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Every day we see some headline or article predicting massive loss of jobs due to digitalization, plants closing, AI replacing humans and how the new digital and technological revolution will be so disruptive that will cause massive chaos. This might all be true, but on the other side, i think digitalization may be a big opportunity that can improve our lives if we prepare for it. In fact, it already improves our lives, Look at how much knowledge can be easily acessible to everyone because of digitalization and the proliferation of apps? Look at how interconnected we are and how we can share experiences, ideas or thoughts something that greatly improves public policy. And in the near future, can you imagine how much better will be when thousands of boring and repetitive jobs will be performed by machines while humans work on more creative activities? I think technology will harness our potential as human beings! That doesn’t mean we should not regulate technological progress. On the contrary; we should be vigilant about it and use it for our needs. If not, technology will end up benefiting the very few who control it and that will certainly lead to political disruption. I suggest a few policies that we could promote as social democrats: Mandatory teaching of the basic of programming and AI in all schools and universities: It sounds radical but we are on the verge of a big revolution; we need a big reform in the curriculum of schools. We can only prepate the next generation for future jobs if we have a more modern and futuristic education now. In some elite schools this is already happening; doing this in all schools assures some degree of equality of opportunities Labor rights in freelance platforms: It’s an undeniable reality that freelancer jobs represent in part the future of labour. Some in my generation are forced to do these kind of jobs, others prefer a more relaxed lifestyle with flexible work. Either way, there should be some rules and there are ways to enhance the lives and opportunities of freelancers: allowing every freelancer to keep it’s positive reviews when working in another platform(If i work at uber and have positive reviews should be able to keep them if going to work in a competitor like cabify etc); allow workers to have a right to sick pay when they work for a certain platform for a certain period of time. There are countless of other policies, that i could highlight, some were already tried but i’m broadly optimistic about the future if we set in motion a serious of important policies now to prepare for tomorrow.
Cities are, right now, part of the problem in adressing climate change. Cities consume 2/3 of the world’s energy and are responsible for 70% of global CO2 emissions. In order to build a sustainable future, cities need to become part of the solution. There is so much that needs to be done, we need to increase the use of renewable energy(wind, solar etc), upgrade the energy efficiency in buildings, transit to electric vehicles with lithium-air batteries, support community farms(intensive farming has a negative impact in global warming). Cities need to do this but they can’t do it alone; these changes are necessary but expensive. And this is where the European Union is important. The EU has the dimension, funds and power to push for this transition by creating a Green New Deal. A Green New Deal would build a sustainable and more green future in Europe but also solve the problems of chronical unemployment. With all the problems that unfair trade policies create to Blue-Collar Working class; green collar jobs are the alternative ! They can’t be shipped overseas and many of them can’t be replaced by technology in the near future. We will need green building architects, solar energy engineers, eletricians who install solar panels, worker’s that insulate older buildings and many other jobs of low, medium and high skill that need to be here in Europe! I’m optimistic about these changes, after all, cities are the magnet for innovation, entrepeneurship and development and the combination in a partnership with businesses and the European Union we will build a more susteinable future.
Every five years, there is an european debate on how to increase turnout in european elections, which have historically low participation. A lot has been done, many students in europe learn about the EU in school which is vital for them to understand this organization and know how to participate; also the spitzenkandidaten process gives more transparency to the whole election process. However there is a lot to be done; european elections still have a low participation, european citizens feel distant and national politicians continue to neglect these elections. One of the errors in adressing this problem is exactly the overfocus on the european elections. Make no mistake, participation in the european election is vital for our institutions, but we can’t expect a high turnout if we have only the debate about democratic participation from 5 to 5 years. Democracy shoulnd’t be a quinquennial voting event. European institutions should make na effort to promote democratic participation in the dailylife of european citizens. If so, the interest about european matters will increase, european election turnout will be higher! The idea of citizen’s conventions is interesting. I think it would be important to bring together national policy makers, european leaders to discuss the future of Europe with ordinary citizens. Some fear that these public debates will give euroscpetics a platform to preach the gospel against an United Europe. That’s indeed a risk. But if it’s there is a need to discuss why the european union makes sense it is better to do so in these popular conventions than let fake news accounts in social media to the job. Another important idea would be EU participatory budgets – A process in which citizens decide where to spend part of the public budget. This would make civil society discuss and engage much more with the EU. In my city, Lisbon, participatory budgets were such sucess in terms of civic engagement that the national government is doing 2 nationwide participatory budgets, one just for young people and other for everyone. A special attention needs to be paid to disenfranchised and marginalized communities like city suburbs or rural areas. These communities normally don’t vote in european elections and if they do that, they vote for candidates that blame the EU for state of their lives. The EU needs to work with national governments to improve it’s presence and representation in these areas. Social media ads are very important but it’s more effective to contact directly with ordinary people, make them know about the advantages of the EU and why they should participate in the european democracy. If it’s done, i have no doubt people would be more willing to turnout and participate in the european decision making.