The Commission Work Programme for 2017 has a high and a low point. The high point forms part of the Youth Initiative, in itself a most worthwhile priority. The proposal to establish a European Solidarity Corps merits full support. It seeks to engage young people in worthwhile public initiatives from which they could learn social and technical skills, while understanding better today’s realities in a changing Europe. One hopes that the scheme will operate on a devolved basis, drawing fully on national bodies involved in youth affairs. The worst that could happen to it is to be subsumed in the values and concerns of people living in the Brussels bubble. By contrast the proposal to work on a European Defence Action plan and a European Defence Fund is totally ill-advised. It is the kind of project that people in the Brussels bubble will dream of in their efforts to counter what they see as Europa fatigue. Besides having unintended consequences, some of them unknown, others dangerous, a so-called European defence capability, or even a start to it, will simply end up, sooner rather than later, reinforcing the wide scepticism about the European project that these people seek to contain.

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