Young people discuss Europe. The Young European Professionals, or YEPs for short,
want to actively particiapte in and shape the European Union. They've volunteered for a
programm run by Germany's Federal Agency for Civic Education during which they share
their knowledge and ideas about Europe with their peers. They're enthusiastic Europeans,
Svetlana Alenitskaya – Federal Agency for Civic Education
«We don't want unthinking enthusiasm. We want thoughtful enthusiasm. An enthusiasm
for making things better in Europe. It's not about questioning the idea of Europe
alltogether, it's about pointing out that Europe has its advantages, but that it's not perfect.
What we have here with the EU is great, but not everything about it is good.“
Things may not always be great, but a lot of the European Union works better than people
think. And yet public perceptions are often dominated by predjudice. That's why the YEPS
are motivated to answer the questions of their peers in schools.
Linh Chi Nguyen - YEP
«What I understood from what I heard today is that people are often very radical or know
nothing at all. It's not them not knowing enough, they're not interested in politics at all.“
Christian Gonder - YEP
«The EU can only work in the long term if this process of European unity is democratically
legitimized. And without the public, there can be no democratic legitimisation. That's why
we have to make sure that people know why we pass powers to Brussels. There's nothing
negative about it. On the contrary. We hand over certain powers to make us better able to
act elsewhere. The whole world is growing together in the course of globalisation, and
some people are thinking about re-nationalisation. That's a contradiction.“
The elections to the European Parliament are a real motivation for the YEPS, and a
genuine challenge. There are new rules, and for the first time the parties can nominate a
member to run for the office of European Commission President. So the electorate's power
is growing. All citizens of any member nation over 18 years of age are eligible to vote, but
not all of those who are eligibile seem to be aware of it.
Andreas Christ - YEP
«People underestimate the impact this has on national politics. The European Parliament
has more power today than it's ever had, and taking that into consideration, the level of
disinterest is much too high.“
There's lots of discussion and argumentation in the workshops, opinions are aired, and
there's no set agenda. The peer-to-peer method as its known is one of the YEPs recipe for
success. The visits they pay to schools are not lectures, they're encounters.
Svetlana Alenitskaya – Federal Agency for Civic Education
«We give other young people the whole range of possible opinions and stances, and it's
up to them to decide what position they then adopt.“
Decide what you think, but use your freedom of opinion to make a decision. It's the YEPs
credo. And perhaps many people in the EU make far too little use of their freedoms.
Nils Büsking - YEP
«I think it's much better to argue about the ingredients of toffees than smash each others
doors down with tanks.“