Just before the last batch of Europe hit the voting ballots Internal Voices spoke to Matthijs Pontier, the 29 year old representing the Dutch branch of the Pirate Party. The artifical intelligence graduate talks about the importance of democracy in Europe, protection of personal data protection and how to tackle youth unemployment. One of the youngest candidate MEPs, Matthijs told us he hoped to remind voters that among the potpourri of established political parties, unusual but not irrelevant voices can be found. Unfortunately, however, Matthijis's party failed to get a seat yesterday...
Although the European Elections are taking up all of her time, Socialist MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, member of the Belgian socialist party sp.a, allowed us at Internal Voices to shoot her some questions on youth unemployment, climate change and the future of Europe. With a vibrant voice, this MEP active from 2009 in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy as well as Public Health and Food Security, passionately defends her opinion on all these matters. On why the youth needs to misbehave a bit more and be the architects of their European future.
UK MEP Julie Girling (ECR) on euroscepticism, national sovereignty and learning to say “no”.
I recently had the chance to sit down and talk to my first MEP since arriving in Brussels seven weeks ago. This provided an excellent opportunity to really gain an understanding of exactly what an MEP for the United Kingdom does – for anybody familiar with the British press, any European coverage is minimal at best and not always the most pro-European of reads.
The interview was short, but nonetheless we managed to cover a range of topics aimed at both giving anybody reading this an idea on how to proceed in the international political realm as well as touching on issues such as Gibraltar and the problems facing it from the Kingdom of Spain. The latter topic is a fascinating example of supposed European partners failing to cooperate with one-another on the basis of old territorial disputes and the wider context that we don’t usually hear about.
Margrete Auken has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2004. She represents the Danish Socialist People’s Party (SF) and in the parliament she is part of The European Green Party. For more than 40 years Margrete has fought for the environment. One of her main goals is to make the EU more social and transparent. She was recently the spokesperson and the driving force behind the reduction of the use of lightweight plastic bags by 80 % in the EU. Besides the fight against climate change, she is also fighting tax havens, greedy banks and trying to make it obligatory for politicians to register meetings with lobbyists.
Philippe de Backer has been a Member of the European Parliament since September 2011, representing the Belgian Liberal Party Open VLD. Having studied biotechnology at the University of Ghent, where he was also one of the founding fathers of the university Model United Nations, he has always been a passionate and proactive liberal. As a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), led by his Open VLD colleague and former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, he deals with Transport and Tourism and the Economics and Monetary Affairs Committee. During an interview at his office overlooking the Eurobubble, he was kind enough to shed some light on his thoughts about youth unemployment, climate change and the future of Europe.
Young people are apathetic, don’t care about society and don’t vote. This truism is poured over the youth in the run-up to every election, whole buckets of it. Because we all know young people just lie around all day and never get up to do anything. It’s so instilled in popular culture that we even made up a quote about it and attributed it to Socrates; because if Socrates complained about the youth in his day, they must surely be a lost cause.
On 9 April, the Yehudi Menuhin open space at the European Parliament finally lived up to its full potential- by transforming itself into a hip-hop arena. As the thud thud thud of heavy beats pulsed through the building, punctuated by beer-induced roars from interns and trainees, MC Ryan Miller got everyone fired up for what had the potential to become either an enthralling or cringe-worthy evening: MEPs rapping for our vote. Luckily, the MEPs weren’t being let anywhere near the microphones- the actual rapping was this time left to four professional rappers.
Brace yourselves - it is almost May 2014 and the times they are a-changin’. Bob Dylan once used these legendary words to capture the public perception of deep social and political upheaval in the ‘60s. Today, trainees and interns in Brussels will have witnessed the modern-day European variant pass by, as the European Parliament elections are nearing. They herald that, “This time is different.”
If you’ve managed to sneak a peak of your Facebook during working hours, you will have seen this video flash by: the HAPPY Voting young voter turnout campaign featuring the famous Pharrell Williams song. The team behind the video are the League of Young Voters, a project by the European Youth Forum, which aims to raise youth participation in the 2014 European Parliament elections. Why? Youth participation (18-24) in the 2009 elections dropped to 29% compared to the meagre 33% in the 2004 elections. Since its launch in 2013, LYV has set out to reverse this trend and aims to amplify the concerns of young people through its digital platform and through organising various round tables, discussions and other events.