On Tuesday 8th May, 2012, EPP President Wilfred Martens invited a group of youth politicians to discuss with him the EPP Manifesto. Such invitations are not that common! So my first reaction was….Mr Martens and the EPP are interested to give the EPP Manifesto a dosage of youth!
To start with, the EPP Manifesto was only 5 or so pages long. This is long enough to keep someone reading but not too long such that someone looses interest. Through reading a manifesto, a person should understand in clear and no uncertain terms what the EPP is all about, what we believe in as a family of European political parties.
Job creation was on top of the list. It remains as of today an issue of concern. I can say however, that in my country, Malta, unemployment has been kept to relatively smaller rates (in the 6% region), but I empathised nonetheless with my European counterparts, such as Spain and Greece. As I discussed with Spanish and Greek representatives, it is clear that the abnormal high unemployment rates are leading to brain drains, forcing students to abondon their beloved nation in seek of better future opportunities.
Secondly, and likewise important, is the need to generate more growth. We have seen so many slogans and heard too many speeches in the past months and years emphasising this. Some question whether the path to austerity is the right one. It is possible that through austerity measures, growth may be suffocated due to the fact that it is to an extent such that it does not leave any breathing space for growth. Whilst this may be true, on the other hand, European leaders could not ignore the insurmountable debts as a result of irresponsible decisions taken by politicians and leaders that would only plan up to their term in office.
The issue of integration was also discussed in the context of refugees and minorities. This, and only this, ensures that Europe continues to be a group of nations respectful towards each other’s differences. It is not possible to forge ahead by ignoring that different communities are present within the European fabric of societies. The fact that we have enjoyed years of peace and prosperity is no gaurantee that more of the same is to come. Peace and prosperity are statuses which are maintained if the right conditions are sought and a genuine effort undertaken towards this end.
The final EPP Manifesto is to be adopted in the weeks to come.