My name is Stylia, I am 24 years old and have studied international and European studies.
Has the crisis really come to an end? An average observer not living in Greece might as well say so. Greece is no longer making big headlines, the Memorandum ‘expires’ in May and the rating agencies give out positive ratings. What is more, the majority of the media are talking about success stories and the words of praise from EU leaders. However, five years of austerity and dozens of reforms are yet to be digested – and the long-term consequences will have a major impact on society.
The younger generation is particularly affected by the scourge of the crisis. The great majority of the young people in Greece feel frustrated about paying the price for something they are not to blame for. “If only we had been born in the early 1980s, then we would have been able to realise our dreams!” This phrase reflects the deep disappointment and frustration that young Greeks and many other young Europeans share.
After the ‘700 euros generation’ before the eruption of the financial crisis, we are now talking about the ‘500 euros generation’ with the age limit unspecified. But the money is not the only problem. More important are the scars the crisis has left on the young.
Where is our young generation actually standing today?
Some have fled abroad, making use of their skills, adaptability, courage and creative frustration to make a new start elsewhere.
Then, there are the unemployed who are looking for a job and cannot find one, isolating themselves more and more from the labour market, with as sole support the family safety net.
Then there are those who work and have seen their career prospects and their incomes being trimmed or even gave up their labour and insurance rights in fear of losing their jobs.
There are also those who can still count on family support and thus are able to upgrade their skills. They will probably leave soon as well.
There are those who have given up school and studies to support their family at any price.
There are those who dare to start their own businesses in spite of all the hardships and burdens, and those who hold on to their jobs in desperation trying to survive on however little they pay.
And, finally, there are those who excel in their jobs or projects against all difficulties.
Things are crucial in Europe to the younger generation as many face the challenge of having to live below the standards of their families. If this happens Europe has to accept that it has failed.
It is of vital importance to understand that creating employment for young people – in Greece and elsewhere In Europe — is not solely a matter of social policy and cyclical income ‘settlements’, but a question of economic and educational policy. It is a matter of distributing incentives and opportunities within a modern educational system that initiates the culture of knowledge, research, technological development, creative competition, networking and self-education.
Politicians are well aware of the ‘lost generation’ issue, and attempt to approach and tame the young voters. However, what would make the young generation really powerful, is to get more involved in politics and fight for their rights.