Springeneration.eu online project
The momentous changes that have taken place in MENA countries over the last months have had a deep impact not only on the region, but the whole world. Europe, which is just 14 kilometres away from the closest point in North Africa and shares a long history with the region, should be a front-runner in supporting this democratic wave in the North African states. Although developments have unfolded differently in different MENA countries, the ‘Arab Spring’ created a momentum of change that cannot be reversed. Moreover, it is in the interest of the EU to see the ‘Arab Spring’ succeed. This current situation in the Middle East is an opportunity for the EU to forge a new, genuine, equal and more inclusive partnership with the MENA countries and to give practical help to countries that need it.
To achieve this, Europe needs first to listen. Young Arabs, who became the change they wanted to see, can give excellent guidelines for Europe’s future policy actions. To this end, the CES created an online survey, which was officially launched at the EPP Congress in Marseille in December 2011. With the title ‘Springeneration’—a reference to the Arab Spring and the young generation of rising leaders who have been pivotal in that movement—the survey aimed to solicit ideas and feedback from people in the MENA countries about how to forge a new partnership with Europe. Participants had the opportunity to describe how they envisioned their future, what was important to them and how Europeans could show solidarity with, and support the aspirations of people in the MENA region.
The online survey could be accessed at www.springeneration.eu and was available in English, French and Arabic. Target groups were young Arabs, mostly in North African countries, but also in the Gulf and across the greater Middle East. The survey had a wide impact, including on social media platforms, especially on Facebook. As a result of this, by the end of the survey more than 70,000 participants had contributed with more than 25,000 comments and ideas. Their input was subsequently analysed qualitatively and quantitatively, and, based on the most recurring themes, Research Associate Katarina Kralikova and Hanan Rezk produced a research study looking at the role of education and youth entrepreneurship in the post Arab Spring MENA region. The results of this study were further discussed with 9 selected participants of the online survey, who joined us in the European Parliament in November 2012 for a lively debate alongside Members of the European Parliament dealing with foreign policy and related issues in the MENA area.