Two famous Europeans, the Green politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the Sociologist Ulrich Beck, initiated a new Manifesto „We are Europe“ for the truly establishment of a Europe of Citizens. The initiative is published via the Allianz Kulturstiftung and gathered many prominent First Signatories. The central proposal is to develop current structures of the Youth in Action programme, namely the European Voluntary Service (EVS), to a general European Year of Volunteering for Everyone.
Voluntary is nice but not so effective in this sense
The idea is good and it would really mean a step forward if “all” Europeans would undergo such an European experience. Everything the authors put forward is correct and the effects of such a programme would be a great European advantage. But even if we look on the long term perspective the fact that the initiative is still a “Voluntary” opportunity makes this proposal too narrowly considered. You will never reach “all” citizens if you offer a voluntary year in Europe. I’m not arguing against this initiative, I’m just saying that it is just another piece to the bigger puzzle.
Bring Europe to the school with a multidimensional approach
If you really would like to build Europe from the scratch as a Europe of Citizens I would suggest to implement a obligatory subject “Europe” in school in all member states. All citizens no matter what they will later be academics, craftsmen, full time mothers or whatever would receive the same “European” education. This should be a cross-subject approach meaning this “European” school subject would cover history, politics, geography as well as literature, arts and culture and even more topics. I already put this proposal forward some month ago already – earlier post.
The European Year of Volunteering for Everyone proposed by Cohn-Bendit and Beck could be an integrated part of this new European school curriculum. In this case we would really come out with a sustainable (not using this word just as a rhetoric symbol) approach to build the Europe of Citizens.