Exchange programmes for students are a good thing, to be sure. Exchange programmes for European students within Europe are even better; three months in Toledo, Rheims or Leipzig for a girl from Chichester will generally provide a maturity and roundness of experience that three months in Goa or on a Thai beach will not. So the EU Erasmus programme, which provides small grants for European students to visit eachother's countries, is generally a good thing. But as usual the Euro fanaticists have lost touch with reality. Stefan Wolff believes Erasmus will create a new cadre of pan-European leaders and prevent war for evermore on the continent. Berlaymont is striving for ever more ambitious numbers; 3m Erasmus alumni by 2012. Both are aghast at the effect of Euro budgetary belt-tightening on this ever-expanding programme, and no doubt disappointed Euro students will take up their placards in protest if Cameron succeeds in blocking the budget increases.
Polish philosopher Jarosław Makowski also thinks the Erasmus generation are Europe's future - but a new 'sustainable' Europe of windmills, soya protein, bicycles and universal welfare entitlements;
The Eramus generation is one faced with a prospect of joblessness. A generation experiencing a crisis of hope. At the same time, it is one that has grown to know Europe’s diversity through peer contact. A generation that, because of its hopeless situation, understands what the great Czech philosopher, Jan Patočka, called the “solidarity of the shocked”. This common fate means that the Erasmus generation knows today that the world as we know it is coming to an end. What is beginning? The future is in our hands. A time is coming for today’s “lost generation” to start constructing a new Europe. We need a new progressive policy that would not be based on the logic of growth, but on a radical departure from it. Today, the really free are not those saying “more, more, more” (more shopping, more credit, more devastation of Mother Earth), but those who have the strength and faith to say “enough!”Alas, I'm not sure the good professor has actually met any actual Erasmus exchange students. We had a couple on placement. Their sense of entitlement was enormous, and they believed religiously only in a right to free music and film, were utterly selfish even in the little things, like using the last of the milk in the fridge without popping out to get some more, and believed only in their own right to a permanent job with an unrealistic starting salary. If they were representative of Europe's future, or of Europe's future leaders, God help us.