BM86: ESU resolution on European Parliament Elections 

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In one month, the citizens of the 27 member states of the European Union will be invited to cast their ballots for determining the path that the Union will take in turbulent times, marked with complex global developments.  

Amidst increasing Eurosceptic, extremist movements that risk derailing the common achievements of the European project, socio-economic challenges, backlashes against the climate targets, increased mistrust in political institutions or a frail geopolitical context, with war within our continent, our message as students is  clear: we are committed to defending a strong, inclusive, prosperous, and democratic  Europe, that respects human rights, the environment, and our liberties. We encourage  all students within the European Union to contribute to these ideals and urge them to make their voices and preferences heard at the ballot box.   

Already in November 2022, ESU adopted its Student Manifesto for the European Elections: 24 proposals for the 2024 European Elections, which was then advocated for  towards the main centrist European political parties. Our manifesto revolves around 4  key areas: a European social dialogue on higher education; a student-social Europe; a  European Education Area for all the students; a future-proof higher education and puts forward concrete measures that the EU can promote to improve students’ lives.  The European Union can support students and higher education in various meaningful  ways, despite having only supportive competence, and the specific condition of  students in the many challenges our continent faced in the last years was usually  overlooked.  

In the meanwhile, all European political parties have published their own manifestos  for the European elections, and ESU is publishing a review of the degree to which  these manifestos include matters that relate to students. We positively concluded  that 5 political parties have integrated supporting Erasmus+ in their manifesto, a  mark of its wide success. However, few other priorities of students and young people  have been integrated, and the discrepancy between manifestos is wide.  

To increase the mobilization of students, European parties have to be bolder in  committing to policies that matter for young people, show results, be accountable  and, through their representatives in decision-making positions, create a strong  culture of political participation and stakeholder engagement that does not intensify  only in the months preceding an election.  

ESU calls on all European political parties to prioritize education in the  

negotiations for the election of the upcoming European Commission and the determination of political priorities that will be included in the 2019-2024  

Political Guidelines of the European Commission. 

Education is the basis for a prosperous Europe, able to navigate the digital and  green transitions. Recently, the pivotal role of education in the EU’s future, as part of a ‘fifth freedom’, has been highlighted by Enrico Letta’s report on the single market.

However, despite its standing as the first article of the European Pillar of Social  Rights, the progress on achieving an inclusive European Education Area is lackluster.  

While included in the Grenada Declaration of the European Council and, most probably,  in its future Strategic Agenda, investment in education for all lacks the required magnitude as well as a holistic approach. In this sense, the coordination between different policy areas related to education is at many times difficult, risking fragmentation and sometimes a narrow view on education, focused exclusively on the labor market.  

Considering the responsibility of the European Parliament to continuously advocate for democratic processes, as the house of European democracy, we call on the future members of the European Parliament to: 

  • require the establishment of a governance framework of the European Education  
  • Area that includes democratically elected representatives of the stakeholders;
  • champion the participation of stakeholders in the Erasmus+ governance, while also working for significantly boosting its budget; 
  • call for policies that ensure an upward convergence of student rights within the  
  • European Education Area, including democratic participation of students in the European University Alliances as a creation of the EEA; 
  • ensure better representation of stakeholder views in the proceedings of the European Parliament committees, including through hearings and common activities. For students, this particularly applies to the CULT Committee, but not only. The chairs of the parliamentary committees should pledge to this approach when being selected; 
  • ensure better coordination of increased EU investment funds for education  (cohesion funds, the Recovery and Resilience Facility, Digital Europe etc), via the European Education Area governance, and include stakeholders in the process; 
  • include national and European stakeholders in the European Semester. 

The European Parliament should lead by example in engaging stakeholders without falling into the trap of tokenism. The Parliament should also call out practices of other European institutions that, in spite of the democratic values of the EU and the image it aims to conveys externally, seek to replace or dilute the role of legitimate  student representatives with tokenistically selected students or student groups, that  would invariably enforce their views and preferences. While wrongly portrayed as  public consultation or citizen engagement, this does not only represent a move  against the values that the EU stands for, but also weakening of the student movement  itself, a source of increased mistrust and disengagement.  

Finally, the Parliament should make sure that the tools it creates to increase youth  participation, such as the Youth Check, does not actually spiral into more tokenism,  and that it acts on the expectations the European young people place on it, such as  banning unpaid internships, including student/curricular internships.  

As student representatives, we are aware of our role to play in building the Europe of today and tomorrow and defending its ideals. To be up to the challenges that  Europe faces, the decision-makers must bring all democratic forces on board.  


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