Crisis, high youth unemployment rates, few means of participation – the European youth has been frustrated for quite some time, criticising a lack of opportunities and perspectives for young people within the European Union.
It appears that Europe has listened for once. This weekend the European Parliament has made a first step into the direction of tackling this issue by organising the European Youth Event, in short, EYE 2014. Originally aimed at gathering several hundred young people from all over the European Union, the demand soon exceeded all expectations. Eventually, the event hosted 5000 young adults interested in an intellectual and intercultural exchange about Europe. The program could not have been more diverse, offering exhibitions, workshops and debates focussing on topics like European values, youth unemployment, digital revolution, sustainability and the future of the European Union. Located in and around the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the event embodied a platform for exchange between European students and young professionals on the one hand and MEPs, technical experts, lobbyists and representatives of NGOs on the other hand.
Finish member of the European Youth Forum: “I always hear that the youth is the future. But we are living now. Our ideas should be considered today instead of postponing them to tomorrow.”
Expertise was not only provided by experts from Brussels but also from various youth organisations which organised stands and workshops to communicate their ideas for Europe in very innovate ways. Europeers, a network of former European volunteers promoting European mobility programs, did not miss its chance to be part of this pilot project, either. The group of 10 enthusiastic euro fans both participated and offered workshops. The key message was to collaborate internationally in promoting European values so that more people appreciate the many opportunities the European Union provides. The two workshops were well frequented and engendered great impulses for a further expansion of the network and its activities.
Francois Brunagel, Head of the Protocol Unit, EP: “My grandparents, who were from Alsace, changed their nationality 4 times during their lives. Then, nobody would learn the language of the neighbouring states. Embrace the chances you are offered today and learn English, it’s the language of hope.”
Regardless of how successful the EYE 2014 was, we need to keep in mind that this can and should only be the beginning of a greater involvement of European youths in the European policy making process. Young people are those who have to live in tomorrow’s Europe, which is being shaped today. It is thus of major importance to listen to them and their ideas already now, not only in the future. Their ideas may be visionary and idealistic at times but isn’t hope and vision what enabled the creation of the European Union in the first place? Wasn’t a dream for a continent free of war the origin of today’s Economic and Monetary Union?
Joel A. Barker once said: “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”
This article originally appeared on http://europa-fundstueck.blogspot.de/