Africa-EU Summit – Strengthening the voices of youth in Africa
As Ministers gathered in Brussels yesterday, 15 May, for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), youth and the role that they have to play in the Africa-EU partnership was high on the agenda.
In view of the upcoming Africa-EU Heads of State Summit in November, which will focus on youth, the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anders Samuelsen, hosted a meeting bringing together 7 young African and European leaders. European Youth Forum Vice-President, Carina Autengruber, was among those in attendance. The group discussed ways to strengthen economic and political opportunities for young people, as well as their expectations for the Africa-EU Summit.
Youth in Africa and in Europe face many joint political challenges, such as exclusion from decision-making processes and a lack of representation and inclusion of young people in traditional political systems. However, young people must be also considered as part of the solution to creating positive change.
During the meeting, young people presented Foreign Ministers with the following solutions that have been identified by youth organisations to increase participation and enhance future cooperation:
- We need meaningful youth participation at all levels and for example at the upcoming Africa-EU Summit. While we appreciate having the focus on youth at this summit, we must be also clear that youth cannot be only used as a buzzword. Cross-sectoral participation throughout the Summit must be guaranteed.
- Furthermore, after creating this unique space at the Africa-EU Summit we need to ensure that it will be followed up by further supporting existing dialogue and concrete cooperation between young people from Africa and Europe.
- We also would like to remind you to walk the talk and implement the promises you signed up to in the following documents: African Youth Charter, the Council of Europe Recommendation on Young Peoples access to rights and the UN Security Council Resolution on Youth, Peace and Security
To ensure young people’s continuous engagement in these processes the 7 participants reminded Foreign Affairs Ministers of the importance to create spaces where youth can develop critical and creative thinking. The Africa-EU Heads of State Summit will be important to leverage the potential of young people but it also must be part of a larger movement of young people and outcomes must also focus on shared opportunities and possibilities for genuine partnership and dialogue between young people from the two continents. The European Youth Forum believes that youth organisations are crucial partners to achieving this.
Photo credit: EEAS