EU Youth Conference quote: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, let’s go together”. So, “lost generation” as they call you, have your say!!!! Your reporters give you an insight from the heart of the conference.
So many people, so many youth delegates laughing, debating, talking, thinking, kindly arguing, walking around during this four days conference. Such a great energy and strong will to put the finishing touches on the Joint Recommendations agreed in Riga. The final recommendations drawn in Luxembourg on the “Empowerment of Young People for Political Participation” are divided into 8 main sections:Create a culture of participation at school Involving young people in political decision-making Enhancing policy maker’s engagement and commitment with young people Strengthening the role of youth work for political empowerment of all young people Developing youth friendly tools for political participation Developing local and direct democracy Promoting political participation through alternative forms (e.g. arts and sports) Increasing synergies and cooperation between different actors
Needless to say that your national representatives made a point of defining a strategy to implement the above mentioned recommendations, both at the local and national levels. Throughout the workshops and debates, youth delegates have been asked to think about how to increase the participation rate among the young population. Unfortunately, this is a trend observable all over Europe. However, young people do not participate because they do not want to, but rather because they do not trust their political leaders or because they feel rejected from the decision-making process, or even because they encounter difficulties to access political information. Another fact that has been raised is the social exclusion faced by the European youth.
In order to increase the political participation among the youth, meaning among you, you must benefit from full social inclusion. It means that you must be aware that as an individual or as group, your voice can be heard.
In this globalized era, the world has become a village. For example, you have noticed that what happened in Syria directly impacted society groups, governments, citizen, etc. all over the globe. On the old continent, the population is ageing, and the so-called “lost generation” (yes, this term refers to you dear friends) represents the biggest share of population.
As you are more connected, more educated, more involved and more sensitive to society’s issues, you are in the best position to propose a new perspective and appropriate solutions to worldwide issues. To do that, you must in one way or another invest yourselves into the democratic life. Democracy is a very wide spectrum where each one of you can find its happiness and through which political participation can be performed in various ways. For instance the structured dialogue initiated in 2009 at the EU level, or national youth platforms.
As we are living in a digital society, means of participation will also have to adapt to this 3.0 world. Your youth delegates have created a practical toolbox to support member states in the implementation of the joint recommendations. The implementation toolbox includes:Implementing pilot projects at local level for lowering the voting age to 16 years old Fostering a culture of participation at school through, for example, citizenship education in school curricula Developing youth friendly tools for political participation Encouraging an open and inclusive political culture through policy makers at all levels using youth-friendly communication Establishing initiatives and long-term partnerships with youth workers and NGOs in order to transfer knowledge and develop young people’s political participation.
If young people have to take their future into their own hands, they must be provided with the appropriate tools to work in close collaboration with policy makers, leaders and youth organizations at all levels.
In this regards, formal and non-formal education are recognized as fundamental for citizenship, in all its various aspects. You will be more than delighted to know that mobility programmes have been praised for their roles in terms of personal development, social competences, hard skills and intercultural competences. Several key participants, high profile EU commissioners and ministers have strongly encouraged to increase the budget allocated to mobility programmes.
Your reporting team is a perfect example of EU mobility and democratic participation; German and Belgian nationals, educated in Germany, Spain, the UK, Holland and Luxembourg, we are both involved in democratic participation, mostly at the local level. I cannot tell you how proud I was to represent Eurodesk, as being the number 1 information network supporting youth actions. Above all, I was proud to see and to hear that all your representatives have somehow been part of a EU mobility programme, whether educational, volunteering or professional.
In the opinion of many participants, Luxembourg is a model of youth participation. The Luxembourgish Youth Parliament constitutes a living example of how young people can make a difference in youth related policies. Moreover, the (at least) trilingual feature of Luxembourgish young citizens is seen as the Holy Grail when it comes to cultural and citizen openness. The equivalent organisation at the EU level is the European Youth Parliament (EYP), one of the most dynamic youth organisations in Europe, currently represented in 41 countries.
As newcomers in the Grand Duchy, your humble servants have been impressed by such cultural diversity in such a small country and by the overall organisation of the EUYC in Luxembourg. Your European neighbours could benefit from your expertise regarding youth empowerment for political participation.
So you know what to do now: strengthen your citizenship through European mobility and share your best practices, to move from “lost generation” to future generation. Young people, it is time to jump in!!
Visit the EU Youth Conference Facebook page for more in-depth info on the workshop themes and attendant experts, for more videos, feedbacks, etc.