt that Germany has a responsibility to bail out Greece.
While paradoxically, a recent survey in the UK by the pollster YouGov, found that the majority of young people in Britain back the “European Project”. 40% of British 18-34 year olds are concerned that the UK would be isolated if it left the EU.
The UK is not in the euro and has long had a complicated relationship with the continent that allows it to enjoy many of the benefits of EU membership while safeguarding control of its financial industries and many of its traditions.