Today, 100 young people from across Europe are presenting their concrete ideas on how to give Europe a bright future, following discussions in the context of the New Narrative for Europe initiative. These recommendations come alongside the results of a new Eurobarometer survey, which shows that youth participation in voluntary activities, organisations and elections has increased over the past years.
The closing event of the New Narrative for Europe initiative, taking place in Brussels today, brings together the results of discussions young people held over the last two years. The project reached as many as 62,000 young people through a series of debates taking place Europe-wide. As a result, young people put forward twelve concrete ideas for Europe's future.
Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said, "Seeing young people so engaged, and hearing their refreshing ideas fills me with optimism about Europe's future. I will study the recommendations from the New Narrative for Europe with utmost attention. But this is not the end of the process – young people must be at the heart of the debate on the future of Europe, and that is why I would like these reflections to continue."
The ideas presented today were tested in a recent Eurobarometer to check their resonance with a broader group of young people. The survey, which consulted about 11,000 citizens aged 15 to 30 in September 2017shows that they mostly agree with the need to:
- Promote critical thinking and the ability to search for information to combat fake news and extremism (49%);
- Give easy access to information about moving and working abroad (49%);
- Promote behavioural change through environmentally-friendly initiatives such as sustainable transport or recycling systems across Europe (40%).
Other main findings of the Eurobarometer include:
- More than half of young Europeans consider education and skills as the top priority that the EU should tackle. Environmental protection and fighting climate change come second, followed by employment, and the management of migratory flows and integration of refugees;
- Young people have been more active than in the previous survey done in December 2014. 31% of respondents stated that they had been involved in organised voluntary activities in the last 12 months;
- More than half are involved in organisations such as sports clubs, youth clubs or local NGOs;
- In particular, 64% of the respondents say that they have voted in a political election in the last 3 years.
With the debate on the future of Europe in full swing, education and youth have been high up on the political agenda of the EU. Heads of State and Government discussed the future of education, culture and youth at the Gothenburg Social Summit on 17 November 2017. This resulted in the European Council conclusions of 14 December 2017 calling on Member States, the Council and the Commission to take the agenda discussed in Gothenburg forward. Recommendations put forward today will feed into the future work of the Commission on education, culture and youth policies.
The New Narrative for Europe ran for over five years, having begun as a Pilot Project and continued as a Preparatory Action, both supported by the European Parliament. In 2013-2014 the Pilot Project gave a voice to the artistic, cultural, scientific and intellectual communities, so as to help connect the general public with the European integration project via the arts and sciences. From 2015 onwards, it focused on involving young people from diverse backgrounds. To keep supporting discussions across Europe and as a concrete result of the project, the European Commission will capture all the ideas, written and audio-visual materials produced by young people in an online toolkit. The toolkit will be available in the EU's 24 official languages and will be accompanied with guidance on how to moderate the discussion.
The EU has a number of tools in place to encourage youth participation in society and democratic life: the Erasmus+ programme and the European Solidarity Corps are just two examples of powerful instruments to bring young people together and encourage them to have their say, promote mutual understanding and share common European values. The EU Youth Strategy also has a strong focus on participation, with the structured dialogue process that involves young people in exchanges and consultations all over Europe. The European Commission will table its proposals for a new EU Youth Strategy in spring 2018, with a view to reaching out to a larger, more diverse group of young people.
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