New EU Commission? We’re not there yet
The power reshuffle in the EU is not over yet! This month the new European Parliament has been holding hearings for candidate Commissioners, putting them to the test to determine if they are the right people to lead Europe forward over the next 5 years. With each hearing lasting three hours and thanks to their statements and questions from MEPs, Europeans through their elected Parliament now have more insight into the plans, priorities and proposals of the new European Commission. In advance of the final vote by the European Parliament, it’s time to look back over what we’ve learned and the big question marks that are still unanswered.
Mariya Gabriel - Innovation and Youth
Although this portfolio designated to Mariya Gabriel has youth in the title, we were left with some big gaps in Gabriel’s answers during her hearing on 30 September. With much of the focus being placed on research, innovation and digital, young people were unfortunately sidelined in the discussions. We were, however, very happy to hear Gabriel’s commitment to tripling the budget of the Erasmus Programme, in particular the emphasis on expanding the programme to become much more inclusive as well as recognising the added value of non-formal education and the role of youth organisations. Now all eyes are on the Member States to actually secure the tripling of the Erasmus Programme.
Don’t forget about: young people’s participation in society. How are you, Mariya Gabriel, planning to engage directly with young people and youth organisations?
Margaritis Schinas - Protecting the European Way of Life
While a significant portion of nominee Vice President Schinas’ hearing on 3 October addressed a number of concerns on the controversial portfolio title, he was also tested on some other issues as well. On education and employment, Schinas spoke on the need to foster entrepreneurship, standardise traineeships and promote European values of justice, equality and democracy through education.
Don’t forget about: protecting young people’s rights! Young people still face barriers to accessing their rights, we need policies that take a rights-based approach. Youth organisations have been vital to promote the “European Way of Life”. We are ready to continue this.
Nicolas Schmit - Jobs
Employment, the future of work and social protection are all of crucial importance to young people. In his hearing on 1 October, Schmit gave a clear message that unemployment undermines the credibility of Europe, and rightly identified youth as having suffered the most. We were pleased to hear that Schmit gives his full commitment to improving the Youth Guarantee, and understands the need for greater recognition of vocational education and training. In addition, Schmit underlined the importance of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which we are happy to see turning into action.
Don’t forget about: the future of work. Not all young people want to be self-employed, we need sustainable jobs that give security and ensure well-being.
Frans Timmermans - European Green Deal
Executive Vice-President nominee, Timmermans has a lot on his shoulders. Tasked with implementing the European Green Deal, he will lead the way in delivering the new Commission’s goal for Europe: to be the world’s first climate neutral continent. In his hearing on 8 October, we expected big ambition and bold proposals. While he did identify areas where the EU must do more to tackle the climate crisis, we found his answers a bit too vague and without any concrete plan.
Don’t forget about: involving young people in shaping a green Europe. We are the generation who are pushing world leaders to act. It is not just our future at stake but also our present.
Other important hearings were Commissioner-designate Didier Reynders (for the Justice portfolio, on rule of law and modernising justice systems), Vice President-designate Věra Jourová (for the Values and Transparency portfolio) and Vice President-designate Dubravka Šuica (for the Democracy and Demography portfolio). These hearings confirmed their crucial role in citizens engagement and the importance of civic space. We are ready to engage!
The hearings haven’t been a completely smooth process for Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, as spaces for three more Commissioner nominees still need to be filled. The European Youth Forum hopes that this can be resolved quickly, so that we can avoid any delay. There is a lot of work to be done and young people can’t wait.