Today, the European Commission is launching a new call for applications for DiscoverEU travel passes. All 18-year-olds in the EU have until 16 May 2019 to apply, giving them the opportunity to discover Europe between 1 August 2019 and 31 January 2020.
This new application round follows a very successful first year for the initiative that enables young people to explore Europe’s cultural diversity and shared values. For this second year of DiscoverEU, the European Commission is focusing on enhancing the learning dimension of the project. Participants will be provided with information and travel tips about what to visit in Europe. Those interested can also receive a travel journal for them to record and reflect on their experiences, and will have the possibility to participate in organised community-building events during their trips.
In parallel, the Commission is working to make DiscoverEU more inclusive and more accessible to all by making the application system even easier to use, providing tips for budget-friendly travelling and by accommodating, as far as possible, the needs of young people with disabilities so that they are able to travel.
Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “I am proud to take the DiscoverEU initiative forward and give more young people a chance to have a truly European experience. I hope that becoming part of DiscoverEU will inspire them to become engaged in their communities and become ambassadors for Europe. Whether it’s voting in the European Parliament elections, encouraging their peers to do the same, or working with us to build lively societies. Young people are the future of Europe, and it is critical their voices are heard.”
Who can apply and how?
Applicants must have been born between 2 July 2000 (included) and 1 July 2001 (included) and be prepared to travel between 1 August 2019 and 31 January 2020 for a maximum period of 30 days. Those interested in taking part can apply via the European Youth Portal. An evaluation committee will assess the applications and select the winners. Applicants will be notified of the selection results in June 2019.
Successful applicants will be able to travel individually or in a group of up to five people. As a general rule, they will travel by rail. However, to ensure wide access across the continent, participants can also use alternative modes of transport, such as buses or ferries or, exceptionally, planes. This will ensure that young people living in remote areas or on islands part of the EU will also have a chance to take part.
DiscoverEU is a travel experience open to young Europeans, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to learn whilst travelling. The Commission launched the initiative in June 2018 with an initial budget of €12 million; the budget for 2019 is €16 million. So far, DiscoverEU has given around 30,000 young people the opportunity to travel around Europe, explores the continent’s rich cultural heritage, get in touch with other people, learn from other cultures and experience what unites Europe. The first year of DiscoverEU brought together thousands of young people building a community across Europe. Participants who had never met before linked up on social media, formed groups to travel from city to city or stayed at each other’s places.
The European Commission is planning to launch a fourth application round before the end of 2019.
The European Commission proposed €700 million for DiscoverEU under the future Erasmus programme in the EU’s next long-term budget (2021-2027). If the European Parliament and the Council agree to this proposal, an additional 1.5 million 18-year-olds would be able to travel between 2021 and 2027.
‘New dawn’ for Europe as War in Ukraine Strengthens EU and Support for Enlargement
The European Union surprised the world, and even itself, with the speed, scale and unity of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This “new” Europe is ready to project both soft and hard power on the world stage, European leaders told participants at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022.
Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank, on the panel at the session, European Unity in a Disordered World?, said the Ukraine war has revealed how powerful Europe is collectively: “This is a new dawn for Europe.”
The war on Ukraine has also revealed weaknesses – including global supply chain vulnerabilities and over-reliance on Russian energy, she said, but Europe is addressing this and can begin to flex its muscles on the global stage. “Europe has untapped purchasing power, trading power, technology power, pension power and moral power.”
Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, reinforced the point. “This is Europe’s moment,” she said. “Europe can become the global project for peace.”
Mistakes of the past will be rectified, she said. “For way too long we did not seriously consider an energy union where we can rely on each other rather than on a country that can switch us off at any time.”
Referring to the EU’s support and defence of Ukraine, she was emphatic: “This is not the time to talk about face-saving for Russia or appeasement.”
Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovakia, also on the panel, said: “If Ukraine falls to Russian aggression, Slovakia is next.” He added that we must continue to provide military support as well as step up humanitarian aid. “Above all we need to give Ukrainians hope.”
“Let’s not compromise – we must remain faithful to the values of the EU – freedom, rule of law, human dignity and equal rights.”
Micheál Martin, Taoiseach of Ireland, said of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “The people of Europe have spoken. Enough is enough.” In response there is much stronger unanimity between member states and more support than ever to accept the accession of new members.
He continued: “We see the EU’s future in terms of the green economy and in terms of the digitalization but also in terms of enlargement.”
Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, called on European member states to continue to raise their defence spending. “The NATO alliance members are inseparable, but Europe must play its part,” he said. “This will help transform Europe from a soft power to a hard power.”
Geopolitical Crises Forcing Leaders to Face up to Difficult New Realities
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda delivered a harsh rebuke to Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, pledging “100% support” for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and calling for Moscow to pay reparations to Kyiv. “I simply cannot accept that Russia can violate international law with impunity.”
Russian aggression against Ukraine has revived unity within the West and highlighted for many Western nations the importance of democratic values. Finland and Sweden, notably, have set aside their longstanding policies of neutrality and applied to join NATO. “We are in a totally new situation and have to wake up to that,” said Pekka Haavisto, Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, noting that the collapse of the post-war European security architecture, as well as Russia’s increased appetite for risk, were among the major factors prompting Finland to apply for membership.
Haavisto said that in this “grey time” between the Nordic country’s application to join the alliance and its potential full accession, when it will enjoy mutual security protection under Article 5 of the NATO charter, NATO members have given Finland and Sweden assurances that they will guarantee security. Asked about Turkey’s stated objection to extension of membership to Finland and Sweden, he expressed confidence that Helsinki can address concerns.
Alarmed by an increasingly competitive geopolitical landscape marked by mounting frictions between the United States and China, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, emphasized the need for cooperation.
“If we learned anything from COVID, it is that we need to focus on cooperation and I think we need to continue to look towards avenues to foster that cooperation. Even when there is difference, when there’s competition, we need to find mechanisms to talk to each other.” He noted that Saudi Arabia, which values both its extensive trade relationship with China and its national security relationship with the US, is well-positioned to facilitate dialogue between the world’s leading powers.
Prince Faisal’s remarks were echoed by Pakistan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, who commented on the “binary choice” that countries with close ties to both China and the US are increasingly asked to make. “We are typically asked this question all the time: Who do you choose? It shows how far we have fallen as a global community,” she said. This is particularly difficult, she noted, for a country like Pakistan, which is already in fiscal crisis and now faces “the superimposition of a food security crisis”.
Gregory W. Meeks, Democratic Congressman from New York’s 6th District and Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign, praised the bipartisan support for a recent Senate bill pledging $40 billion in humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, as well as the broad international support that Ukraine has received.
He also focused on the potential food crisis, emphasizing the need to break the blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports so Ukrainian grain can be delivered to the many countries that depend on it. “You got to open [the port of Odessa] up because that’s not been just limited to what’s happening in Ukraine; this threatens the entire world.”
Madrid is host to next month’s NATO summit and Spain’s Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares Bueno, praised the alliance’s response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. But he emphasized the threat that the looming food crisis, if left unresolved, could pose to Europe. Noting that the Sahel – the region of North Africa bordering the Sahara – is not only already deeply food-insecure, he warned that rising cereal prices could set off a potentially destabilizing northward migration. “Unity is our best defence.”
WEF calls for new partnerships to generate private capital for fragile communities
The World Economic Forum released today a paper that calls for new collaboration between humanitarian and development organizations, businesses, investors and entrepreneurs to make a difference to the lives of the nearly 1 billion people living in fragile and conflict-affected settings worldwide.
Cultivating Investment Opportunities in Fragile Contexts: Catalysing Market-Driven Solutions to Strengthen Community and Economy Resilience outlines a practical approach to how organizations can build the capacity and strategic thinking needed to develop a sustainable business case for solutions that have the potential to unlock new sources of finance to reach impact at scale.
“It takes more than a single intervention to unleash transformational change in complex ecosystems. To truly leverage the potential for positive and sustainable social impact while meeting investor demand for returns, new ways of collaboration across sectors are needed,” said Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum.
The IKEA foundation is a partner of this initiative. Over the next three years the partnership will develop innovative business models and investments that strengthen local economies and increase the self-reliance and resilience of the most vulnerable communities and economies.
“We support the World Economic Forum because of our mutual goal to improve the lives of people who are affected by crises, including those who are forced to flee,” said IKEA Foundation CEO Per Heggenes. “We believe that together we can help attract the investment needed to strengthen fragile communities and empower the people who live in them to rebuild their lives and create a better future for children and their families.”
The joint discussion paper is an evolution of the work initiated by the Forum’s Humanitarian and Resilience Investing (HRI) Initiative, which was launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.
As a first step, the initiative will operationalize the Organizational Readiness Playbook launched in 2020, and bring together a cohort of pioneers from humanitarian and development organizations, donor governments and development finance institutions to increase organizational capacity for HRI.
The initiative will also support investment opportunities targeting HRI to meet investor criteria and attract the commercial capital needed to reach scale. It will further facilitate the development of new tools, research and resources, including the standards, common terminology and analytic frameworks that allow for systems-level impact measurement.
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