5ideas_bigBack in March, Debating Europe published a post on the “5 Ideas for a Younger Europe” initiative launched by the First Vice-President of the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella (a member of the  Social Democrats group in the European Parliament), and the then Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Anna Maria Darmanin (you can also read our liveblog of the event here).

We’ve now had the time to collect some of your responses to those ideas, and today we’re going to look at some of your feedback and comments (including some of the criticism).


The creation of a true European political union. This process entails the establishment of a President of the European Union, to be directly elected by all EU citizens.

Responding to the first idea about an elected EU Commission President, Marco wrote the following:

I don’t understand what the relation is between a ‘true’ European political union and having a president of the EU. It seems to me that having an elected president would be no more than having a diplomatic representative of the EU.

Here’s Gianni Pittella’s response:

We also had a comment sent in by Patrick, who argued:

While I would agree to all proposals, I would point out that an elected president whose hands are tied by blackmail by some heads of state is utterly useless. What we need first is independent financial resources for the EU, so that the usual ‘I want my money back’ can no longer be invoked.

Here’s what Anna Maria Darmanin had to say:


Put in place a European public employment service. Intended not only to facilitate the matching of job-seekers and employers, but designed to guide the choices of young people in their search for a job, to suggest education or vocational training solutions that are able to serve the needs of the labour market.

This seemed to be a popular suggestion, with nobody strongly criticising it. However, some commenters pointed out that this doesn’t solve the problem if unemployment is rising everywhere in the European Union.


Standardisation of human, social, civil, political and economic rights in the EU. Any right conferred by a Member State of the Union must be automatically extended to the citizens of all Member States. This would avoid some rights becoming the privileges of those who can afford to pay for them.

This was a controversial idea, and we looked at exactly this question last week, provoking a fierce debate over the issue (particularly to do with controversial questions such as abortion, same-sex marriage and adoption).


Setting up a European Degree Programme: four-year course; four universities; four European countries. To be combined with the further development of distance learning and virtual universities and the establishment of EU ambassadors in all faculties of all EU universities: students who would help other students to stay informed about their rights, opportunities for mobility, employment and scholarships offered by the European Union.

In response to this idea, Laura sent us in the following comment:

Setting up more European degree programmes is a great idea, but for all young people to be able to enjoy the benefits of EU citizenship they need to first know about all the opportunities available to them!


According to Eurobarometer, television is by far the leading source of information for many Europeans (7 out of 10 EU citizens state that they keep informed mainly through it, according to a survey published in 2012); therefore the European Union should support the creation of a European public broadcasting company.

Marcel was highly skeptical about this suggestion, arguing that:

You can set it up, but you cannot make people watch it. And, undoubtedly, the French would demand half the broadcasts be done in French. Good luck getting people from Italy, Austria or Finland to watch that.

What do YOU think? Would these five ideas be enough to save Europe? Should the European Commission President be directly elected? Should there be a European public broadcaster? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

Vote 2014

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

59 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Eduart Nano

    Un u prshendes t gjitheve nga ana ime dhe me perfaqsuesen e Shqiperis t nderuaren dhe respektuarn mis Majlinda Bregu <3 <3 Hello all and good day for your Respect for all by me

  2. avatar
    Tamás Csiszár

    The 5 ideas are kind of broad.. not mentioning the economical,financial and social differences/aspects. Also a direct election of the President of the EU would increase bureaucracy, costs and wouldn’t mobilise the people to go to the polls. But maybe I could imagine the process like in the US..

  3. avatar
    Patrick Vande Walle

    The question is much larger than that. What powers would this person have ? If he/she s only a puppet in the hands of the EU Council, as it is today, it makes little sense. I do not see an European personality that stands out as willing to manage the common interest. Currently, most if not all politicians focus on protecting their national interests. As long as we consiider our neighbours as competitors and there is no solidarity, this will not happen.

  4. avatar
    Olivier Laurent

    There are so many layers of bureaucracy here in Europe.

    The lack of democracy/legitimacy won’t improve because we elect a president with almost no power in the EU.

    The problem is deeper and more serious: we need to simplify the whole thing.

  5. avatar
    Zahar Zaharescu Limonada

    Yes, one thing that’s not very visible, despite its HUGE importance is that the ‘EU’ as we perceive it is mainly run by member states. Same member states that return to capitals and point fingers at ‘Brussels’ or congratulate themselves on some ‘victory’ over the EU. nationalising achievements, europeanising failures. not very long-term, but, hey, it works a treat in the elections. so, unless the EU as such gains political momentum, we’ll get increasingly bogged down in this until the whole thing just collapses. the EP is the most likely candidate for that — so why not electing the president through a parliamentary procedure? but without a real counter part to the member states clout, it would be just another nice title. and that would be really bad, as there’s no way for any individual country to prosper in the globalised world. we’re too old, too cosy, too social for that – we’re much better off together.

  6. avatar
    Clémence Albrecht

    I agree with you Zahar. If we try to go on our own, in a nationalist way, we are all weak. Our strenght is to be together.
    So the only economic union is not enough anymore (and doesnt exist anymore as such, in my opinion). Those who cannot realize it are in the wrong.
    But until the “european feeling” is not encouraged, the populations won’t understand this… and wont support it

  7. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Of course we should, for European affairs only… Right now we have too many Presidents and too many that would love to be and speak for all Europe… That leads to too many opinions… Where too many cockerels are chuckling, the dawn is late to break, a Greek saying tells us… How can we show to the world that Europe speaks with one voice and be taken seriously by other blocks or powers?

  8. avatar

    The election of a president would be just another tier of government to be torn down . Its not democracy to give the choice of president or no president .
    The idea of EU funds just means EU taxes , another step toward full political union

    Youth unemployment has not been helped (in the UK) by the open borders polices. Traditional youth ‘first jobs’ in the unskilled markets are now taken by migrant workers. I would agree with needed vocational training and a skilled workers directory . The training should though be foremost for local people for local needs. There is no point in training carpenters for instance in France for jobs in Germany when there are unemployed people in Germany wanting to be carpenters. The problems of differing economies where ‘poorer’ citizens work in richer countries only succeeds in driving down wages and living standards for all in the host country.

    The standardisation of rights sounds like a good idea and should be a ‘gimme’ as long as it dosnt effect national constitutions which it seems at first glance it does.

    The Degree standards should be harmonised worldwide ,why restrict it to Europe ?

    Having suffered years of bias broadcasting from the BBC the thought of another government run TV channel dosnt fill me with a lot of confidence that a European one will inform but rather set out to influence

    Europe needs reform ,mistakes rectified, maybe we need to take a few steps back before we can move forward

  9. avatar
    Marija Laba

    not so sure about it, this is why they select somebody “without a personality” really. :D
    so, I think, leave it the way it is as it would cause too much hassle,

    unless these leaders would have remarked themselves for their truely humane, cultural, artistic, charity and other good deeds.

    A person like- Nelson Mandella for example, could be the president of European Union- this would bring less politics into Europe and encourage people to research the candidates up before voting- which would in exchange result in people knowing more about other European Union Member States?

  10. avatar
    Georgi Hrisstof

    Beginning is right, of course, changes and upcoming collisions to create a consolidated society allows and mandatory rules for the development and protection of values​​! Prior to forming and delegate rights and responsibilities, which ultimately is inevitable and a matter of time, to create and, in fact, properly would be to reflect on what he called me in another discussion, “Control of Control” for to mimnimizirat corrupt practices corrupt practices .. closed (conservative feudal) political parties that usually follow the events.
    European Union must build their political, civil and social structures so that they are leading and a label for other societies. Strong player and support the will of democracy and peace on earth! Any ill-formed structure will cause centrifugal forces and appetites for post-totalitarian ways.
    Launching possible and with less force for democracy and-capstan!

  11. avatar
    Eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    A UE têm a sua responsabilidade de ajudar as nações dentro do espaço da UE Eu insisto que os paises emergentes devem abadonar as regalias injustificadas e usandos os poucos recursos investir em actividades realmente produtivas e pararem com o aprofundamento da austeridade e não abadonar o espirito da solidareidade com as classes mais baixas da UE

  12. avatar
    Davey Brown

    We shouldn’t have a European Union. It is the worst kind of tyranny in that it considers itself virtuous. Until the people are given a vote on membership it will never have any legitimacy. The sooner it goes the way of the Soviet Union the better.

  13. avatar
    Paul X

    One way to save the EU

    Start spending the taxpayers money more wisely and let them see what it is being spent on. It’s pretty obvious that no hard working taxpayer is going to be in favor of a profligate organisation which seems to think that a recession only applies to the general public
    A classic example is the idiotic charade of Parliament swapping between Strasbourg and Brussels, if ever there was a way to lose the support of the public is when they see their tax being wasted on this pointless arrangement

  14. avatar
    Alexandre Lohmann

    It is not sufficient having the forms of a democracy to be democracy. What kind of president would be this european president ?
    Europe must be the union of its member states but not their dissolution or their submission to a super-state.

  15. avatar
    Magnus Nielsen

    Commenting upon the sudden emergence of Britain as a world power after the War of Spanish Succession, the victories of Marlborough and the settlement of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), the French commentator, Montesquieu attributed the phenomenon to the unique characteristics of the British Constitution and, in particular, to the doctrine of the ‘Separation of Powers’, the arrangement whereby the Lawmakers, the executors of public policy and the judges all remain independent of each other. This is also the basis of the US Constitution.

    The European Union, however, is constructed as an imitation of the abolutist monarchies of the 17th and 18th centuries, with all political power concentrated in the hands of an unelected and unaccoutable CABAL who have no interest in the welfare of the European peoples. This model will ultimately, fail and others like it have also failed.

  16. avatar

    We Europeans need desperately an elected President of the Commission, elected by majority voting on transnational lists in EP elections. This would turn the Commission into a real european government accountable to the European Parliament. Also the commissioners would be choosen from elected members of the EP and being responsible to it e.g. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Minister of Justice, Minister of Trade or Consumer protection Minister etc. Only an european government with an independent budget by own ressurces elected by the Citizens of the Union working for common europen interests can solve the current crisis and create a secure common future.

  17. avatar
    J. Abildgaard

    There is SO much in this and, it one cannot just agree or disagree!

    One thing is very, very important dear EU:

    Your point no. 3 Rights….YES…..but rights are NOT enough…far from and, you know it!

    As the EU is today we actually have plenty of rights, but this doesn’t help much dear EU, because our opportunities are constantly being taken away from us amnd, what does this make the EU??

    Nothing but a dictatorship continent, correct?

  18. avatar

    The first great step is the President of the European Union.

  19. avatar
    Eduart Nano

    Prshndetje t gjithve dhe nj dit sa m e mbar n arritjen e diskutimeve dhe qllimeve t mira e t sukseshme me shum respekt pr ju t gjith nga Eduarti <3<3<3<3<3

  20. avatar
    Nico Selleslags

    Neen, de Eu moet stoppen met hun poging om van Europa een eenheidsworst te maken. Eenheid in verscheidenheid !

  21. avatar
    Jovan Ivosevic

    There isn’t even a consensus about a federalist Europe. You are suggesting a total harmonization in the style of a unitary state

  22. avatar
    Pedro Almeida Sande

    Europe only survive with solidarity, subsidiarity, unanimity, Community loyalty, parity between the parties, they become real community and not part of the international society…

  23. avatar
    Pedro Sande

    Europe only survive with solidarity, subsidiarity, unanimity, Community loyalty, parity between the parties, they become real community and not part of the international society? watching this make us understand an impossible euro europe (convergence or divergence?): The descending hierarchy of levels of sovereign bond yields to 10 years is as follows among the” peripheral “countries of the euro: 10.28% for Greece to Slovenia 5.92%, 5.66% for Wonders Of Portugal Portugalgal , 4.04% for Spain, 3.76% for Italy and 3.5% for Ireland. “

  24. avatar
    Gonçalo QuelhasLima

    Vain words… the same vain words for years and as we say here in “european” (remember?) Portugal vain words goes with the wind! There are no future in Europe with Germany!

  25. avatar
    Virgilio A. P. Machado

    Help, yes. Save, no. Europe’s future is a Federal European Union of regions, not countries. This is as inevitable as death and taxes.

  26. avatar
    Florin Davidescu

    Impossible ! Economic and cultural differences are too great, to find equity. Besides this, it’s not clear what means this harmonisation ! It sounds like a general, ideal, impossbile to reach concept ! :))

  27. avatar
    Laszlo Nagy

    It would be controversial, what powers to give to a new president.
    A problem with this rights standardisation might be, that by giving more legislative powers to the center, inhabitants of each country will feel, that their influence over their own rights goes out of hand.
    From the beginning, the European idea was greatly based on the common economic development, that the participating countries could develop further together. For rejuvenating Europe, the most important thing is fixing the economy. Some smaller initiatives might help, but their impact will not be that spectacular.

  28. avatar
    Florin Davidescu

    It’s better to talk about harmonisation of WEALTH ! The rights exist across Europe ! We should better debate the concept : “Harmonisation of WEALTH across Europe” ! ;)

  29. avatar
    Davey Brown

    The only thing harmonised in the EU is the festering corruption at its black heart. The coming UKIP administration will soon deal with Brussels in the manner it deserves. We want OUT!!!

  30. avatar
    Alvaro De Simón

    There are great ideas, all of them the problem is the complex regulation in each country that makes those ideas really hard to be put into practice. Concerning education for example, here in Spain we don’t even agree between the different regions. Since the democracy was restablished, there have been many reforms changing the subjects and the programms depending on the ruling party. At the end, each region adopt more competences and nowadays the education you get is completly different in every region in terms of languages, contents and the level of education. Actually, unless we solve that, it is really hard to introduce a european common programm

  31. avatar
    Carlo De Michele

    The main parameters to be made congruente are the macroeconomic ones. Stop German social dumping. Wages must increase according to competitiveness. Past non complying behaviours must be compensated or euro will shortly blow out.

  32. avatar
    Malcolm Seychell

    No… This is just another step to changing Europe into like the old USSR… Europe is the problem for most countries and not the solution. Each country needs different measures to get out of the recession… More europe will create further problems just like the Euro did.

  33. avatar
    Pedro Celestino

    A union mean equals right and dutys (that goes beyond education and human rights and go as far as minimum wages and equal taxes). And if we trully respect each other we want the same rights to everyone.

    The problem is that there is many ways of getting the same results and that is even more accentuated within diferent contries, that is why local power (even below the national level) should be reforced but with coperation and cordination of EU citizen elected institutions between the local power to achive a general set of rights and dutys that we want in al contries.

    But the job does not end there more is needed to be a true union:

    1- Forms of direct democracy: that is the only way that people will ever feel represented;

    2- True freedom of expression: independent press (financialy, not owned by governemets or bigger corporations) and a free and open internet;

    3- Values that would: no slaves means no childs slaves in China and India too, we only mantain relations with those countries that really respect human values;

    4- Independent justice!

    But education is the key to all of it…

    We can have the best of both worlds!

  34. avatar
    Georgi Hrisstof

    Unified system of knowledge and preparation for skilled workers, stable foundation for well built structure and a positive future!

  35. avatar
    Palma Muñoz Morquilla

    The most important thing to save Europe is to come out from the economic crisis having learned the lesson, not to be repeated the same mistakes: it is not susteinable a monetary union without an economic and a fiscal union. The existence of the EU is justified as long as it allows better living conditions to the european citizens: high quality education, more opportunities of employment, equal rights, freedom, peace and stability.
    This crisis has also demontrated a lack of real power of the European Institutions, specially of the Commission and the European Parliament. The road map until now has been written by the most powerful member States and particularly by Germany.

  36. avatar
    Davey Brown

    The EU cannot create a sense of unity and belonging except in the minds of the incorrigibly stupid. The EU actually drives nations and people’s apart with its lunatic policies. The Euro is causing untold misery to millions. Do you think people will just accept being sacrificed on the altar of European Federalist dogma? The resistance to your nightmare is growing….. The Clowns are coming to destroy your circus!

  37. avatar

    Who wants to save Europe in the first place? Democratization of the banking system, harmonization of tax systems and collective bargaining on a European level is never going to happen anyways, thus forcing (they force “themselves”, ofcourse) national governments to implement deeply unpopular measures (dubbed as “necessary” and well beyond any democratic influence).
    I guess the vast majority in every European country therefor is “anti european”. Probably the best way to save Europe is by abolishing the EU.

  38. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    There is only one thing that will underpin the EU ideals, personalities and bureaucratic/political positions within – and that is the legitimacy given to it by the citizenry within the EU.
    A directly elected president will not have much legitimacy if a very low voter turnout as is traditionally the case with ALL European elections vis a vis national elections is the foundation of such a mandate.
    The fact that so few take part in such elections should not been seen as apathy necessarily either – despite low turnouts normally being framed as apathy by media and political classes alike. There is a lot to be said for low voter turnout (in any elections national or EU) being the only way to cast a vote for “none of the above” on a ballot paper – which is not apathy but a political statement.
    If low voter turnouts for EU elections were not framed by “apathy” but instead framed as “none of the above” on any ballot paper, then there would be a very real issue for EU legitimacy at any existing or future level.
    The biggest issue for the EU is one of legitimacy with the voter in any nation that makes up its constituent parts. Will a directly elected president advance that cause of legitimacy? I doubt it given the number of voters in the constituency, the numbers that would vote against any successful candidate and the numbers that simply would not vote. I again refer to not voting not necessarily being apathy but a political statement about the suitability of any candidates in any race.
    For any democracy to work, consolidate and be responsive to its citizens then there first has to be a State for the democracy to work within. The EU is not a State. It is not a Federation either and never will it be by legitimate majority public support from within all 28 of its constituent parts. It is a multinational supra-structure with 28 talking national heads, (European Council), a European parliament with an incredibly low legitimacy based on voter turnout, and an Executive that is nether democratically put in place or noticeably responsive to its citizenry as national governments tend to be.
    In short a directly elected EU president does little to nothing when it comes to enhancing the legitimacy of the EU structures in the eyes of a great many voters in every nation – and as such the EU will never have that same legitimacy that national governments have with national voters because it simply does not have the same interaction or responsiveness to the voter that national governments do as is necessary in any democracy.
    As such, recognising such a legitimacy deficit that is unlikely to ever decrease significantly, it is perhaps time that the EU take stock of what it can and cannot achieve for the region at a supra-structural level with the limited legitimacy is has in the eyes of its multinational citizenry.
    It is better to do far less and do it well thus increasing legitimacy and confidence with the public than to try and do too much too soon and be seen as unnecessarily interfering in sovereign issues on the back of such very feeble voter turnouts/legitimacy.
    Does anybody expect the voter turnout in 2014 to be up for the EU parliamentary elections across the EU as an entirety?
    Just how low does voter turnout have to be before democratic legitimacy can be seen as nothing more than a hollow claim?

  39. avatar
    Simone Muffolini

    Try to ask the question he has one citizen, the 12 stars represent? I hope the answer right, otherwise I will have to teach. Possible? Many years of funding for the European development? Reviewing Community policies and the European identity deficit! Many people do not know what it’s like 12 star blue background, the most frequent answer is: are the twelve founding members.
    Passionate about European values, it means that you should know the meaning of the symbol stamped on the European flag?

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