Christian Frey


Portuguese people are among the UE citizens with lower culture activity.

A Eurobarometer study shows us that portuguese people are the UE citizens with lower rates in the participation of culture activities and Portugal is the country with the biggest lack of interest in reading. According to this survey more that 70% of the citizens didn’t went to the cinema for the past 12 months. Going to the theatre also does not make part of the plans of most portugueses, 87% said that they didn’t went to the theatre in the past year. In the visits to galleries, historical monuments and museums just 30% said that they have visited monuments and only 17% went to museums and galleries.

Everyone is blaming the politicians but I believe that’s not who we have to blame. I believe that the fault is in ourselves. People have access to all kind of culture. The nacional museums are free on sunday mornings. Libraries are free. People are holding too much to the idea that they need to choose between working to feed their children or culture. Like we say in portuguese “A Cultura não ocupa lugar” which means that there is always space for culture. An investment in culture is the best that a country can do for their people, increasing the sense of presence and stimulating their creativity, but this should be supported by the people not by the state. That’s the main problem, there is culture in Portugal but there are many portugueses that don’t give the right value to it.

I think we all need to spread the word. This is not a thing that’s only happening in Portugal, it is happening in the rest of the world specially in the countries that are in crisis because they think that they need to give up on this kind of lifestyle and that’s a waste of time and money. People need to change their minds.

Members of FutureLab Europe provide the perspective of young people on the current crisis

Europe’s youth has been hit hard by the economic crisis. Unprecedented levels of youth unemployment, emigration and disaffection have earned Europe’s current cohort of young people the unenviable label: “lost generation”. But what does this really mean? Detailed reports from 24 European countries – EU-Members as well as Non-EU-Countries – compiled by FutureLab Europe indicate how young Europeans perceive their situation.

The experience of the economic crisis by young people has been very different across Europe and, indeed, within individual countries. Those with higher education levels have generally escaped the worst. However, in many countries, a university degree or a technical qualification has not been enough to spare young people from unemployment. In some countries, regional disparities have been accentuated by the economic crisis. Furthermore, age is not the only determinant of the “lost generation”. There are very high disparities in youth unemployment according to gender, as well as social and ethnic background, for example young people from a migrant background are more likely to be unemployed than their peers. There also seems to be quite a striking difference between some Southern and Eastern countries, on the one hand, and Northern and Western countries on the other.

Loss of self-esteem and independence

Despite the many differences within and across the countries surveyed by FutureLab Europe, there are a number of significant similarities in the challenges faced by Europe’s youth. First and foremost, FutureLab Europe found that the NEET level (NEET – those who are Not in Employment, Education or Training), which is becoming an increasingly important measure of youth disengagement from the labour market, does not capture the uncertainty and anxiety that now pervades the lives of young people in Europe. Many of Europe’s youth are trapped in unpaid or underpaid internships and temporary or sporadic employment. This makes it difficult for young people to plan their future, buy a house and start a family.

A related aspect is the loss of identity and self-esteem caused by experiences of unemployment, frequent job changes and the sense that young people do not matter. Trapped in a limbo of unemployment, underemployment or an endless cycle of education because of a lack of job opportunities, many of Europe’s youth perceive themselves as ‘useless’ and powerless.

Tension rising before the debate: FutureLab Europe-discussants Heidi Beha, Leticia Díez Sánchez and Theodora Matziropoulou. Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart
James Kilcourse and Enja Sæthren presenting Vice-President of the European Commission Almunía with the first copy of the FutureLab Europe 2013 report on youth unemployment in Europe. Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart
Quizzed by FutureLab Europe: Vice-President of the European Commission Almunía Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart
Joaquin Almunía, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Competition. Photo: Jennifer Jacquemart

Long-term repercussions and challenges for all Europeans
Since self-esteem is a precondition for active and positive citizenship, these issues could have significant repercussions for long-term social cohesion and democratic stability. Further, the widespread sense of injustice and resentment that young people are shouldering a disproportionate burden while governments and society in general disregard their problems might lead to political disconnectedness and apathy. For many young people, the social contract has been broken. They feel betrayed by the political and economic system. The long-term political and social consequences of these phenomena are likely to be profound. Perhaps most worryingly, the rise of populist political parties and violent youth demonstrations in some European countries already indicate that young people are opting to withdraw from the existing social and political framework.

Another significant challenge is that several peripheral European countries are experiencing a huge brain drain, which could have a long-term impact on economic development and the entire fabric of society in the sending states. To ensure that these states are not losing their most dynamic and innovative generation for good, they must seek to reach out to their young diaspora and engage them in the decision-making process. Accordingly, policy responses must clearly address the needs of young people. A number of the policy responses to youth unemployment do not unambiguously serve the interests of Europe’s youth. For example, the introduction of more flexible contracts that make it easier for employers to hire and fire young people can only serve to increase instability and uncertainty for young people if not combined with a strong safety net and a good level of support for jobseekers.

FutureLab Europe – Empowering Young Voices In order to succeed Europe has to be a “citizen project”. It needs fresh ideas and innovative concepts as well as strong support from the younger generations. And Europe’s youth really does wish to participate: all they need is the access to the decision-makers and opinion leaders who currently shape the future of the European Union. In FutureLab Europe ten Foundations combine their knowledge and experience of civil society. From their outstanding alumni they select participants who offer great potential for Europe. At the start, the Annual Forum provides a week-long introduction to Brussels’ institutions and in-depth debates. Following up are the Europe@ Debate-events, where the 20- to 30-year-old participants publicly discuss European topics such as culture, (im)migration, economics, gender and social justice with high-ranking politicians and specialists. Thirdly, FutureLab-Europe participants’ Group Projects in Europe are being supported by the Alliance. You can meet these young Europeans and learn about their personal ideas on the internet in video-streams, podcasts and personal blogs or follow them on twitter: Twitter: @FutureLabEurope So far, members of the European Alliance for Democratic Citizenship come from Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway and Spain. Operational partner is the European Policy Centre in Brussels; FutureLab Europe is affiliated to the Network of European Foundations. Read the FutureLab Europe report
What ought to be done?

A reasonable starting point is to work on the perceptions related to young Europeans. One way to make youth a resource and not a problem is to make greater efforts to promote youth entrepreneurship. Europe’s youth are best positioned to make the most of the single market and the digital, globalised age we live in. Despite this, FutureLab Europe found that our generation seems to become more “risk-averse”. Finding ways to tap into the innovativeness of young people is an area that should be given more attention.

Social media may facilitate this process in a way that was not possible in the past. Though social media can function as a contributing factor, on a deeper level youth engagement must be grounded in a stable education system. Funding for education and training should not be made a victim of the policy of austerity. Reducing education spending and access to education, which has occurred in several European countries since the economic downturn, only serves to damage the long-term employment prospects of young people. Further, education systems must adapt to current labour market needs. There is a sense in many European countries that the education system is failing young people because of the sharp disconnect between education and labour markets.

Though some harsh measurements need to be taken, it is still possible to avoid reinforcing the tensions already evident between different groups in society. Any major policy response to youth unemployment should have the support of all relevant stakeholders. Radical reforms cannot be divisive or perceived as partisan if they are to address the uncertainty and insecurity that Europe’s youth is currently experiencing. Further, solving Europe’s youth crisis must not come at the cost of intergenerational conflict.
Older workers are also vulnerable and this is particularly true at a time of rapid technological advances. However, older workers bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the workplace, and this deserves to be recognised.

Policy-makers at European and national level have in recent months increased their focus on the problems of young people and increased their use of the language of crisis, but they must now put their rhetoric into action. The young people of today are the decision-makers of tomorrow. The long-term sustainability of democracy and social cohesion therefore demands the engagement and participation of young people in the democratic process. However, young people are experiencing a general crisis of trust and values. Failure to act now is likely to entrench the anxiety and disillusionment of many of Europe’s young people, which will be very difficult to reverse. We must therefore go much further than what has already been done in order to ensure the future of Europe.

Have you ever asked yourself “Is this what I really want to do?” while listening to one of your professors in university giving a lecture? Do you ever have second thoughts about whether you’ve chosen the right path? Although there are no precise studies about the number of people who are following a university directly related to their skills and passions, there are some estimations suggesting that only about 27% of young people are currently working in the field they have studied.

So who is to blame for this situation? The system? The teachers? Or perhaps the parents? Probably all of the above. Let’s take the educational system, for instance. In some European countries, like Germany, there are organizations, such as “Agentur für Arbeit”, which provide pupils with a personal advisor. This is not compulsory, so pupils have the freedom of choosing whether they want to be part of the program. Fadi,18, is one of the people who have benefited from this agency. He is currently an intern in the city Council of Wegberg and feels that this is mostly thanks to his personal advisor. Ever since he was 15, he went to see his career counselor, who monitored him and noticed Fadi’s skills and competencies. She then suggested for Fadi to follow a vocational college, which was related to his interests, leading him where he is now. Fadi also has friends who chose not to be a part of the program, some of whom are now either studying something that they don’t like, or are unemployed. In conclusion, Fadi believes that “it’s a pity not to take advantage of such an opportunity” and he’s very satisfied with the work of the people in Agentur für Arbeit.

On the other hand, in countries like Bulgaria there are no such programs. This could partly explain the mismatch between people’s skills and their work, which in turn leads to the lower living standards than in Western Europe. This is one reason why people like Maria, 26, who loves to draw, do not further study to develop their talent – she knows that it’s a small chance to have a decent living, since these kind of artistic talents are regarded more like hobbies. Maria, who has studied law, confesses that “a talent like drawing needs all of you” and that if she were 19 again, she would probably choose to struggle more and study what she really loves. Maria is not the only one who has chosen to go to a university program which is different from her passion.

Michaela, 21, from Slovakia, has also picked a field which offers more chances to find a well-paid job – languages and intercultural relations. History is what she would have really loved to study, but she is aware that “there are no career possibilities”.

Somewhere in the middle are people like Mariliis, 21, from Estonia. Mariliis is studying English and Economics which she finds interesting. However, she would have also liked to be a dental technician. She can’t really say that she has found her <

>, but rather that she’s “experimenting”.

If people like the above-mentioned have chosen not to follow their dream, Madara, Latvia, thinks differently. She thinks that no matter how difficult, if you are really passionate about what you’re doing, then you’ll manage just well; “it’s not a problemfinding a job, you just go and do what you like”. Madara loves sports, which is why she studies fitness training and nutrition.

Different people, different countries, same issues. Maybe it’s our fault too, because we don’t engage in more activities during our adolescence, so that we discover what really drives us, or that we’re not sufficiently committed to our <>, in order to stick to it no matter what. The conclusion? The educational system is deficient in some countries, which affect young people’s personal development. Nonetheless, this situation proves the fact that we’re not that far apart and it should make us more “united in diversity”.

From the depths of emotions, she comes. From the depths of his soul, she comes. She comes… his music. So full of emotions, so deeply touching our souls with sweet, lovely whispering lyrics of all his mixes. She tells us a story about love, emotions, feelings. About how important love is. About how important is who you are. And there he is – Soulful Traveller (Nikolay Panov).

This time I don’t want to follow the conception of introducing someone with his biography. This time I want to represent an amazing person, with big P, via his music only. I will just tell you that he is from Sofia, Bulgaria. As he says, he’s not a DJ, he’s just music addicted and represents his feelings and emotions with the music. He also works in the field of aviation, which is his passion after music. If you have already listened to some of Soulful Traveller’s mixes, then you know for sure about his love of music and the way he represents his feelings. I have the greatest pleasure to present to you his latest mix and I can say as always he will lead you for a unique musical journey through the valleys of Afro, Deep, Dub and Soulful House music! In case you’re tired of the radio hit list and hit charts, here you are in the right place to get your dose of amazing underground tunes and some rare & unreleased productions/remixes!

The specific in his mixes is his affinity for Afro Deep Sounds which is kind of exotic for me. Because of these deep vibes, while listening to some of his afro deep mixes, I feel like I am on a safari in Africa. There are so many different natural sounds – birds, animals, water, air… like you can feel every sensuous, perfectly matched tune from the beginning till the end of the mix like it comes from inside of you. His music is so close to me, and I bet – to everyone too, so I can say for sure that this music reminds me that I am a human being and the most important thing for me is not to forget my human nature – to love other people, to love nature, to love animals, just to feel and love from the depths of my heart and soul.

The new mix begins smooth, then soulful and Deep and again smooth at the end. It’s a little bit different from the typical Soulful Travellers’ Afro Deep style. It is inspired by soulful lyrics, instruments, life as we know it, love and especially how the music could totally change a person and what you are possible to do when you fall in love. How the words of one man transmitted through music lead him to a new emotional beginning again and again.
About his music Nikolay says: “I always try to find and mix not so much familiar tracks in my mixes, to stay away from any charts, etc., and I think that there isn’t new or old music; it is just one that touches your soul and brings you a wonderful mixture of feelings.” There is one track in this mix – “Hear my soul”. I wonder, listening to it, how many young people today live a trully spiritual life; how much they are focused on the material as they have forgotten how nice and pure it is to love somebody. Where has the true emotions of music, of going out with friends at night gone away… How many young people today want their soul to be heard, understood? How many of them want to show their true feelings…”
To the question what makes him happy when he releases a new mix, he answers “For me it is not important to have a billion fans. It’s enough for me and makes me happy if just one person finds out himself into any of my mixes. For some people maybe my work is not good enough, for others maybe is the best, but the main idea is to represent to the world a mixture of different feelings and emotions in my mixes. And this rule doesn’t work only for me, it is the same for all the artists in the world”.
I would like to wish you to find out a piece of you in the mix “Rejoice of Life” by Soulful Traveller and your day to be fulfilled with possitive emotions and as he says: “Open you minds and your souls. Let the music and lyrics take you on a spiritual journey and lead you to your inner, to your hidden soul and do not forget that life is beautiful! Love, peace & music forever!”

Romania’s Csángó population is defined depending on the context and who makes that definition. A politically correct definition could be “the population (the Romanian and Hungarian speech with some variations) mainly from Moldova (Bacau County – North-East), of Catholic religion, with disputed origins: People who define themselves as living Csángós and other regions.”
The Csángós are studied, not only for the analytical aspects of their identity in the context of Romanian society, but because they are a perfect illustration of nation-building in the 21st century whose legitimacy still raise questions for fellow citizens.

The academic debate, may it be constructive or destructive, or formal or informal has serious impact on the population. Regardless of who is right, who manages to develop convincing arguments to handle the entire Catholic population, whether or not they are of Hungarian origin, they are subject to a “collective process that can lead to stigmatization of rejection reactions or internalization of stigma as Erving Goffman argues in the 1963’s “Stigma”.

Discrimination is centered around the rights of national minorities (the law on language use in administration and justice, the right to education in mother tongue language and the right to use in practicing religion). The Recommendation 1201 is the document cited in this regard. Articles 2, 3, 4, 5 of the Recommendation refers to the rights and freedoms that are covered by other documents, such as document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE (1990) or the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (UN, 1992). Of special importance for Romania is the Paragraph 3 of Article 7 regarding the use of language in administration and justice.

The public debate relates to the delimitation of the ethnic group, Csángó. The thesis debated for over 100 years is whether Csángós, understood as the majority of Catholic population of Moldova is of Romanian or Hungarian origin.

The public discourse and its implications
The implications of the existence of public debate takes place primarily in the political arena. Tri-polarized, the speech is as follows: First, the status assumed by the Romanian context Csángó is a reminder of the heterogeneity of a nation, built on the principle of diversity, not that of a “unitary state” of Daco-Roman descent. Ethnic impurity, based on grounds of religion or nationalism translates into being high or sometimes moderate. The second part of the public discourse, occurs on the AXIS Budapest (capital of Hungary) – St. George (capital of the Hungarian minority in Romania) and over the mountains to Bacau (where the majority of Csángós reside). The main issues involve territorial claims and the conversion of a community into an ethnic community, citing the linguist and religious criteria for membership. A third participant in the discourse is Italy, Csángós making contact with them through the Catholic Church (mainly during the process of the Romanian migration to Italy).

Depending on the “external” interests the social structures are defined in one way or another. But the same can be done at the individual level, depending on the “domestic” interests. Assuming the social status of a role in the society brings personal benefits and it is limited to a single choice, but with strong social and political implications, especially in a society with very little tolerance.

“Labels” are created by different actors and they come with different benefits attached. Whether they are built on an ethnic Hungarian descent OR they consider themselves as being Romanian OR the point of difference is considered to be the religious one, Csángós are as real as possible. Although much research work on the subject supports research for the benefit of the people, this desire is clouded by the historical, political, or personal interest of researchers/institutions.