Dieser Beitrag entstand für Libertas, das Mitgliedermagazin der European Liberal Youth (LYMEC).
Graham Watson: Graham Watson has served as a Member of the European Parliament for South West England since 1994. He was the leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) between 2002 and 2009 and he was the first British Liberal Democrat ever to be elected to the European Parliament. Born in Rothesay, Scotland, in 1956, Graham pursued a degree in Modern Languages at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. He is a qualified interpreter who speaks four European languages.
Graham, have you ever been unemployed?
Watson: Luckily not. But two of my brothers and one of my sisters experienced periods of unemployment. It was awful.
What is so important about jobs?
Watson: Work is fundamental to giving people dignity. Work gives people status. It allows them to develop themselves properly.
Why is youth unemployment such a huge problem in Europe these days, Graham?
Watson: Many countries in Western Europe have pursued policies which favoured those in work keeping their jobs at the expense of those who are not in work. It is a strange sort of protectionism in the workforce. Fortunately, in the United Kingdom youth unemployment is much less of a problem than it is on the continent. We have not followed those policies with the result that youth unemployment is lower.
At our autumn congress, the European Liberal Youth discussed a resolution calling for higher education to be based on the demands of the labour market. Is this necessary for reducing youth unemployment?
Watson: I studied languages. Not quite what the labour market demands, many people would say. But I have never had a problem finding a job. I think we have to be very careful here. There is the danger that if all of your university degrees are vocational that you will lose the diversity of thoughts. That is why there is a benefit in allowing people to study classical literature, if that is what they wish to do.
What can the European Parliament do to create jobs for the young?
Watson: I believe investment in infrastructure is crucial. The European Union will be spending about 35 billion Euros in the next five years on public transport, for instance. Another ten billion Euros will be invested in the development of super-fast broadband Internet. This allows people to get their products and services to the market. We will be spending another ten billion Euros on energy distribution networks and this will lead to a rapid take-off of renewable energies which will create many jobs. Green growth is a huge opportunity. One of my brothers who was out of work is actually now running a company that installs solar panels.
What do you think will happen if youth unemployment is not tackled rapidly?
Watson: All of history has taught us that if you have large number of people unemployed for a long time then you risk political upheaval. This is a danger for countries such as Spain.
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