During the press conference at the French presidency of the Council of the European Union, Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of a European civic service for under-25s. A proposal taken, among others, by the Young Europeans association. Explanations.
On January 1, 2022, France will assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union. A position he has not held since 2008. For six months, Emmanuel Macron will, in a way, be the leader of the institution, responsible for coordinating and guiding European policies.
During this Thursday’s press conference, the Head of State spoke about European sovereignty, digital, economic growth, climate, defense and, at the end of the speech, young people announcing the creation of a European civic service.
Terms yet to be defined
“Let’s go further and think about a six-month European civic service, open to all young people under 25 for a university or apprenticeship exchange, an internship or an associative action”announced Emmanuel Macron, who clarified that this proposal was suggested to him by the Association of Young Europeans.
The aim would therefore be to expand the Erasmus+ program which already allows students, trainees, apprentices and teachers to carry out mobility in Europe during their training. As Clément Beaune, Secretary of State for European Affairs, explained in France Info, this European civic service has not yet been defined and may not be implemented immediately. “The idea of the President of the Republic is to say that all young people, irrespective of their origin, social origin, financial means, [doivent avoir] a European experience. It’s not a luxury, it’s an amazing opening. The modalities are yet to be defined, it will not happen overnight, it will take a while.“
The Secretary of State also indicated that this European civic service would be optional and open to untrained young people so that they have “a kind of breathing space”.
Rethinking Europe for and for young people
From the side of Young Europeans, this announcement already appears to be good news. “This is the first time the President has spoken about it, but it is still difficult to know what he is putting behind this European civic service”, admits Antoine Chabal, president of the association. Several organizations and collectives have been encouraging mobility and have been campaigning for this system for years. “We want to resume the civic service model that already exists but at European level, specifies Antoine Chabal. Therefore, there should always be an associative dimension, mobility, integration, training and, above all, the transmission of values.“
Although several mechanisms already allow this mobility, such as Erasmus+, the European Solidarity Corps or, in another way, European universities, the objective is to go even further. If the French presidency of the Council of the European Union makes it possible to revive European citizenship, Young Europeans remain attentive to other events such as the Conference on the Future of Europe whose conclusions are expected in spring 2022 or the European Year of Youth. “We expect a lot from these events because this is an opportunity to make proposals, to debate. With the French Presidency of the European Union, we hope that the government will be the standard bearer of these changes, carrying out concrete actions“, continues Antoine Chabal.
For the president of the association, the presidential election is also a major challenge for the future of Europe. The announcements made by Emmanuel Macron on December 9 could also be compromised midway through his term in the Council of the European Union if the president is not re-elected in France.