The Student Forum Maastricht (SFM) is an annual student conference held at the Maastricht University Campus in Brussels. Students from all over Europe come to discuss the EU and suggest policy proposals to solve various pressing issues. Each year, Debating Europe promotes their policy suggestions online so our readers can debate them (see here and here for previous Student Forum suggestions).
This year, the students formed four separate working groups, each focusing on a different policy area, in order to put together a series of proposals for the European Commission. You can read the full set of proposals here. What do YOU think about these 4 ideas?
PROPOSAL 1: Send every EU citizen a birthday card
This one sounds crazy. But hear it out. The working group suggests that the EU send a birthday card to each European when he or she reaches adulthood. This card should not only contain information about the next European elections but also include a travel voucher. The idea is that this voucher will allow young Europeans to experience the benefits of free movement. Read the full proposal here.
PROPOSAL 2: Start measuring the gender pay gap
Men are paid more than women for the same work. However, it is difficult to measure progress in closing this so-called “pay gap”, because wages are often confidential. The working group on gender equality suggests that data should be maade available internally within firms about the gender pay gap within each company.
In addition, the working group proposed a series of measures including mandatory paternity leave, data standards for measuring gender equality, and a certificate system to show which companies are “family friendly”. Read the full proposal here
PROPOSAL 3: Promote awareness and diagnosis of mental health issues
This working group was tasked with looking at issues of mental health. In particular, they were looking at mental health issues within highly vulnerable populations, such as refugees. However, many of they suggestions could be applied to the broader population.
Essentially, the would like to see efforts to promote greater awareness and diagnosis of mental health issues in the EU. This would include, for example, standardised tests for certain health diseases such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the pooling of research data to measure the scale of the problem. Read the full proposal here
PROPOSAL 4: Help developing countries to help each other
The final working group was tasked with promoting South–South cooperation. As developing countries grow their economies, this working group argued that the EU should find ways to promote the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries. This would include creating legal frameworks to facilitate this cooperation, and promoting South-South cooperation internationally.
The working groups hope that it would boost the image of the EU as a development partner, and encourage developing countries to take up a larger responsibility of development efforts (ultimately reducing the share of European contribution). Read the full proposal here
Would these 4 ideas help rescue the European Union? Should every EU citizen receive a birthday card from the EU when her or she turns 18? Should wages be transparent, so the gender pay gap can be measured and closed? Should more be done to promote awareness of mental health issues? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!