The future is here. The world is changing rapidly while stereotypes are collapsing. The new generation is seeking new roles and identity, beyond the conservative determination and assumptions. The emerging challenges are for the first time greater than the human size: we cannot deal with climate change locally and if we do not deal with it at all, the consequences for humanity will be dramatic; economic inequalities are not met only in countries with economic and political problems but they have reached even the most developed ones and, as they grow, democracy is losing its political substance, facing the threats of populism; security combined with open society was an „experiment“ that worked for years, but now it is considered incompatible from both extremes of the political spectrum, that nowadays see their influence increasing, generating risks for the liberal global order as we knew it.
Certain surveys (see: Eurobarometer-EY2016), emphasise that although young people keep a distance from politics, they do have a profound political perception. This suggests that while they are concerned with political issues, they do not find the most fitting political channels of expression. Here lies the great responsibility for the liberals: we must clearly (re-) articulate our values, especially in the areas of human and civil rights, democracy, social market economy and European integration. It is also crucial to tackle populism in its essence and isolate the elements of the „extreme centre,” that distort the spirit of the theory of liberalism.
At the beginning of its second period in Greece (2012), the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom understood the call of many young people for proper means of conduct for a broad, open, mature and permanent political discourse that will enlighten and educate democratic, progressive and liberal citizens. Responding to this need, we established a political academy which, since 2013, has been organizing liberal seminars, workshops and conferences throughout the country.
Over the years, hundreds of students, young professionals, journalists and councillors have been trained, many of whom have participated in pan-European forums and events.
This process gave birth to the Young Liberals, the first liberal think tank for the young people that continues the dialogue in Greece and the rest of Europe. Since 2017, we run together the Liberal Laboratory (LibLab), which focuses on specific social, economic and political issues. This book is LibLab‘s fruit. A product of mature dialogue in successive discussions with different participants across Greece, the text reflects the views of liberal young people on the position of the new generation in Europe.
Many people have worked to consolidate this publication. In this short introductory note, I want to thank Ms Vassiliki Missira, Doctor of European Politics and a European Commission official, for the editing, as well as the Young Liberals, in the name of their Chairman, Mr George-Marinos Papanikolaou, for the tireless organizational work. We hope that this book will be a sophisticated basis for dialogue among the progressive young people of all ages and it will be a useful aid for those who study the liberal ideas.