GovNews: First Week’s Highlights

The GovFaces platform has been online for less than a week and we are pleased to see the level of dialogue between citizens and their MEPs. Below are some of the highlights of the week.

Ukraine crisis

In an earlier post, we brought up Boguslav Liberadzki’s anwers regarding the current situation in Ukraine. As you might expect, it has been an hot topic of discussion on GovFaces for other MEPs as well.

MEP Elżbieta Łukacijewska informed us that this week, the European Parliament reached a consensus that further action is necessary to support the pro-European and democratic processes not only in Ukraine, but also in other countries of the Eastern Partnership, such as Armenia – a country that was forced to cease talks with the EU due to pressure from Kremlin. While reports have emerged that there are differences over what to do about Russia, all political groups agreed that signing an association agreement with Ukraine needs to happen as soon as possible and that this measure needs to be complemented by a greater facilitation of visas for Ukrainians.

It is also important to note that in the upcoming week we will probably see a plenary vote in the EP on the next resolution on Ukraine, according to Łukacijewska.

Youth unemployment

Croatian MEP Ruža Tomašić is another highly active politician on the platform. One of the major problems faced by both Croatia and the EU as a whole, she replies to a questioner, is that of the rising levels of youth unemployment. Mobility is not a solution due to the well-documented phenomenon of brain-drain, where the young, skilled workers move to rich member states and their countries of origin are left to face economic and demographic collapse. And, because a country without young, educated people has no future, Tomašić continues, it is imperative that the problem is addressed by fixing the overall economic situation in each member state, through reducing the tax burden, reducing bureaucracy, fixing the business climate, and attracting investment.

Another idea which caught our eye on Tomašić’s profile was that of aligning public education with labor market needs, because there is too much money put into teaching unneeded skills. It reminded us of this video by the Digital Agenda for Europe which encourages young women to take up programming and positions in ICT.

Gender inequality

Which leads us to our final major topic of the week, gender inequality. Some, such as Tomašić, take the position that there can be no healthy Union without strong nation states. Others would dare go one step further and argue that strong EU nation states need to be fundamentally democratic and that, by definition, this requires that they fix gender inequalities.

MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen gave an interesting and thoughtful response to the question “What do you consider to be some of the most important remaining challenges in the struggle for gender equality in Europe?” This response sparked an opinion piece on the topic by our own Marie Gjerde Rolandsen, which we invite you to read here.

We expect that there are subjects which we did not manage to cover and which would interest you, so we invite you to check out and have a look, sign up, and join the discussion!