Around 90 intellectuals have warned of Europe's demise and appealed to European governments to create a volunteer service that all Europeans could take part in - regardless of age or experience.
The signatories to the appeal, which was published on Thursday in numerous European newspapers, blames European elites for a political system that they describe as rescuing indebted banks and squandering young people's future in the process.
"[The] top-down Europe, the Europe of elites and technocrats that has prevailed up to now …considers itself responsible for forging the destiny of the citizenry of Europe - if need be, against its will," the manifesto says. "[It] is this unspoken maxim of European politics that is threatening to destroy the entire European project."
The declaration, entitled "We are Europe! Manifesto for rebuilding Europe from the bottom up," proposes expanding the European Voluntary Service, which pays for 16-to-30-year olds to spend up to a year doing non-profit work abroad. It calls for people of all ages to be eligible to take part. The idea is that this will help "democratize the national democracies in order to rebuild Europe."
Quoting US President John F. Kennedy as he proposed the idea of setting up the voluntary Peace Corps service, the manifesto proclaims: "[Ask not] what Europe can do for you - ask what you can do for Europe - by doing Europe!"
Among the appeal's initial 90 signatories were academics, authors, artists, journalists and politicians from across Europe, including Nobel Literature prize winners Herta Müller and Imre Kertesz, philosopher Jürgen Habermas, London Tate Modern director Chris Dercon and architect Rem Koolhaas.
The project was initiated by sociologist Ulrich Beck and Green politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit.
Author: Nancy Isenson
Editor: Chuck Penfold