From Pythagoras to national trivia, EU students are loaded with knowledge, but miss out on a vital life skill—being active European citizens. To combat threats like the rise of the far right and apathy, we need a game-changer: a unified citizenship education, a shared European curriculum empowering youth and building resilience against democratic erosion.

Education shapes beliefs, and a common European citizenship-education framework, founded on universal norms, can bridge the EU-citizen gap. A curriculum embracing knowledge of European integration, critical thinking skills, and a disposition for active citizenship is the key. Practical engagement, like student-led decision-making and debate clubs, puts theory into action, fortifying democratic commitment.

While existing programs like the European Youth Portal offer opportunities, their outreach is limited. It’s time to weave the EU into national school systems, ensuring all, not just the ‘usual suspects,’ benefit from European youth opportunities. However, caution is needed to avoid blurring the lines between youth and education policies.

Marching toward a unified EU curriculum, the European Parliament’s non-legislative resolution on citizenship education is a significant stride. The Commission’s promise of a comprehensive strategy, a €60 billion investment, and the integration of a citizenship-education benchmark by 2025 reveal political intent. Yet, procedural promises must materialize into action. Citizenship education shouldn’t be top-down; we must demand more than voluntary adoption by member states.

Critics argue the EU lacks educational competence, and Eurosceptic governments push ethnonationalist views. But a unified EU curriculum can counter the far right and safeguard universal values—democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Education becoming an EU competence might require treaty changes, but let’s remember the EU’s history of evolving through crises. With the looming European elections and the need for democratic innovation, it’s high time for change—starting in schools, with a unified European citizenship curriculum.

 

Article by RÉKA HESZTERÉNYI from socialeurope.eu

 

 

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