EYIF President Kumardev Chatterjee’s article in the New York Times today. He was invited to contribute to the State of the (European) Union debate on finding sustainable solutions to the European economic crisis. This post is blogged from the NTY’s original post, for the EYIF community.
According to the European Commission’s Autumn 2013 forecast, “the E.U. economy has started growing again.” Sure, just say that to Les Bonnet Rouges, a group of anti-government activists in France raising their red caps in bonny protest against Europe’s current malaise that has been characterized by lack of growth, high unemployment and rising taxes. Or to the 14 million N.E.E.T.s (not in employment, education or training) aged 15 to 29 in Europe today, with countries like Spain recording youth unemployment numbers just over 50 percent. The ongoing economic crisis has not only caused significant job losses and a general loss of prosperity, it has also generated social loss, putting at risk Europe’s way of life and the sustainability of the European project. “Young people must create a culture that promotes risk-taking and entrepreneurship over dependency on state handouts.” In the last 50 years, the usual response to Europe’s economic and social malaise has largely been a combination of statist policies and solidarity.
This crisis is different. Many European states, struggling to maintain debt repayments and to implement a painful austerity agenda that has been forced on them, no longer have the wherewithal to respond adequately using the tried and tested Keynesian spending-based paradigm. Meanwhile the differing views on the causes of this crisis and the suffering caused by austerity, has put the very notion of solidarity at grave risk. Young Europeans are now increasingly aware that the answers to their economic woes cannot come only from government and big business, if at all. Many realize that they need to take risks and create their own opportunities, thereby seizing their destiny. Public programs like the much-vaunted Youth Guarantee cannot create new demand – but certainly more dependency – on states and state-backed champions. I firmly believe that young Europeans must change their mindset on risk-taking for innovation and entrepreneurship, and equally, be empowered to turn their innovative ideas, talents and energy into successful projects, businesses, products and services to create new jobs and inspire more demand-driven growth. We must create a culture that promotes risk-taking and entrepreneurship instead of dependency on state handouts, a culture that encourages young people to be innovative and assume leadership for change. This is how Europe will find a sustainable way out of its crisis.