Everything seems impossible until it is done

Who are supposed to be the ‘climate-change refugees’? ‘Climate-change refugees’ or so called ‘environmental migrants’ are people who are forced to leave their home towns either temporarily or permanently due to sudden or progressive climate changes which compromise their well being and secure livelihood.

These changes may include increased droughts, desertification, sea revel rise, disruption of seasonal weather patterns such as monsoons, etc. Human activities like burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests contribute to global warming because they release greenhouse gases. Rising temperatures associated with global warming cause glaciers and ice caps to melt, which lead to droughts and desertification – the transformation of arable land to desert. These effects make it completely impossible for people in the region to feet on the crops and they are forced consequently to roam the world to look for better lives.    

Unlike the refugees who flee their homes due to conflict or political oppression, ‘climate-change refugees’ are not protected by international laws and may face greater political risks.

Unlike the refugees who flee their homes due to conflict or political oppression, ‘climate-change refugees’ are not protected by international laws and may face greater political risks. You have to admit, the word “refugees” should not be used in consideration of these people. It’s not them on whom we have to put the blame, because that is nature which caused it.

Nowadays, the problem of migrants is causing a great deal of wrangling in the whole world, including Europe. The European Commission has taken a comprehensive approach to tackle the refugee crisis in Europe, drawing on the various tools and instruments available at the EU level and in the member states. The European Commission gathers periodically at the summit to discuss these contemporary issues and to take corresponding measures. Statistics indicate that the number of migrants crossing Europe illegally by land and sea in 2015 has passed over one million. Of course, not all of them can be called the ‘climate-change refugees’. Some of them may migrate due to social instabilities, such as the terror attacks and the wars in the central and the Western Asia, although some people are migrating, simply because of the climate changes.Then what are the biggest challenges that ‘climate-change refugees’ are facing?

Firstly, wherever people happen to land, there would be significant traditional, cultural and religious differences. To adapt to the afterward circumstances, they would need sizeable amount of time. For example, if one has moved from Western Asia to Eastern Europe, traditional customs will have changed, from greeting others to food culture. This would affect everyone including youngsters and the next generations, trying successfully or not so to integrate into their new cultures.

Another challenge could be finding suitable jobs or finding themselves a place in the workforce.  Currently, migrant workers accounts for 150 million of the world’s approximately 232 million international migrants. Migrant workers contribute to the growth and develop in their countries of destination.
Especially having in mind the rising unemployment rate in the countries where they decide to reside. Furthermore, migration and the resulting unemployment rate have been one of the major issues in the traditional, as well as contemporary global economic scenario. And some criminal activities like robberies, thefts and various negative behaviors by unemployed migrants might arise and will disturb the public order in certain countries. To prevent these, the chances have to be given for refugees to be employed after the specific education system.

When properly managed, the refugees may have far-reaching potentials and their communities as well.

As Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous politicians said “Everything seems impossible until it is done”, other problems and challenges could occur that we might face. Yet we, as human beings have responsibilities to protect the refugees. When properly managed, the refugees may have far-reaching potentials and their communities as well. And consequently they would serve as part of the society which contributes for the economic growth of the country, overcoming ethnic differences and winning the fight for position among other people.


About the author:

Ri Kang Song (16) took part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the fifth prize of the writing competition.

We should be the change!

Climate change – a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric CO2 produced by the use of fossil fuels.

Refugee – a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape a war, persecution, or a natural disaster.

Climate-change refugees – these are people who can no longer gain a secure livelihood in their homelands because of draught, soil erosion, deforestation and other environmental problems and are forced to move out of their countries

The Earth is facing a lot of climate challenges in the past decades, which include global warming, deforestation, pollution, flood and storm disasters and other consequences as a result of them. These climate changes also affect the life of the people, who are forced in many occasions to leave their native countries and seek other lands to inhabit and make a living because they no longer can provide for themselves, or it is even dangerous to live in these areas.

They seek refuge and a safe place to live because their homes have been often destroyed by natural disasters- natural disasters caused by people or pollution.

They seek refuge and a safe place to live because their homes have been often destroyed by natural disasters- natural disasters caused by people or pollution. This problem will continue to exist and even get worse if we don’t come up with a solution.  Otherwise more and more refugees will come from the environmentally unsafe countries. And after some time, space will become less and slowly but surely the states which shelter the climate-change refugees will be overpopulated. Criminal behavior may occur along with other refugee crisis e.g. assaults against the ones seeking new homes. Poverty is another problem, as there may not be enough resources in the overpopulated areas to provide living for these climate refugees.

In 1995 the so-called environmental refugees totaled at least 25 million people, compared with 27 million traditional refugees (people running away from political conflicts, religious persecution and ethnic problems). The climate-change refugees could well double by 2010. When the global warming takes hold, there could be as many as 200 million people overtaken by rainfall regimes, by droughts of unprecedented duration and severity, and by sea-level rise and coastal flooding. * Based on Myers, N and Kent J (1995) Environmental Exodus: An Emergent Crisis in the Global Arena.

The direction of movement as predicted of scientists will be mainly from south towards north and from east towards west. This immigration will cause extreme overpopulations on small areas. One of the main problems considered, perhaps as the most vital for all of us is the food supplying. Some 20 countries with a projected population of 440 million are expected to experience up to 25% shortfall in food supplies. In addition most of the areas, which produce the most of our food and which we import from, will be destroyed due to the climate changes and more than approximately 10 to 20 million or even more people will be semi-starved by 2050.

Climate-change refugees run away because of climate change, as the name suggests. And along with the name comes the main goal we have to achieve in order these people to keep their homes – we have to change the climate as it used to be before the pollution started. And there are many things that can be done and which do not require spending money. For example, reduction of use in fossil fuels, less deforestation, as they both result in too much CO2, are the perfect ways to start our mission to save our planet and save the people. Other actions which can be taken are: walking to school, smart energy use (we should turn off the lights when walking out of the room), smart water use (we should turn off the sink tap) – these methods can help the reduction in carbon pollution over time.

Personally, I think this global problem should be voiced whenever, especially from the youths because as many surveys say the adults start to acknowledge the things they used to dismiss when the youth starts voice their opinion.

The climate-change refugee crisis has been known to exist since the second part of the 20th century. Many politicians have talked openly about the problem. But still nowadays not many of us understand the threat that’s been lurking around for years and the climate-change refugees are just the beginning. Personally, I think this global problem should be voiced whenever, especially from the youths because as many surveys say the adults start to acknowledge the things they used to dismiss when the youth starts voice their opinion. In order for our mission to begin and be successful we have to start from somewhere, we have to help raise the public awareness and I think we, the young generation, should be the beginning. We should be the change!

About the author:

Katya Georgieva Ivanova took (16) part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the fourth prize of the writing competition.

Combating climate change should be both a personal and public priority

What will be the big challenges regarding climate-change refugees in Europe in the next 50 years?

Nowadays, climate change is one of the biggest problems the world must face. What was considered as an incremental issue two decades ago, is already starting to show its numerous negative effects both on nature and on society. The question remains if we will be able to stop it in time and what the consequences will be for Europe if we don’t.

Nowadays, climate change is one of the biggest problems the world must face.

 Temperatures around the globe have been rising for decades thanks to our industrialized society and partly thanks to our recklessness when it comes to using our resources. Entire forests have been cut down, seas and oceans polluted and species erased. None of these, however, come even close to the dangerous effects of the polar ice caps melting. Not only will that have a tremendous impact on wildlife and ocean levels, but it will also cause the ocean-levels to rise. This in turn will make huge parts of our planet uninhabitable land. Cities, such as New York, Tokyo or even Amsterdam might become underwater relics in the not-so-distant future. All of this will become fact, should we not stop it while still possible.

Furthermore, should we not succeed in convincing our leaders and people that the world is really in danger and that destruction is inevitable – there will be significant consequences for the world and for Europe specifically. Our continent will be facing serious difficulties thanks to its good geographical position with the other, poorer, continents. Coastal cities disappearing will be only one of the obstacles we will be facing. Citizens of poorer countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, where even now wars are being held over water and inhabitable land, will tend to migrate to Europe in the same manner as political refugees are coming now. The only difference – wars end and their effects are reversible whereas the consequences of climate change are irreversible. Our already crowded land will become even more crowded, which resultantly will make people compete increasingly for jobs. Owing to all those factors, extreme political ideologies will make their ways back into our society and hate, racism, intolerance will become present. In turn this could lead to a rebellion of the oppressed minorities and result in a war.

The solution to all these problems lies within our own hands, change needs to happen and it needs to be soon.

 The solution to all these problems lies within our own hands, change needs to happen and it needs to be soon. Difficult as it may sound, it is fairly simple. First, we need to think for ourselves on the question whether we want big money and financial interests to influence our choice and our thinking or decades worth of scientific research and proof. Second, we need to make sure we elect people who think like us, who are not controlled by personal interests or corporations. Third, we must stand united against the threat of climate change by helping protect the environment, helping people who live in affected areas, protesting corrupt politicians and companies who pollute the environment on purpose for their own personal gain. If we manage to do all these baby steps, and every one of us stands together, we can indeed make Europe, our continent, our country a great place to live for decades to come and live the life we want, without fear of not ever being able to visit a certain city or even an entire country.

 As a conclusion, I think combating climate change should be both a personal and public priority. Even though it needs to start as small steps made by us, it should end up as steps in the right direction by our governments and the EU, to truly protect us from experiencing this horrifying picture and in order to see a better Europe in 50 years than the one we have now.

About the author:

Adrian Murat (17) took part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the second prize of the writing competition.

Viviendo con Donald



La victoria de Donald Trump ha generado muchas reacciones en las capitales europeas, desde la sorpresa, pasando por la alegría de algunos, hasta el estupor. Muchos han sido también los análisis y las explicaciones que han intentado que comprendamos mejor un resultado que no era el esperado, y sobre el que las encuestas han fallado estrepitosamente. Para los europeos es difícil entender los movimientos y los cambios que se están produciendo en la sociedad estadounidense. Se ha hablado de raza, de sexo, de edad, de clase social y de distribución geográfica para intentar explicar esta victoria. De todas ellas, el análisis más interesante es el relacionado con la globalización.

Los estadounidenses blancos de clase media y trabajadora han sido muy golpeados por la Gran Recesión. La deslocalización de las grandes industrias, que se han asentado en mercados donde los precios son más competitivos, ha dejado a una masa de trabajadores en paro y sin expectativas de futuro.

Muchos de estos trabajadores recelan de las políticas aperturistas y tolerantes de Barack Obama. Se oponen a la inmigración y a la acogida de refugiados por miedo a perder sus trabajos, y se agarran a un sentimiento nacionalista para reafirmar sus convicciones. Sienten además un profundo rencor contra las élites económicas del país, a las que culpan de su situación.

Este análisis también puede relacionarse con la victoria del Brexit en el Reino Unido, un resultado asimismo inesperado. El mensaje es sencillo: “retomemos el control” clamaba Boris Johnson en los debates previos al referéndum. “Construyamos un muro, hagamos a América grande de nuevo” afirmaba Donald Trump sin tapujos. “Votadme, no tenéis nada que perder”. Sin entrar a valorar lo histriónico y polémico de su persona, Trump ha conseguido representar ese resentimiento contra el establishment. Y también ha despertado las esperanzas de estos votantes que, en efecto, pueden llegar a sentir que no tienen nada que perder, que el sistema no tiene nada más que ofrecerles.

Los recelos sobre la globalización son legítimos. Lo hemos visto en Europa en los últimos meses, con la firme posición que ha mostrado la región de Valonia en las negociaciones del tratado de libre comercio con Canadá, o las manifestaciones que se han visto por toda Europa en contra del TTIP. Los efectos que pueden tener estos tratados sobre las condiciones laborales de los trabajadores europeos o sobre sus consecuencias medioambientales son cuestiones que deben estar presentes en el debate. No obstante, el auge de la xenofobia o el cierre de fronteras no van a solucionar estos problemas, sino más bien los agravarán. El cambio climático, por ejemplo, sólo se puede combatir si los Estados cooperan, si comparten objetivos, si tienen una visión global del problema. El aislacionismo y el odio no pueden ser la salida.

El resultado de las elecciones estadounidenses, junto con la futura salida del Reino Unido de la UE y otros ejemplos, como las elecciones presidenciales austriacas, confirman el vaticinio de muchos expertos. Nos estamos adentrando en un nuevo clash cultural, que tiene como protagonista a la globalización y a sus consecuencias. Se ha creado un nuevo conflicto ideológico a ambos lados del Atlántico, el que enfrenta por un lado a los defensores de sociedades abiertas al mundo con aquellos que propugnan sociedades cerradas, proteccionistas y en muchos casos contrarias a la diversidad cultural. Es en este segundo bando donde se encuentra Donald Trump, y su nacionalismo populista.

¿Qué puede hacer la Unión europea ante este nuevo escenario? Para empezar reafirmar su voluntad de integración. Los líderes europeos deben defender propuestas audaces y realistas que profundicen la integración en materias como la defensa, la lucha contra el cambio climático, la política exterior o la creación de oportunidades para los jóvenes. Y deben tener presentes ahora más que nunca los valores fundamentales de la Unión. El proyecto europeo siempre se basó en la tolerancia, la solidaridad y el respeto a las diferencias culturales. La crisis de refugiados ha puesto en cuestión estos valores. Las sociedades europeas deben ser capaces de progresar en su integración, y de aprovechar las ventajas de la globalización, sin que esto suponga un aumento de la intolerancia o el odio, o una desprotección de sus clases trabajadoras.

El reto es enorme, y para superarlo serán necesarias altas dosis de habilidad política y de convicción. El discurso populista y xenófobo debe ser combatido con ideas, propuestas y a través de un debate cargado de contenido ético.

Los populistas se han cobrado ya dos importantísimas victorias, y este año pueden consolidar su triunfo en las elecciones presidenciales francesas. No hemos sido capaces de percibir los peligros de su discurso hasta que no hemos visto a uno de sus principales valedores entrando en la Casa Blanca. Esta va a ser la disyuntiva que marque los próximos años y quizás las próximas décadas de nuestras vidas.

Pese a lo incierto del resultado, existen motivos para la esperanza. Ni el Brexit ni Donald Trump fueron las opciones mayoritarias entre los votantes jóvenes.

Hillary Clinton dio un discurso de concesión sosegado y solemne. Ha cometido errores en esta campaña. Muchos se han lamentado de que no haya sido capaz de romper ese último techo de cristal para las mujeres. Sin embargo, es de justicia reconocer que Clinton ya ha hecho historia, ya ha roto varios techos de cristal. Es la primera mujer que ha conseguido ser candidata a la Presidencia de Estados Unidos por uno de los dos principales partidos. Y es la primera mujer en la historia que ha ganado el voto popular en unas elecciones presidenciales en ese país. Sus defectos no deben ensombrecer lo que sin duda es una trayectoria cargada de logros.

En sus palabras dando las gracias a los que la apoyaron y reconociendo su derrota, la ex secretaria de Estado hizo a los jóvenes una última petición inspiradora: “esta derrota duele, pero por favor, nunca dejéis de creer que luchar por lo que es justo merece la pena”. Ella ya ha dejado su marca en la historia. Ahora es el momento de estar a la altura, y de empezar a dejar la nuestra.

About the author:

Nicolás - Author at Spotlight Europe

Nicolás (19) is member of the Youth Council of the Future. He participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Madrid in 2013.

Climate change denial is man-made


About a year ago I had a dinner with a very bright colleague of mine from the investment bank where I served as an intern. Initially our conversation was quite enjoyable and ranged from physics and mathematics to politics and philosophy. However, there was a topic that noticeably struck a chord with both of us and it was the legitimacy and importance of climate change. We had a prolonged and heated discussion where I made simple authoritarian but empirical arguments citing studies conducted by NASA, the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society etc and he’d respond with varying degrees of skepticism to each of those claims. Initially he’d try to challenge the impartialness of the scientific community even though recent peer-reviewed studies show that between 97% (Stuart, 2016) and 99% (Powell, 2016) of over 11,000 scientific articles state that climate change is not only real but most definitely anthropogenic. Even worse than that is the proven corruption of right-wing politicians, especially Republicans in the US, and “think-tanks” from all around the world who receive direct financing from fossil fuel billionaires like the infamous Koch brothers to finance their political campaigns (Dunlap, 2011). As a matter of fact, a lot of climate change denial in public life is a function of a corrupt political system (see Citizen’s United) and grimly reminds me of the days the tobacco industry was buying politicians to do similar claims about the uncertainty of the scientific community about the danger from cigarettes. Corporate interest is far from the only reason, though. Amongst others we have to also count intellectual laziness, failure of the educational system, inflated ego and just typical human denial of responsibility. But that’s an entirely different topic.

Going back to the conversation, my colleague would start to progressively question the accuracy of glacier monitoring techniques (Karpilo Jr, 2009), global surface temperature reconstructions (Cowtan, 2014), sea level rise measurements (Parker, 1991) etc. even though all of those experiments are measured independently on an annual basis and in several different ways and statistical models with high predictive ability have been tested again and again. The fact he will quickly deny established facts without having any expertise or empirical counterarguments was a red flag for me hinting he might be a right-wing libertarian of a kind. At some point he went so far as to discard the entire scientific method and statistics in particular as a viable instrument for acquiring understanding of the surrounding world. The entire conversation then quickly left the realm of facts and summoned both of us into the dream world of epistemolog

y, ontology and metaphysics. The tipping point was reached when he had to resort to mathematical fictionalism and the Entscheidungsproblem, basically implying that we shouldn’t make any change to the status quo because we can’t ever be completely sure of what we know now. “Force your opponent to make a metaphysical argument and then you win”, as Quine (I believe) once said.

Finally, after he perhaps felt that there is no practical and convincing way of defending his position, he moved the goal posts and started diminishing the potential impact of a “hypothetical” climate change event. His thesis was that it is not economically sound to constrain the free market and risk capital losses for an event which we could potentially adapt to with just slight discomfort. He claimed that even if the catastrophic projections of scientists actually materialize, it would still pay off more to just stick to our way of life and develop technology which will enable us to continue living in this altered environment or perhaps on another planet altogether. This was the moment when I realized that the entire conversation is not about climate science, statistics or philosophy – it was an argument between people of opposing political and economic convictions where one of the sides refuses to consider authority of any kind – even scientific, even if there is hard data present. The last thing I asked him before I left the table was: If we thought of the planet in the same way in which the managing directors of this bank think of the company and a bunch of experts told them that there is 99% chance that the company is going bankrupt in 40 years how would they react? He said nothing.

It didn’t even make sense to point out that if just the predictions for a higher acidity of the oceans meets expectations, humanity will be in dire straits, because the ocean ecosystems will be altered with unpredictable long-term consequences (Hoegh-Guldberg, 2010) which will propagate everywhere on the planet. You see, if there is really no God (or Atlas shrugging), then there is no one who keeps the delicate and intricate environmental balance which underlies our existence. It is no one’s whim whether we survive or not. And yes, while we are nearly powerless and hopeless in predicting even the immediate future with certainty, these are the best instruments we have and it’s only rational that we apply them accordingly – to the best of our knowledge. If humanity really is a fluke in an absurd world just as if hundreds of monkeys are typing on typewriters endlessly and at some point they get Encyclopedia Britannica, then we don’t want to distract those monkeys. Messing with the balance of nature, as I like to say, is thus like fiddling with the engine of a motorbike while riding it with 200 km/h on the motorway trying to win a race that we invented for its own sake – a race of technology, money and power. While we speak, extreme heat waves, flooding and heavy downpours have already affected the world’s agriculture and infrastructure and those are visible throughout the U.S. and the Middle East. It is thus arrogant not to try to reduce our impact on nature and to instead think evolution will spare us even after we altered its fitness function that spawned us in the first place so profoundly.

In retrospect, it shouldn’t surprise me that the financial world is teeming with right-wing libertarians who proudly deny empiricism and base all of their beliefs on a single arbitrary axiom that doesn’t even make sense. After all, it’s just the world’s economy and thus the world’s fate that depends on them. And yes, I will say they are quasi-religious ideologues who refuse to update their assumptions with factual reality (this is why they are the laughing stock of academic circles). They see society as a function of individuals whereas an individual is clearly only possible as a result of cohesive social structures (see Robinson Crusoe). In my opinion, one has understood what individualism means, only after he has come to the realization how interdependent everything in the universe is. The most important principle of all is that humanity is apples on an apple tree and this apple tree is Earth and this Earth peoples in the same way the apple tree grows apples (see Gaia hypothesis). We have to understand that the bee cannot exist without the flower and thus can be thought of as one and the same thing. In the same way a man cannot exist without society and vice versa. Therefore we should start thinking of our habitat as we think of our streets and houses. We are part of nature and we are animals. Our cities are just complex bee hives. We are not disconnected from our surroundings, and we are not infinitely adaptable and immune to the consequences of o

ur own actions. We are not freaks of nature. We are it and we should start acting like it.


Cowtan, K. a. (2014). Coverage bias in the HadCRUT4 temperature series and its impact on recent temperature trends. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society.

Dunlap, R. E. (2011). Organized climate change denial. The Oxford handbook of climate change and society, 144-160.

Hoegh-Guldberg, O. a. (2010). The Impact of Climate Change on the World’s Marine Ecosystems. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 328, 1523-1528.

Karpilo Jr, R. D. (2009). Glacier monitoring techniques. The Geological Society of America.

Parker, B. B. (1991). Sea Level as an Indicator of Climate and Global Change. Marine Technology Society.

Powell, J. L. (2016). Climate Scientists Virtually Unanimous: Anthropogenic Global Warming Is True. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society. doi:10.1177/0270467616634958

Stuart, J. C. (2016). Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming. Environmental Research Letters, 11(4). Retrieved from http://stacks.iop.org/1748-9326/11/i=4/a=048002

About the author:

Picture Bogomil Todorov GospodinovBogomil Todorov Gospodinov (21) took part in our “My Europe” workshop in Sofia in 2012. He is currently studying Computer Science at the University of Southampton in England.



Careers in Today’s Europe

When you finish school and embark on a career, we expect a better Europe. These days, almost a quarter of young Europeans in the labor market are unable to find a job, according to a European Commission report last year. The same report also found that our unemployment rate in the EU is the highest in world outside of the Middle East and Africa – right now, more than 5.5 million young Europeans do not have jobs.

Of even more concern, the report found that 7.5 million young Europeans between the ages of 15 and 24 years old are not employed, not in school and not in training. Even when the European economy improves, whether you want to have a high-flying career or just a steady job, an education will remain the best way to reach your goal. If you leave school before obtaining any degrees, or if you only receive the lowest possible degree, you will hardly stand out when you look for work.

People quit school for many reasons, and the EU has embarked on structural reforms to help overcome this problem. We now understand that the overriding reason young people are having trouble advancing is that they lack skills relevant to the workplace. That is why we need more robust education-to-employment systems in Europe.

This means that, as a young European who will be looking for work in the coming years, you probably will not get your desired job immediately. Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to set yourself up for your future:

  • take the opportunity to continue to educate yourself
  • balance education with a profession by getting a part-time job while you study
  • be flexible and ready to change, either by switching to a different company or to a different position in the same company
  • believe in your own ideas and be known and appreciated by teachers and colleagues
  • persevere and don’t get discouraged – employers love positive and enthusiastic people

Of course, employers must also make sure that young talent is not wasted. At UniCredit, we are trying to do our part in three different ways:

First, we are promoting studies in economics, finance, law, politics and social sciences. We do this through the UniCredit & Universities Foundation, which supports promising students and researchers, offers grants and awards for scientific publications and promotes numerous initiatives in cooperation with Europe’s main universities.

Second, to help foster the young talent among our more than 147,000 employees at UniCredit, I have also made it a priority to build a workforce based on merit. The quality of a person’s work depends on many factors, including what he or she knows and has experienced, how he or she performs in different scenarios, and how he or she manages relations with colleagues and clients. To hire or promote someone based on those traits is the definition of meritocracy.

Most big companies understand the right attitude and personality are needed to develop a true meritocracy. UniCredit hires people through an impartial process that values the knowledge and skills of the candidate, and whether he or she shares the values of our Integrity Charter: fairness, transparency, respect, freedom to act, trust and reciprocity.

With greater meritocracy in Europe, we will be better equipped to compete at the international level. In the last two decades, productivity per hour has increased by 10 percent in Spain, 20 percent in France and Germany, and 30 percent in the US. In Italy, meanwhile, productivity per hour has not changed. Clearly we must do better.

Third, to enhance the quality of work among our people at UniCredit, I firmly believe in the power of feedback. It is often difficult to hear criticism from others, but accepting constructive feedback is critical to improving yourself – it helps you to better see your strengths and pinpoint where to focus your efforts. An honest assessment is the secret to creating a meritocracy, and it is also how you can better understand what you want out of your future career.

Performance evaluations can sometimes frustrate or discourage us, but they are essential for successful development. They help give responsibility to those who deserve it, recognize potential and reward hard work. This type of feedback is so important that at UniCredit, we now conduct annual performance evaluations for both managers and staff.

When you embark on your own careers, it is my hope that you are equipped with the right competencies, hired based on your proven skills and potential, and you are comfortable giving and receiving productive feedback. Given the initiatives being planned or currently underway, I am optimistic that Europe is turning the corner, and that more employment opportunities will become available for new entrants to the job market. Success in this area is essential to ensuring Europe remains a key player on the global stage for years to come.

About the author:

Federico GhizzoniFederico Ghizzoni is Chief Executive Officer of UniCredit S.p.A. with almost 150.000 employees. Since 2012 he supports the “My Europe” Initiative as a Member of the Board of Patrons for European Youth. more…


PS: Federico Ghizzoni will gladly answer all questions you might have. However, due to time constraints, he cannot do so regularly. We will collect your questions and comments that have been submitted until and including November 21, 2014, and will pass them on to him. For all questions submitted after that, we cannot guarantee an answer.