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Staffan Nilsson's Comment (former EESC President 2010-2013)

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Europe, business and bikes

23 Apr 2012 By: Staffan Nilsson 0 Posts

We all worry about the millions of young skilled people in Europe, ready to enter the labour market, looking for a job. And they often begin their working life, if at all, in precarious, low-paid part-time employment.

From the beginning of my term of office, I have consistently said: yes, Europe is affected by a very serious financial, budgetary, social and political crisis. And, no, I don't think the "crisis" should become some kind of mantra or a structural statement of fact. I want us to focus our attention on solutions; there are solutions! Even on a bike…

I was cheered by the sheer energy I encountered while attending a TEDx conference last week. Created in the spirit of “ideas worth spreading”, this event is designed to give communities, organisations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through experiences at local level. I was invited to the one in Utrecht to speak about social business - an area in which the EESC is very active. I spoke about social entrepreneurship as a priority for EU strategies for growth and called it a component of the DNA of tomorrow's new economic order.  

I also witnessed that huge creativity that has always been the hallmark of the youth. This TEDx conference was actually organised by young people in Utrecht who started with nothing but a strong sense of solidarity and a passion, like biking. They were all between 20 and 30 years old, students and young social entrepreneurs. They brought together social entrepreneurs, experts, professors, even young bankers to share their views and experiences on what it is like to be a social entrepreneur, and how social entrepreneurship can be a key element in crisis exit strategies. I witnessed outstanding imagination, enormous energy and genuine motivation!

Now, the equation is: we have a young generation aware of social needs, willing to make business; they are hugely creative and use the new media to spread ideas and share experiences that can be replicated on the other opposite corner of Europe and the world. Globalisation is a fact and an opportunity for them, not an obstacle. How can Europe support them, how can we help secure a smart and solidarity-based sustainable Europe and world?

These were the questions we addressed at our EESC Labour Market Observatory's conference last Friday. The key is to prevent young people falling in the unskilled trap, focusing on mobility, investing in innovation and in our schools and universities, creating partnerships with civil society. The European Commission it is on board, and Commissioner László Andor, who attended our event on Friday, and his colleagues are already working hard on the issue of youth unemployment, mainly by consulting the social partners.

To press ahead, we now need the Members States so that they see the real added value of Europe and its capacity of scale savings and support EU investment via a real, ambitious budget. The future is in our hands, so, why not make it reality? Sometimes, simplicity is much better than vanity for achieving success, even in national elections…

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