Picture this: you are back home from school or from work, you switch on the TV or browse your Facebook feed and today again, like everyday, it seems the world is not getting any better.
Then one morning, the news is worse than usual, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. For the first time, one of our stars will fall. Another day, you wake up feeling sick as you witness the election of Donald Trump as President of the most powerful country on earth. And it is with a heavy fear in the stomach and a bitter relief that you followed the Austrian, Dutch or the French elections. Because these countries may have avoided the accession of extreme right populism to power, but their numbers keep growing, each time stronger. One day, you realize that something should be done to fight back; that it is no longer okay to just sit and watch, while the very fundamentals of peace and democracy in Europe are at stake.
Well, the good news is that something can be done. A positive approach is possible, a positive vision for our continent is possible; the prospect of a Europe where people live in harmony and with equal chances, a Europe of peace, universal human values and social justice, a Europe stronger in its diversity, promoting solidarity and inclusion rather than fear and rejection. That Europe is not an inaccessible dream; it was how the founding fathers of the Union envisioned the project, not what we have now: a loose cooperation of sovereign states, with no political will to move forward to complete a truly United Europe.
This has been the battle of JEF ever since its creation almost 70 years ago. We believe that change will come mostly from young people. The Jeunes Européens fédéralistes is a transnational, transpartisan political youth NGO with thousands of members in more than 35 European countries. JEF has been fighting for the creation of a federal Europe based on the values of peace, democracy and the rule of law. It promotes active European citizenship, works for the widening and deepening of the EU and strives for a more just and integrated society on the European continent.
If you feel connected to the future of our European Union, if you think the project should be protected, if you want to fight for a better Europe, or simply want to be part of a young, dynamic and fun (yes!) group of people, then joining JEF Belgium might be exactly what you need. Hesitate no more and join us here.
Martin Maréchal, President of JEF Belgium, Tuesday 16 May 2017Read more >
JEF Europe respects – but regrets – the decision of the British citizens and calls upon EU governments to make decisive steps for European integration The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe, while respecting the decision made by the British people, profoundly regrets the outcome of the referendum to leave the European Union. Sorry you decided to leave… JEF Europe supported the Remain campaign and its member section Young European Movement (YEM) UKs efforts to achieve a positive outcome in this referendum. JEF Europe would have hoped for a higher turn out among young people, who were more inclined to vote to remain within the EU, and regret that EU citizens living in the UK were not allowed to participate.
JEF Europe would have also wished a fairer campaign, in which in Leave side would not have based its rhetoric mostly on lies, with attempts to provoke hate and fear among the British citizens. Now that the decision has been taken, the British government has to fully implement the procedure to leave the European Union. The clear message of the referendum has to be: Out means out. In the renegotiation process between the now EU27 and UK, JEF Europe calls on the EU institutions to focus on securing an outcome favourable to the remaining 27 Member States. … but now it is time for us to move forward! JEF Europe remains convinced that today not only marks the day of reacting to the British outcome. Also to the remaining 27 EU Member States, the departure of Britain marks an important juncture. To prove that it is not separation, but integration that will help Europe overcome internal and external challenges, the remaining Member States have to use this opportunity to advance political integration and move forward. Now it is time to look ahead.
For too long the British question has held off all important reform projects in the European Union. JEF Europe therefore calls upon the governments of the Eurozone countries to make urgent and decisive steps towards a true political, economic and fiscal union.Read more >
The German national TV ZDF recently broadcasted a show starring our JEF members in Brussels.
The segment of the show, which runs from 33:00 to 38:00, shows the daily life of Brussels’ own Captain_Europe on a busy day and records JEFers celebrating the MovEurope campaign at the JEF headquarters.
Here is the link to the show (the segment starts at the 33rd minute).Read more >
On May 10th, 2014, Deredactie.be covered JEF Belgium’s involvement in the “Eurowa” game which we’ve already reported on and how it was tested out at the EYE event in Strasbourg. Check out the article and the video they made on it [it’s all in Dutch].
The Ambrassade in collaboration with the French-speaking Youth Council and of course JEF Belgium created a very interesting game called “Eurowa” about the impact of Europe on our daily lives. The game was tried out by youngsters from across Europe during a game session at the European Youth Event in Strasbourg. Together with young people from the Ambrassade they learned about what Europe really is.
Read more >
De Ambrassade maakte in samenwerking met de Franstalige Jeugdraad en JEF België een spel over de impact van Europa op ons dagelijks leven. Het spel werd samen met jongeren uit het schoonmoederproject van de Ambrassade onderworpen aan een inspectie door verschillende Europese jongeren tijdens een spelsessie op het European Youth Event te Straatsburg.
Read more >
Our Political Secretary and proud JEF Belgium hoodie wearer Goele Janssen appeared in the De Standaard newspaper on May 7, 2014 with her original piece titled “We kunnen nog alle kanten uit met Europa” in Dutch [NL].
Join the discussion about the article and give her a thumbs up on Facebook.
Since most of the original article is hidden behind a paywall, we are publishing it here in its entirety.
If you know Dutch, enjoy this strikingly energetic piece on the European project with a whirlwind tour of Europe’s (un)certainties that addresses the main question: how to cast your vote in the European election in May 2014.
We kunnen nog alle kanten uit met Europa
Goele Janssen (22), Gent Junior projectleidster Europese Beweging België en politiek secretaris JEF België
Europa heeft me altijd ontzettend aangesproken. Het is een superjong politiek project, waarmee nog alle kanten uitgegaan kan worden. Aangezien Europa voortdurend evolueert, is er nood aan mensen die de kar trekken. Daarom koos ik voor een master in de EU-studies. Vorig jaar rondde ik die succesvol af, maar vond dat ik een zekere economische achtergrond mankeerde. Momenteel ben ik dus halftijds studente economie en aan het werk bij de Europese Beweging België tot aan de verkiezingen, waar ik afgelopen zomer stage deed.
Door een Erasmusuitwisseling in Duitsland ben ik me echt onderdeel van de Europese gemeenschap beginnen te voelen. Jammer genoeg gaapt er een brede kloof tussen de hoopopgeleide Erasmusgeneratie en de lager opgeleide jongeren die deze manieren niet hebben om met Europa in contact te komen. Er zijn zeker en vast geëngageerde jonge mensen die zich het hoofd over de grote vraagstukken breken, maar voor de gemiddelde Europeaan blijft politiek de ver-van-zijn-bed-show. Wij hebben het voordeel dat we Brussel hebben, maar als ik zie hoe moeilijk het al is om Belgische jongeren buiten de ‘Brussels bubble’ te bereiken, dan is het in het buitenland ongetwijfeld veel lastiger om de jeugd te sensibiliseren.
Wat betreft het democratisch deficit is er zeker nog heel wat werk aan de Europese constructie. Voor wat het Europees Parlement echter betreft – en dus de opkomende verkiezingen – kan men de goodwill niet negeren. Het Parlement is mijn inziens een pionier in het openbaar maken van allerlei informatie en dat in 24 talen. Dat betekent daarom spijtig genoeg nog niet dat mensen de weg naar die informatie vinden, laat staan zoeken.
Het huidige eurosceptische klimaat is misschien wel de ideale aanleiding om mensen het nut van Europa uit te leggen. Mensen zijn op dit moment het slachtoffer van wat er in het Europese project ontbreekt: intersolidariteit en samenhang. Daarom moet nu het momentum aangesproken worden om uit te maken welke legitimiteit we aan Europa toekennen.
De kernvraag van deze Europese verkiezingen lijkt me overigens: willen we een sociaal Europa of niet? Zolang regeringen in termen van competitiviteit blijven spreken, dreigt Europa aan de nationale belangen uiteen te scheuren. We moeten één Europees systeem uitbouwen om in de wereldeconomie en –politiek concurrentieel te blijven. Op één van onze afgelopen debatten werd het zo gesteld: wie zegt dat je geen sociaal beleid op een economisch kerkhof kunt bouwen, moet zich afvragen of je een economisch beleid op een sociaal kerkhof kunt bouwen.
Die spanning zal mijn stemkeuze bepalen. Europees stem ik zeker persoonsgebonden. Omdat er in het Europees Parlement geen vaste meerderheden bestaan, hebben Europarlementsleden een zekere vrijheid én mogelijkheid om als individu op dossiers door te wegen. Ik kies een persoon, van wie ik denk dat hij/zij mijn mening correct zal vertegenwoordigen.Read more >
As you have already noticed while attentively turning the pages of European Movement’s countdown calendar for the 2014 European election, the publication features many of our Belgian members of JEF explaining what Europe means to them.
Read more >
“The only natural resource we discovered is the human potential.
Israel is an example where the people enriched the land more than the land enriched the people.”
– President Shimon Peres, from his EU parliament speech
In their book “Start-up Nation: The story of Israel’s economic miracle”, authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer describe why and how Israel became the second largest start-up scene in the world, just behind Silicon Valley. There are more Israeli companies on the NASDAQ (US high-tech stock exchange) than Korea, Japan, Singapore, India and all of Europe combined! Israel is much too often depicted in Europe as a liberal democracy in a hostile neighborhood at best, and as the occupier or tormentor of the Palestinians at worst.
Yet Europeans tend to forget that there is much more to Israel than just the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel is a liberal democracy that shares the same values as we do. Despite facing existential threats it has a vibrant entrepreneurial scene, R&D centers at the cutting edge of technology, a modern growing economy and above all human capital put at work. Israel has a lot to learn from Europe but the opposite is also true.
Against All Odds
“Israel has the most important high-tech center in the world after the US.”
-Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google Inc.
One might think that a country of only 8 million people and in a perpetual state of war like Israel would be less willing to take risks and be more prone to instability and economic decline, the opposite is true. Because Israel faces existential threats from its neighbors and because it has been boycotted by every Arab country; it had to innovate, take risks and look for markets beyond its environment in order to survive and to be successful in the world economy. Its adversity driven character made it ready to take full advantage of the opportunities that globalization creates.
Like Taiwan, South-Korea or Singapore, small developed countries in high-tension conflict areas, it has experienced growth rates that Europeans today can only dream of. They even outperform the average growth rates of developed countries.
Source: World Bank Data
In their book, Saul and Singer reveal the secret ingredients for Israel’s economic success. They discard the ethnic or religious stereotypes; rather they attribute its success to a mix of venture capital, immigration policy, mandatory military service experience, research and development… all fostered by a people that overcame adversity against all odds.
It is the country that gave birth to: Viber (messaging app), Netafim (drip irrigation tech), Waze (navigation app), Fraud Sciences (anti-fraud system), Given Imaging (a pioneer in capsule endoscopy technology) and many more. Particular about Israeli startups is that, while they’re very successful at an early-stage, they are much too often taken over by foreign tech giants. For example; Viber was recently sold to Japanese Rakuten for $900million, Fraud Sciences was acquired for $169million by Ebay, Waze was sold to Google, Onavo to Facebook etc.
While you may have rarely or never heard of these companies, their impact is non-negligible. It might be a surprise for you to hear that American tech corporations such as Intel and Microsoft built their first overseas R&D centers in Israel. Google suggest tool that you probably use every day and Intel’s dual-core Core Duo processors were designed by their Israeli centers.
The European Start-up Scene
One of the reasons for Israel’s start-up successes is its Venture Capital industry. Venture Capital (VC) is financial capital provided to early-stage, risky, full of potential start-up companies. Indeed, how can a start-up grow and expand without any investor willing to risk their capital into the project? Especially when faced to the high failure rate of start-ups that lies around 75%-90%.
Nevertheless, failure should not be stigmatized or seen as an obstacle. Henry Ford failed three times before succeeding. His first company “Detroit Automobile Company” went bust in 1901, a year later he left “Henry Ford Company” due to a fight with his partner and co-founded a third company called “Ford & Malcomson Ltd” which almost went bankrupt due to low sales until it was saved by another group of investors and reincorporated as “The Ford Motor Company” in 1903.
European venture capital has performed poorly compared to the US and Israel. Difficulty to operate across different regulatory and legal jurisdiction, to invest across borders, fiscal unfavorable regimes and all kind of barriers to entrepreneurship have made it difficult for European venture capital development. Legal and fiscal barriers can be overcome through more coordination, reform and integration at European level but psychological and cultural barriers towards entrepreneurship in Europe still remain.
Venture Capital funding US-ISR-EU, Source : VentureSource
Bankruptcy and failure in business are stigmatized, risk aversion amongst Europeans is higher, the precautionary principle or “better safe than sorry”-principle is a general principle of EU law, whereas the US and Israel have a dynamic entrepreneurial economy, failure is not stigmatized but is part of the entrepreneurial learning experience; it is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all.
“… At the moment Europe has huge reservoirs of scientific talent, but a very poor record at creating start-ups. The question many investors ask is: where is the European Google? It’s a fair question.”
– Irish economist David McWilliams, excerpt from “Start-up Nation”
Europe doesn’t lack potential or capital, there’s plenty of talent in Europe; our universities, research centers, infrastructure are amongst the best in the world. Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and Finland, despite being small are Europe’s most innovative and competitive countries. They gave birth to high-tech companies such as Spotify and Skype.
Not everything is gloomy in Europe, there is a vibrant start-up scene in Berlin, London, Finland… but it is still too small in comparison to Israel and the US. Finns for instance, despite producing enormous amount of patents have failed to capitalize on them in the form of new start-ups.
Chutzpah (pronounced as hutsp’ or chutsp’): behavior, or a person’s attitude, that is rude or shocking but so confident that people may feel forced to admire it.
Chutzpah, the ‘audacity’ to do the impossible is enshrined in Israeli culture. From a very young age and during military service, Israelis are encouraged to question hierarchy and are taught that they can achieve anything in life as long as they make bold well-thought decisions.
Tsahal, the Israeli Army, has been an essential factor in the success of start-ups. By training its recruits in high-tech, giving them responsibility at a very young age and promoting leadership, it has created battlefield entrepreneurs. While elite status in the US is determined by which Ivy League university (Harvard, Yale …) you attended; in Israel it’s in which military unit you served that matters.
A tailored European optional military conscription program or US-like ROTC-program (Reserve Officers Training Corps), which is an integrated military program in academic curricula, could foster leadership, camaraderie, training in high-tech, a European identity and produce the future battlefield entrepreneurs that we desperately need for jobs and growth.
“Immigrants are not averse to starting over. They are, by definition, risk takers. A nation of immigrants is a nation of entrepreneurs.”
– Gidi Grinstein, Reut Institute
Israel like the United States is a start-up nation, built by immigrants. It is not surprise that one reason for their success is their ability to attract, integrate and give opportunities to immigrants from diverse backgrounds. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Israel had to absorb almost 1 million Soviet immigrants, a fifth of its population and all that in less than a decade.
Most of them were highly-skilled and have contributed to the high-tech start-up boom the country has experienced. Immigrant societies are entrepreneurial because immigrants are by definition risk takers. The heir and executive of an established family business in France will be less likely to leave and risk everything in order to create something new. Immigrants on the other hand have nothing to lose; they only see what they can win.
More than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies in the US have been founded by immigrants or their children; Ebay was founded by a French-Iranian, Intel by a Hungarian, Yahoo by a Taiwanese, Google by a Russian, Instagram by a Brazilian and the list goes on. These 200 companies produce $5 trillion in revenue for the US economy and employ almost 10 million people worldwide. Immigrants also contribute to more than 25% of patents in the US.
Source: The Economist
Europe faces a demographic crisis like Japan, aging population and the ‘baby-boomers’ retiring isn’t good news for the already slow growing European economy. The ability of Europe to attract, keep and integrate talented individuals from the 5 corners of the world will be essential for Europe’s future. The EU is an immigration experiment in itself, it’s still a work in progress but it has neglected to deal with immigration outside the EU effectively.
Politics, the least to say, has become nasty towards immigrants. How do we expect talented Indian, African or Chinese: programmers, engineers, scientists … to find Europe attractive when political discourse is negatively directed towards them?
We need to create a “European dream” that attracts talented young people and gives them the opportunity to grow their business in Europe. We have the potential to produce the next European Google, but only by acting European and taking advantage of the opportunities of globalization instead of looking inwards, will we be successful.
What Europe really needs is entrepreneurial and political chutzpah. Audacity to face and shape the world we live in. The EU itself would have never existed if it wasn’t for the audacity and chutzpah of its founding fathers.
Hamza Serry-Senhaji is a pan-European activist who is currently a board member of JEF Brussels. His monthly column, The Pan-European Pen, brings focus to topics that are crucial for a common European future. Contact him directly via email or Twitter.
Peter Oomsels, the former president of JEF Belgium, now vice president of the Young European Federalists, has appeared on The Network TV show on EuroNews to debate why it is important to vote in the next European election, and how the new parliament will be instrumental in choosing the new European Commission president.
He also spoke about how to increase voter participation in the European Union.
Peter highlighted three main points:
- the need for a political government in Europe
- the importance of democratic legitimacy, and how the presidential election is a step in the right direction
- the need for European parliament to be assertive
Here is the recording of the show and the corresponding Euronews article.
We also reported on it on our Facebook page, don’t forget to like and share it there!