Thoughts about consequences of the crisis on young people in Brussels
I have chosen Europe four years ago, when I discovered that the European Union was making too many laws and maybe too much with a neoliberal stamp. I said to myself, “Ok after my Erasmus, let’s go to Brussels to change the path”. So, now, I am in Brussels, not changing anything but experiencing the Euro Bubble during the crisis. The Euro Bubble represents the codified world in which people working for European institutions, lobbying groups, consulting companies and medias perform their role.
Ironically, even if the Euro Bubble is almost certainly the place where we talk about eurocrisis the most, it is not experiencing the crisis. Do not believe that certain people are not experiencing it. Of course, people working for the EU institutions are far from experiencing the crisis. Consulting companies hire employees, lobbyists spend tons of money for influencing the EU legislation. Then, the Euro Bubble attracts. It attracts plenty of interns, some idealistic young expats dreaming to participate in the European construction, the career-oriented ones dreaming to earn money.
Nevertheless, the Euro Bubble is a world of overqualified people where the competition is very tough. Together with the consequences of the crisis, the European district becomes a vicious world where dreams of youth are slowly killed. The big issue is that it does not only concern materialistic dreams e.g. good salary, interesting job but likewise affect our dreams of equality.
After some months in Brussels, all young expats cannot dream about a paid internship. If internships at the EU institutions are correctly remunerated, it is not the case of the majority of offered internships which are generally unpaid. Besides, after 5 years of studies at least, it is deeply unfair to get paid 1050 euros per month at the most. Moreover, if young people think they will have an interesting and productive job in Brussels, they become disenchanted quickly. In comparison to their qualification, they often have boring and repetitive tasks, instead of very rewarding research or analyses.
Of course, the crisis has not created this situation but it contributes in amplifying it. First, more and more young European professionals believe that Brussels is more attractive than theirs respective countries. Second, as we are in a period of crisis, people are more willing to accept any opportunity, especially in a very competitive world such as the Euro Bubble. As a result, youth makes an insidious shift regarding theirown dreams. We do not dream any longer about having a good job, we are dreaming to have one. We do not dream any longer to make something really enriching but we settle ourselves with dull and unimportant tasks.
As far as I am concerned, the worst is not even this situation that all young people have to face in Europe. The worst is that this is killing our dreams of equality. In times of economic crisis, social inequality becomes increasingly decisive on the capacity of youth to cope. Wealth and network of the family influence opportunities that young people could get or not. Precisely, the Euro Bubble catalyzes social and economic inequalities. Indeed, as the EU is a cosmopolitan world, it is essential to speak several languages, to have studied in prestigious places and to already have a lot of experiences. Unfortunately, the society has not succeeded yet to ensure equal opportunities. That’s why people from high income families have more chance to fulfill the requirements. it is easier to have benefited from a long term language stay, to have made internships instead of working during holiday and to have been in a prestigious school. Yet, high income families often have a strong cultural capital and a more relevant network which may be useful for the progeny. Thus, in period of crisis, in the Euro Bubble, we feel even more how our respective social condition impacts our professional future.
What are the consequences of the crisis in general? It exacerbates society’s imperfections which have not been solved and intensifies them. Its consequences on me? It contributes to killing my dreams.