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One million Europeans for millions Europeans

The European Citizens’ Initiative Fraternity 2020 wants to get Europe moving

, by Translated by Julien Hagelstein, Philippe Perchoc

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The year 2011 stood for bank’s bail out. The year 2012 stood for feverish meetings about austerity. What if 2013 would stand for Europeans? We seriously need it! Never have we seen so many Heads of State and Government criss-crossing Europe by plane or by train in order to save the banks, the financial system, the budgets, the latest bail-out as well as to redirect, renegotiate, announce… In short, they bustle about. To be sure, we hear them talking about saving Europe…But saving Europeans? Never heard that before…

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Yet, 2013 is the European Year of Citizens. On 1st April 2012, taking advantage of the opportunity given by the Treaty of Lisbon (link), a committee composed of 54 European citizens proposed to the Commission the European Citizens’ Initiative Fraternity 2020 (link) about Europeans’ mobility, so that we too can bustle about. The proposition is simple: we want to devote eventually 10% of the European budget to the whole of exchange programs between Europeans (young people, students, workers, unemployed people, with or without a driving licence… that’s to say everyone, even eurosceptics), to develop acquired competences during the stay and to better evaluate the benefits of these exchanges.

One element has been observed: since the beginning of the Erasmus program, only 1% of the students have been involved in this program. Is this enough? No. Yet, the multiplication of these exchanges possesses an exceptional added-value (as would say the rating agencies): development of professional abilities, mobility on the European labour market, increase of the knowledge of Europeans. Whereas European speeches refer to a “Europe on the move”, we champion the cause of a real Europe of Europeans that “moves” from one country to the other. The AAA Europe: active, available and acting.

The proposition resulted from the discussion of a Committee composed of 54 Europeans: two from each Member State (whereas the Commission advocates 7 citizens from 7 Member States) in order to make it the widest, the most thoughtful and the most understandable as possible. Building up an ECI is a great adventure. Beyond the linguistic problem, we must find a common language, we must mobilize networks and we must have a European momentum in this space fragmented into 27 countries. Now that the Commission agreed us to be the first ECI, our aim is to find one million signatures of European citizens to promote this idea. The petition has already been signed by 57,000 citizens. Only 943,000 left, that’s to say less than one European out of 500. More than 100 NGO’s support Fraternity 2020, as well as more than 50 MEPs, more than 50 European university students, a Hungarian rock band, a Lithuanian basketball player, a Belgian DJ and I hope you will soon join them.

Thus, with Fraternity 2020, let’s make 2013 the Year of every European!

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