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Debating Europe wants to give students the chance to question policymakers, debate with fellow students from other European countries, and learn more about the work of the EU.

To achieve this goal, we are working closely with schools and colleges across each EU member state to launch a series of student-led online debates. You can read our previous debates with students from GreeceDenmarkBulgariaSweden,SpainBelgium and our special-guest debate with students from the USA.

Our eighth debate is with students from the IS Carlo Dell’Acqua in Legnano, Italy. We took their questions to Italian MEP Erminia Mazzoni from the centre-right  Centre-Right, Austrian MEP Eva Lichtenberger from  Greens, and Austrian MEP Karin Kadenbach from the centre-left  Social Democrats.

1. Why don’t the countries that are suffering from the crisis leave the euro?

First up, we had a question from Erika asking why those countries suffering most from the eurozone crisis still belong to the Single Currency. We took this question to Erminia Mazzoni from the EPP and asked her to respond.

mazzoni-speaksWhy do these countries still belong to the euro? Because belonging to euro and the European Union is not the cause of their problems. I think that, on the contrary, participation in the European Union has helped countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal remain afloat, and I think that the idea that leaving the EU could help get us out of the crisis is a bad strategy. Speaking from an Italian perspective, I think Italy has to improve our degree of participation in the EU and regain our central role in the EU. We have to be part of the decision-making and not wait for others to adopt decisions for us. So, I think we have to rethink how we participate, but we should not abandon the EU.

2. How can the EU incentivise the buying of electric cars?

The next question came from Ivan, who asked how the EU could better incentivise the purchasing of electric cars in order to reduce the impact of pollution on the environment. We asked Eva Lichtenberger, an Austrian MEP with the Greens-EFA, to respond.

Eva Lichtenberger, Die GrŸnen, Copyright www.peterrigaud.comRight now, in the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, we are working on a report about how to incentivise the building of a network of fueling stations across Europe for electric and hybrid cars. It’s always said that people don’t buy electric cars because there are no fueling stations, whilst companies say “Why should we construct fueling stations if there are no cars to use them?”

However, I think this is only one of many possible measures to reduce pollution in Europe. Ultimately, we will have to change our mobility patterns, that’s the point.

3. How can the EU avoid brain-drain in Italy?

Next, we had a question from Omar arguing that many young people in Italy currently feel the need to emigrate to find better jobs, which is draining Italy of its brightest young minds. Omar asks what the European Union could do to avoid this, and we took this question to Erminia Mazzoni for her to respond.

mazzoni-speaksWell, I think we have to invest more in education, and in connecting schools and universities with enterprises and with the job market. But we also have to change the way we think about immigration within the EU. Because, I believe, travelling throughout Europe is part of the experience of living in the European Union, and it shouldn’t be thought of in the traditional sense as “immigration”. From the perspective of Italy, I think that we have to make ourselves an attractive destination for young people, and to offer many possibilities for them, but I also think that young people must learn that travelling throughout Europe is important to be better trained and to do better in work and life.

4. Are car-free days a good thing?

Our next question also came from Omar, who asked whether Italy’s car-free days were a good thing, and whether any of other EU countries were doing the same thing. We took this question to Eva Lichtenberger to respond.

Eva Lichtenberger, Die GrŸnen, Copyright www.peterrigaud.comWell, Omar, I’ve been in Italy on some of those car-free days too, and I saw that, especially in Italy, it was very, very important because people saw their cities in a new way. Suddenly, they didn’t have to jump all the time between parking spaces and cars. And, I think, it helps to raise consciousness of what a city can be, and how the life-quality could improve. But, of course, it is not enough.

I know that some other countries do apply car-free days too, but in Italy the situation is, of course, special because the pollution is so high that they have a real need to apply car-free days occasionally. But, anyway, I would say that it’s a good model to raise consciousness, but it won’t be enough to change mobility patterns, and this is what we really have to do to ensure a sustainable future.

5. Could the EU oblige all member-states to recycle?

Finally, we had a question from Cinzia, who asked whether the EU could pass a law to oblige all member states to apply separate waste collection in order to improve recycling. We put this question to Karin Kadenbach from the S&D.

Bundesfrauenkonferenz 2008 im Linzer Design-Center.Yes, I think this would be possible because, with environmental laws, the EU and the European Parliament have a lot of powers. Almost all the legislation concerning the environment in the member states comes from European legislation, so we theoretically have a lot of power there. But, it’s always also a question of implementation: so people have to watch to check if what is being legislated is really implemented and done in the member states.

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!



41 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think? Why don't the countries that are suffering from the crisis leave the euro? How can Italy avoid brain-drain as its brightest young minds leave the country? And could the EU oblige all member-states to improve their recycling efforts? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we'll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

  1. Ignacio C. Furfaro

    Because they realize that the world has changed, and they either stick together or perish separately. No European country can face on their own the emerging markets, but all together are the largest political and economic power in the world.

  2. Massimo Santambrogio

    We always forget it. Europe’s institution would have to remind us everyday: we are the largest political and economic power of the world.

  3. Davey Brown

    The Eurozone is a basket case and anyone who thinks otherwise is also a basket case. The EU is a bloated, corrupt dictatorship that needs putting in its grave.

  4. David Fuzzey

    because their eu owned elites are raking it in. The sooner they do leave the better it will go for them.

  5. Antonio Jose Pecurto Pecurto

    O Euro uma pea fundamental do projecto europeu e isso transporta uma promessa de paz e de proteridade a crise aparece dentro dos estados com dificuldades economicas porque houve um grande excesso de os estados terem crdito fcil e tambm tiveram a avaliao das intituies europeias e a Alemanha no passado comentava que todos os estados da UE deviam fazer as suas reformas do estados por isso tivemos alguns estados que a fiseram e outros no enquato no houver uma aliana forte e responsavel a UE ir ter deficuldades para o crescimento economico

  6. Steve Patriarca

    I am afraid on this Mr Fuzzey is broadly right. It is transparently clear to anyone with a grain of economic understanding that Cyprus needs to leave the Euro and devalue its currency if it is to avoid a decade of recession or more. Greece too. But of course Cyprus and Greece are not self-governed any more they are not governed from Brussels either but from Berlin. They are quite literally enslaved by Germany and the IMF (and if you read what Lagarde said about the Greeks you get a sense of her personal agenda). So millions of people are going to live in poverty to satisfy the will of the Troika. You can understand why the cheap UKIP propagandists draw on the language of the Reich and so forth but these people are not fascists and Nazis their mindset is much more derivative from Marxist determinism… the individual does not matter only the greater good of the Soviet system. This is how the society justified the attempt to eradicate the Ukrainian nation in the Holodomor. The Troika is not yet sending officals to search Greek homes for grains of wheat or to kill all their pets and birds to make sure they have no food but the corpses of their own families…but it is the same mindset (that individuals do not matter only the collective – ie Merkell Vision for Europe matters). And that scares me.

  7. Steve Patriarca

    and Antonio and others you need an argument if you want to make a claim that the Euro is key to the European project. You are victim of mere politcial propaganda. The Euro is the biggest threat to the European Union since its inception.

  8. Juan Vázquez García

    Wake up! This European Union only benefits the banks and the big multinationals. They’re making a killing at the expense of the states, especially the southern nation states. They disguise it with words like progress, democracy, equality… But if you can see through all that curtain of lies, it all boils down to how much banks can plunge governments in debt to get more power over them. This is a sequestration of national sovereignty so the private sector has more control over nations, thereby deciding who can get credits and who won’t. They knew what they were doing. They could have stopped but kept pushing for this bubble to grow bigger. The problem comes from the United States. They allowed this bubble to grow bigger and bigger, they had information this was going to happen as early as 2002. German banks had this information too. That’s why most successful banks sold real estate assets before the crash, knowing they were in fact liabilities. They wouldn’t have sold them if they were such good assets as they claimed. You people are mistaken if you think the European Union can work. It’ll plunge Europe into even bigger divisions and conflicts because it’ll make socio-economic inequalities more pronounced. In fact that’s what’s happening right now. Politicians got in bed with banks and signed these aberrational agreements, by which governments were literally sold to banking institutions. And the voters are all a bunch of idiots too for not demanding more transparency and for voting these useless ***** into office.

  9. Rudi Špoljarec

    Southern Europe countries are simply uncapable to reach normal growth without EU zone . The mentality and uncapability of their governments does not allow to live and grow the nations there alone , I mean without EU. Just remember the history of monetary policy in Italy , with inflation and monetary devaluation of 30 %, from time to time. That was ridicolous.There has to be a regulatory central government , which EU certainly is.

  10. catherine benning

    I go along almost in entirety with Juan Vazquez Garcia. He has hit the nail on the head.

    Except, he hasn’t understood the need to European unity and the power it has as a combined democratic force. Without the size and intelligence of a united Europe the voice becomes a whisper. What need to happen is, the people of Europe push relentlessly for Direct Democracy. Then we all will have a voice in that talking shop ruling over us. With the first step being to reduce the US influence to nothing within our borders.

    The US holds us all to ransom the same way the Mafia holds its subordinates by the promise of protection. ‘We will see you are defended, without us you will be open to terror and terrorism. We will withdraw our intelligence services from your protection and you will be alone against the threatening world.’

    However, the trade in that promise is, Capitalism and the poverty it produces.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAQvUEK2OCw

    In recent history the US and the UK had the best social balance it ever had during the fifties, sixties and seventies, the change came about when the Conservatives took over in the eighties. Ronnie Reagan, Margaret Thatcher brought about the devastation we have today. And they did it by removing regulation on the financial sphere. The balance of the economic pie was in the cycle of redistribution and as a result growth and the rise of the standard of living of the ordinary man was at it zenith.

    The rich did not like the idea of their wealth being taxed in order to balance society to bring about a life worth living for all. And as a result they persuaded the inadequate thinkers of society to change the status by offering them the opportunity of insatiable greed. It has turned on them and the rest of us and the time has come to rid ourselves of those who are against a return to a system that takes care of us all.

    And if that means shaking loose from the ties of US oppression it should be taken in haste.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTdRLPN3ZGY

  11. Teodorescu Dragos

    Before Eu obligue all memeber states to recycle maybe should work much harder for the coeaziune, to bring all the citizens at the same or approach level of life and education. It`s the longest way but the most secure. It is difficult to ask someone to recycle and explain why, when that person think what is going to eat next day.

  12. David Fuzzey

    the euro is a way to enforce federalism by the back door without people`s consent no matter the cost.

  13. Eduardo Barroso

    Electric cars still have three major problems: they are expensive (relatively to fuel ones), the batteries have a low life cycle and the charging time is too big for the most users. electric cars would not need any incentives if the problems I mentioned above would be solved. We are still waiting for new battery technology and some rumours pointed out that there is a very big progress going on. But with it be even possible that oil companies are “delaying” that technology because they are very influent?! I would like to be clarified about that subject.

  14. eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Os carros eletricos ainda têm três grandes problemas eles são caros e as baterias têm um ciclo de vida baixa Por isso são multinacionais que produzem os carros eletricos é que devem melhorar a qualidade dos seus carros os lideres da Europa devem mundar as suas politicas do ambiente a reabilitação urbana e ambiental é inportante dentro dos grandes centro urbanos e também sensiblizar os cidadãos do grandes centros urbanos com programs des resteiros naturais e de recilagem

  15. Vicente Silva Tavares

    I am in favour of the ideal of an United Europe, saying this I have to say the best solution for the near times (10 or more years) it would be better the countries in financial crisis to leave the Euro particularly if not even the EU. The Euro destroyed completely our economy. Being a strong currency all factories just abandoned our countries or just got bankrupt. Instead of manufacturing the goods we needed, we start importing and paying unemployment benefits. The custom tariffs imposed to us are so low that is not worthy to invest in industry. Only high top technology industry can survive on this environment, but, most Southern countries had not that type of industry and my own country dropped from 8th most industrialized country in Europe before the EU and now is only 22nd. The lost of tax revenue turned the Governments to borrow and now we are all in a mess. The only solution is to leave the Euro and have exceptional custom tariffs at least for third countries. After all, China and India charge from 40% to 150%. Why should we charge only 3 and 6% on their goods?

  16. Rolando Van Velden

    Raffaele Baldassarre shame on you! declaring costs without doing anything and getting angry if a film crew asks questions about it

  17. Vicente Silva Tavares

    Actually, for most of the traditional industries of the South, China customs tariffs start on 90%. Added other taxes on top like imported consumption tax and naturally VAT. As Europe is in the old Greek myth, a women, she simply had open her legs.

  18. Christos Mouzeviris

    By investing to create jobs over there…Simples!! But our leaders have different priorities… They want to save the banks and the euro….

  19. Noel Michael Murphy

    Stop draining peoples brains…..I know the Germans used to like their human experiments, but this is ridiculous!!!!

  20. Miguel Verissimo

    Assuming a knowledge based economy and implementing a new growth paradigm based in ecoefficiency and green growth, imposing a new development model to emergent economies (ending this copy/paste of unsustainable ways of life, slavery and easy profit for multinationals)… That’s easy.

  21. Marcel

    @Ignacio C. Furfaro
    Sounds like an argument for the Soviet Union.

    I’m sure those countries are better off independent than being a part of a supranational entity ruled from Moscow.

    @catherine benning
    The EU itself is undemocratic.

    The Euro is our misfortune, it is an idea invented by banks to get ever more bailouts. The Euro brought mass misery and poverty and unemployment to Southern Europe. the day the Euro disappears should be celebrated as liberation day.

  22. ina

    I think that Europe is in crisis because it does not invest more in technology and education as they are doing it in countries like china, india,brazil etc.The crisis in Italy and also because the public defficit and very high so before all need a stable government and that applies a combination of right policies that will make the country’s economy to grow …

  23. Alex Bell

    Put a directive for all member states so that on national level they offer 50% discount or so, or at least the price to not go over conventional car of similar HP or type. The other way would be to lease cars with favorable terms. Also provide cheaper registration or technical check yearly for the car. Another way is to offer VAT tax reduction or elimination for buyers and-or tax reduction for sellers.

  24. Moreno Mox Mariani

    Just balancing the job market, I worked in several EU countries and there is still too much difference in salary average, working structures, organizational ability and, most of all, political shortsightedness.

  25. Gianuario Cioffi-Aulicino

    The ORGANISED CRIME – MAFIA, sicilian COSA NOSTRA, neapolitan CAMORRA, calabrese ‘NDRANGHETA are the ONLY REAL problem in Italy : because of theme we are always in economical depression , we have public corruption and so we don’t have a job policy .
    In Italy ,the best young escape abroad (Germany, UK, Australia) just because they are sick and tired of this situation.

  26. Tamás Heizler

    My opinion is that we should create 3 different “Eurozones”;
    -one for Western Europe and Scandinavia
    -one for Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus)
    -one for Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuonia)

    These regions are so different economically, so that unfortunately – as we see it -, it doesn’t work to have one common currency. On the other hand it’s also not a good solution to have currencies country by country (e.g. we are just 10 million people here in Hungary and they are also 10 million people in Czech Republic, some 18 million in Romania, 7 million in Bulgaria etc). So this one would be a compromise solution between a too big currency that doesn’t work and a lot of little currencies that work but don’t have weight on the global market.

    In 2003, 2004 our government said that we’ll use Euro by 2006. Now in 2013 they say we’ll use it by 2020 and I’m pretty sure that in 2020 they’ll say we’ll use it by 2030. So my opinion is that it’d be better to do something together with Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria etc than doing nothing and waiting for being eligible for the Eurozone. And the very same is my suggestion to Southern Europe; if they don’t feel that they benefit from the Eurozone, and they want to quit, then they should rather create a Southern European currency than re-introducing Drachma, Lira, Peseta and I don’t know what else.

  27. Tamás Heizler

    My opinion is that we should create 3 different “Eurozones”;
    -one for Western Europe and Scandinavia
    -one for Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus)
    -one for Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuonia)

    These regions are so different economically, so that unfortunately – as we see it -, it doesn’t work to have one common currency. On the other hand it’s also not a good solution to have currencies country by country (e.g. we are just 10 million people here in Hungary and they are also 10 million people in Czech Republic, some 18 million in Romania, 7 million in Bulgaria etc). So this one would be a compromise solution between a too big currency that doesn’t work and a lot of little currencies that work but don’t have weight on the global market.

    In 2003, 2004 our government said that we’ll use Euro by 2006. Now in 2013 they say we’ll use it by 2020 and I’m pretty sure that in 2020 they’ll say we’ll use it by 2030. So my opinion is that it’d be better to do something together with Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria etc than doing nothing and waiting for being eligible for the Eurozone. And the very same is my suggestion to Southern Europe; if they don’t feel that they benefit from the Eurozone, and they want to quit, then they should rather create a Southern European currency than re-introducing Drachma, Lira, Peseta and I don’t know what else.

  28. Rudi Spoljarec

    I am curious, why the southern european countries have long lasting crisis, on the other hand: northern and western Europe allready solved their problems , better to say : northern Europe never had recession. Is there a problem of mentality or (un)capability of the government. I’d say :both.

  29. Rudi Spoljarec

    Here in Croatia , the brain drain is high. The biggest drainer is national tv company . The irony is that we are obliged to pay the national tv on monthly basis. Incredibly , does that exist anywhere ? I want an answer.

  30. Abbymerey

    YOU SPEAK ALOT AND DO NOTHING. Its so typical to see people debating with issues, but the fact that your own leaders do nothing means your debates will certainly not stop. You do have a beautiful and amazing country but your policies and governance I should say can be compared to a selfish way of thinking. You need to open up your country and be lax a bit with your investment, tax and all other business policies. If you don’t, well, imagine the growing number of unemployed youth/graduates now and oh how many suicide cases Italy has recorded because of unemployment and raising taxes.

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