A young friend of mine was interested in knowing what the European Economic and Social committee is all about. He googled and then reacted:
– Not bad.
This sounded like a promising signal to start chatting, and I began to cautiously stimulate him to discuss the EU and its role.
The youngster has travelled a lot, he has school mates from different countries and his parents are involved in international business. But still, he has many reservations and categorical opinions on the European Union.
I therefore asked what he thinks about nationalistic and anti-EU movements.
– Not very clever.
For him the EU is not, however, a relevant topic because of a simple reason: He takes the EU for granted, as well as any benefits the EU has brought about.
So I wanted to make the achievements of the European integration visible to him. I reminded him of the time when the small company established by his grandfather found new customers in Central Europe. As a result the enterprise was able to grow, new jobs have been created and the family now runs a profitable and prosperous firm. I also reminded him of the choice of goods and services to which he has access across Europe, thanks to the open markets.
After a while, I asked if he was going to seek a job abroad. Or maybe he could become an entrepreneur and grow globally?
– No problem with me.
I was happy to recognize that he was willing to make use of the opportunities of free movement of people and capital.
To challenge his European identity further, I argued that internal cohesion is a necessity for the EU to be a strong global player, whether trade, security, energy or climate policies are concerned.
– Nothing new to me.
My optimism began to grow. I stopped convincing and started listening to his ideas. He replied quickly:
– You did’nt say anything about peace. Nor did you mention the precious European values.
He then gave me a lecture on the importance of the rule of law, equal opportunities, and the link between individual rights and responsibilities.
At the end, I dared to ask him about his view on the future of the EU. He gave a familiar reply:
– Not bad.
I provoked him to keep on.
– No matter how much you grown-ups moan and groan. I have a dream – and yes, we can. One day I and my best friends will provide you with a platform for gathering the views and needs of all European enterprises and citizens. And based on this big data, joint opinions will then be generated for the European Institutions.
I wondered whether this idea makes our Committee redundant. But he responded with a cool comment:
– Not at all. It will just make you a bit more modern and inclusive.
Now it was my turn to react:
– Not so bad at all…