On June 3-6, some 200 young people from 35 European countries gathered in Brussels for the third European youth week to voice their visions for the future of Europe and have their say in the policies directly affecting their lives. This event promotes youth programmes and policies and invites active dialogue between policy makers and young people. The central themes this year were social inclusion and diversity.
Burning issues included welcoming all students from non-EU countries without requiring visas or extra fees, having a single EU representative on the Security Council of the United Nations and giving the vote to 16-year-olds in time for the 2009 European parliament elections.
The conclusions of the week's rich discussions contain policy recommendations which the EU representatives have promised to take on board. Some will go directly into the political pipeline. Most are related to youth policy – one example being to set up youth information centres in all EU countries to cover topics of direct relevance to young people, like bullying, sexual health, drug abuse, domestic violence and unemployment.
Young people play a very important role and should continue to take active part in the political process, emphasised youth commissioner Ján Figel’.
“You don’t need more declarations, you need action”, said the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Lissy Groner, encouraging young people to get their local MEPs to put these conclusions high on their country’s national political agenda.