Madeleine Cueto from Barcelona has already visited nine European countries. She would like to get to know much more of Europe in the future. For the time being, however, the 22-year-old is spending half a year in the German capital. The psychology student is completing a semester abroad at the Freie Universität Berlin – with funding from Erasmus+, the EU programme for education and training. The scholarships it provides are considered one of Europe’s greatest success stories: nine million students, trainees, interns and university teachers have gained international experience in 30 Erasmus years. It was a formative time for all of them, one that provided many new insights. Today, Erasmus scholarship holders can choose between 33 countries – the highest numbers spend their exchange period in Spain, Germany or the United Kingdom. Madeleine Cueto is therefore very much in trend.
Johanna-Leonore Dahlhoff puts diversity on the stage: the flautist is bringing together German and refugee professional musicians with an initiative called “Bridges – Musik verbindet”. It is an audible form of integration with no language barriers. That is why Bridges was presented with the 2018 Special Impact Award by KfW Stiftung and Social Impact. Dahlhoff sees the refugee question as a crucial test for Europe – but also as an opportunity: “Other cultures have musical scales and styles that initially sound a little strange to Europeans, perhaps even skewed. But it soon becomes clear how much this diversity enriches our music. I believe the same principle also applies to society,” says the 36-year-old musician. In her view, not only politics is responsible for the integration of refugees: “The subject affects us all. Everybody should make an effort with whatever means they can.”
Ali Faramarzi works on his dream every day – in a large co-working space in Frankfurt am Main. Faramarzi has an idea, a vision: He wants to make it in the big world of the tech companies, with a new technological solution. The 39-year-old software developer with Iranian roots has developed an app that uses object recognition to link physical products with digital content. “ScanVid” could, when further optimised, revolutionise the world of search engines. The European Commission supports both the idea and the founder: The future-oriented programme “Horizon 2020” finances the first phase of his start-up from the business plan to the prototype. In total the fund commits 80 billion euros to turning young start-ups into rapidly growing companies. And Faramarzi’s idea has the necessary potential.
Martin Speer and Vincent-Immanuel Herr have managed to put a good idea for Europe into practice. The two Germans, who met while studying in the US, are behind the initiative #FreeInterrail/#DiscoverEU: Their idea was that all young people in Europe should get to know their continent, its diversity, in short: the European idea better. Ideally in as direct a way as possible. What greater way to do this than with a free trip across the countries? With Speer and Herr tirelessly presenting their proposal in the media and at conferences it was not long before the EU Commission sat up and took note – and in the summer of 2018 raffled EU 15,000 rail passes to 18-year olds from all EU countries. Not that things ended there: The EU Commission has included 700 million Euros for free travel in Europe in its budget thru’ 2027 – allowing 300,000 young persons per year to discover Europe.
Christine Erzberger feels at home in Europe: The 28-year-old studied in Germany and France, completing a Master’s in European Management Studies. She now lives at the heart of the European Union, in the EU metropolis of Brussels. Like 15,000 other young Europeans, she applied for a Blue Book internship with the European Commission in Brussels. And she got it. In the summer of 2018, Christine Erzberger was able to get an insight into the workings of the European Union as part of the team led by EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who is responsible for the EU budget. She attended many high-profile meetings and experienced at close quarters how decisions are made in Europe. Her verdict: “I was impressed how devoted the EU officials were and how highly qualified” – so much so, that she very much wants to continue being a part of “team Europe”.
Daniel Röder is taking to the streets for Europe. One of the things that prompted him to do so was the British Brexit vote. “My wife and I said to ourselves: ‘We must go out and do something. We have to show ourselves. We definitely have to prevent the next step in that direction in Europe!’” That was at the end of 2016. The two lawyers had never demonstrated before, never been active for any party. But they wanted to do something and initially called upon friends and acquaintances to attend a demo in Frankfurt am Main. The Pulse of Europe movement was born – and became an overwhelming success. Not only in Germany, but all over Europe, civil society suddenly took to the streets. Since then thousands have vociferously shown their support for the European idea: every first Sunday of the month at 2:00 pm people gather for Pulse of Europe in 120 European towns and cities.