BM 66 – Democracy is the core value of the EU – remember to vote!
The European Students’ Union (ESU) believes that democracy is one of the core values of the European Union (EU) and appeals to all EU citizens, especially young people, to vote in the European Parliament (EP) elections held in all the 28 EU member states during the four-day election period from 22 to 25 May 2014.
In recent years, the education sector has been an object for harmful cuts in many European countries, due to the economic crisis and austerity measures. Higher education funding remains a competency of member states. Still, ESU stands for an education that is publicly funded and equally accessible. It should campaign for all the next elected members of the EP to support its vision. Some EU countries have tried to introduce tuition fees for national as well as international students, not only forgetting the public responsibility for education, but also the international students’ significant impact on the quality of higher education in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). During the next mandate MEPs’ should prioritize and pay attention to measures to reduce inequality rising from tuition fees between EU and non-EU/EEA students, as well as to reform residence permit regulations for third country nationals.
According to Eurostat, youth unemployment rate reached 23.4% this year in the EU, in some member states it was even above 50%, and many of the unemployed youth were graduates. Graduate unemployment is one of the major setbacks to Europe’s economic growth and well-being, which must be dealt with by the next parliament.
ESU states that the civil society’s voice is important both during the elections and afterwards, therefore, the European student and youth organisations’ work must be supported in the EU budget with operational and project grants. ESU acknowledges that the funding for the ERASMUS+ programme rose significantly in the new budget period, but it is not enough to cover mobility among higher education students. Furthermore, ESU states that the newly implemented loan scheme for Master’s students should be critically evaluated and take into account the students’ needs and experience to ensure full equality in higher education. It is crucial that the European Students’ Union will be one of the key partners in this process.
The EU was founded on equality, liberty and democracy, and therefore, its decisions should be transparent and involving – students have to be equal partners in the decision-making process.
ESU appeals to all young people in Europe to raise their voices and vote responsibly in the European Parliament elections, taking into consideration that every vote shapes our future Europe and education.