Is Europe on the right track? – Not at all!

In Madrid after a lively discussion with AEGEE-Madrid about the problems of youth in Spain,
we attended a meeting with Ricardo Ibarra Roca, head of the Spanish Youth Council and
Marco Dosantos, a representative of a Spanish organisation for LGBT-Rights.

They explained the political situation from their perspective, stressing out the difficulties
the youth organisations are facing. On the one hand there is a problem of visibility and
recognition for these organisations by the officials and by the public. On the other hand
recently the government cut their funds up to 50%, which makes their work very difficult,
as well as tackling the issue of visibility.

Right now the Spanish Youth organisations rely mostly on European funds, like Youth in Action
money, but it is not sure what will happen with these in the new EU budget from 2014 to 2020.
So the situation looks a bit precarious. Yet there is hope since people start realizing their problems
and slowly start fighting them.

The political apathy that grew in most parts of society seems to be on the retreat,
yet people don’t know how to act and how to use their frustrations constructively,
which might be some reason why so many protest on the streets. Regarding this
the importance of educating children to become active citizens was mentioned,
to already teach them in school to find others sharing their interests and show
them all the associations that already exist, waiting for their contribution. Obviously
the new school subject of „Citizenship“ had been introduced for several years,
but was turned down due to protests by the church and conservatives, since
it also educated children about gay-rights.

In Spain this problem is also a structural one, because the sector of Youth organisations
and active citizenship is only growing for 30 years and before during the dictatorship
this mindset didn’t exist at all and was not promoted, which makes Education an even
more pressing issue.

In the end Ricardo admitted: „We can not make big changes as national Youth council,
but we can introduce small ones here and there.  As young people are not as important
as voters as for example retired people they need to lobby even harder and this is
one of the tasks of the Youth Council.“

Do you have an example for political measures you are promoting?

„As well we promote political actions, like the Youth Guarantee, which will be tested in a pilot project
in the region of Murcia. So we can proof that it works.“

So is Europe on the right track?

„No, not at all, right now we are on the middle of the road and if we dont move we will be hit by a car. Europe can move forward or backwards, but it can not stay like this. I think we have to move on to a more federal Europe with a strong European central bank, to take back the sovereignty over our money. The situation in Greece, Spain and Portugal can not stay like this, because the money goes to the banks and the people are suffering.“