One week after the referendum that made clear the will of the English people to exit the European Union, and the political and institutional mess that followed, it is useful to think about the repercussions this decision will have on young people.
They will be the main victims of this verdict. They were born with broad horizons and no borders, they are accustomed to have friends all over the world. They are the generation of structured couchsurfing, who do not need a hotel to visit a city, but just need a couch at a friend’s place, maybe a friend they met at university. This is the Erasmus generation, often owning more than one citizenships, which never thought of needing a visa or a passport to spend a weekend in a country lying less than two hours of flight from home. This is the generation that takes courses in English to have further chances of seeing new places.
LUISS activated more than 150 exchange programs with partner universities abroad. Furthermore, there are 20 double degree programs, which give students the chance of spending one year abroad studying and taking a double diploma. There are no “exits” for those who have such opportunities.
The young men and women who live in our universities’ premises, the young graduates who left to find opportunities abroad, who are citizens of one or more countries and speak at least two languages fluently: our fragile Europe belongs to them, who prefer building bridges than raising barriers.
Brexit is not the end of Europe, but it represents a wall built for those aged 20-30, who really can no longer stand barriers. It represents a slowing down for those who want to find opportunities even abroad, meaning not just a brain drain, but a straight will to get familiar with new worlds and cultures.
What will the consequences of Brexit be? Hard to say. But of course, the dream of a united Europe will not crumble beneath the weight of referendums in the mind of those who feel real citizens of this Europe.