terça-feira, março 27, 2007

Jovens europeus reclamam mais democracia e legitimidade

Aqui fica uma primeira reação aos eventos de Roma e Berlim...

EU needs more legitimacy, say young Europeans
26.03.2007 - 09:27 CET By Lucia Kubosova

EUOBSERVER / ROME - Meeting in Rome on 24 and 25 March and mirroring the Berlin summit of EU leaders, young Europeans called for more legitimacy in the bloc's institutions, urging the reforms to be brought in as part of a new Constitution agreed by an EU-wide referendum.

"We are split in half on the current EU constitution. But we agree the new treaty business should be finished because otherwise it keeps haunting Europe although there are more important issues," said Bettina Schwarzmayr, from the European Youth Forum, co-organising the first EU youth summit with the European Commission.

Just like the Berlin meeting, the Rome summit agreed a declaration to mark the EU's 50th birthday which young people on Sunday handed over to representatives of the union's three main institutions - the parliament, commission and German presidency.

The drafting of the final text - unlike the secretly-prepared Berlin statement – was preceded by debates on local, regional and national levels, with around 200 summit participants discussing its details in six working groups during their two-day meeting in Rome.

"It was tough but it was worth it. Now we can truly say it is a declaration of young Europeans, as opposed to the text drawn by the German presidency in such an in transparent way," said the summit's rapporteur Ernest Urtasun from Spain.

"One of the key messages from our debates is that the European project needs to take a step back. We need to work on legitimacy of European institutions and mainly involve national parliaments because the people we elect cannot be silent on issues decided at EU level," he added.

The European Parliament's vice-president Alejo Vidal-Quadras promised the youngsters that MEPs would look into their recommendations.

But he played down their criticism of the declaration produced by a closed circle around the German chancellor Angela Merkel, arguing it was always going to spark some disappointment given that there had been such great expectations of it.

"The Berlin declaration cannot be a message of God from Mount Sinai. It has been very difficult to agree on the same text and that's why it also can't be very clear. At most, you can get clear obscurity or obscure clarity, just like other European documents," Mr Vidal-Quadras told EUobserver.

Very concrete on what they want. Although divided in their views on the EU constitution adopted in Rome in 2004 and rejected the following year by French and Dutch citizens – and predominantly by young people - the youth summit agreed its core should be saved.

The participants argued that the revised treaty should drop the third part of the current draft on EU policies and then be put to vote by citizens in EU-wide referendum.

"It is good they feel devoted and want to use available instruments to influence decisions on Europe," said EU youth and education commissioner Jan Figel.

"But we all need to combine ambitions with realism," he added.

The young activists' wishlist included an EU strategy for public transportation and a push for more railways, zero greenhouse emissions vehicles, and reduced flights within the continent.

They also called for increased EU funds for NGOs, European history and EU issues to be included in formal national curricula, and the voting age to be lowered to 16, with a final exclamation: "Listen to what we have to say, ask us what we need and then act!"

The American author and economist Jeremy Rifkin praised their statement, mainly for its focus on the sustainable development, inclusivity and promotion of human rights.

"A lot of regions in the world are looking to Europeans for guidance on how we can live in a globally connected world," he told EUobserver, adding that Europeans should also relax a bit and realize what they have achieved through their "EU experiment."