A European Parliament 2019-2024 without an Intergroup on Youth, really?? This seems to be a possible scenario. Help European Youth Forum to make some noise and let your MEP know how disappointing it is for young people across the EU.
Find here a Q&A and how you can help!
Background - Q&A
What is the function of an intergroup?
Intergroups are spaces gathering MEPs to discuss issues that are not directly addressed in committees and legislative files. They therefore create spaces for exchange and debate beyond what is officially foreseen in the European Parliament's organisation.
How is an intergroup formed?´
Intergroups are cross-partisan and need to be approved by the Conference of Presidents (body gathering the chairs of each parliamentary group) based on suggested lists from the political groups of the European Parliament.
Each group can propose a certain number of intergroups based on their 'weight' in the European Parliament. To give a better idea of what this means in reality, see the point system below:
Group of the European People's Party (EPP Group) 21
The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D Group) 18
Renew Europe Group (RE Group) 13
Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA Group) 7+1
Identity and Democracy (ID Group) 8
European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR Group) 7
Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green (GUE/NGL Group) 4
What happened this time?
When the European Elections 2019 were over, the Youth Forum started to work with the newly elected MEPs. Based on past success, commitment of MEPs interested in youth issues and thanks to our advocacy, three groups endorsed the creation of a youth intergroup initially (three groups' signatures were necessary to become an official proposal). These groups are S&D / RE / Greens. There was an agreement to have a bureau of the intergroup that would represent the four main groups, hence including EPP even though their signature was not on the proposal.
The bureau was composed by MEPs as follows: Benifei / Homs (S&D), Hahn / Semedo (RE), Nienass / Boeselager (Greens) and Pereira (EPP).
What went wrong?
To set their priorities for intergroups, each group conducted an internal process to decide what issues would be included on their lists.
S&D & RE included youth on their priority list, however, it was not the case for EPP and Greens.
Therefore, as the support of three groups are needed, the existence of an intergroup for youth is now very much under threat.
The next steps were supposed to be a meeting of the Conference of Presidents that would agree on the final list of intergroups on 12 December.
Why do we need an intergroup on youth?
The issues that young people face cannot be addressed without adopting a holistic youth perspective.
While parliamentary committees such as CULT (committee on culture and education) or EMPL (committee on employment and social affairs) deal with many topics that impact young people’s lives, from youth participation in democratic life and society to funding programmes, it is not enough. The role of the Youth Intergroup is invaluable in providing a space for young people to participate in the debates and decision-making processes of the European Parliament.
In the past mandate, the Youth Intergroup has been extremely successful in fighting for the rights and priorities of young people.
Youth Intergroup achieved great results and provided an effective platform for younger generations across Europe to engage with MEPs and to participate both in legislative and non-legislative processes of the EU. Just a few of the Youth intergroup’s successful actions include:
# Invest In Youth! campaign: it contributed to the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the frontloading of its resources, supported the Child Guarantee, provided a forum for young people to make proposals and indicate priorities for the EU Youth Strategy, fought for the eradication of youth poverty and gained a greater emphasis on inclusion within EU decision-making process.
# Erasmusx10! campaign: the Youth Intergroup actively supported and took action into this campaign, which led to a call to a triplication of the budget for the Erasmus programme in the Parliament's position, to provide more funding for youth organisations and support the inclusion of educational components in the EU funds.
# Fair Internship! campaign: the ultimate success of the campaign is represented by the new rules of the EP for the recruitment of the trainees in their offices: they no longer can be exploited without remuneration - the focus is on adequate reimbursement and on learning components of the traineeships!
There would be so much potential for the Youth Intergroup to strengthen its capacity and to be a platform to exchange views with EU youth organisations and young people. Also bearing in mind that the future of the EU belongs to young people and they should always have their voice heard.
Why should the groups of the European Parliament prioritise youth?
Ahead of the European elections in May 2019, it was made clear that engaging with young people was at the heart of the campaign led by the European Parliament and many European political parties. All major European Political Parties (except EPP) strongly engaged with the Youth Forum and with young audiences through Youth Days on the campaign trail, addressing topics from a youth perspective during the Maastricht Debate and directly appealing to young voters.
Millions of young people, activists or not, took part in dialogues or actions to make their voices heard in the debate. This energy was inspiring.
As a result, we saw an incredible increase in youth turnout, jumping from 28% to 42%. Young people have shown to be the most pro-European generation ever. It would be greatly hypocritical to brag about engaging with youth during the campaign and being proud of an increased youth turnout, and then throw youth issues back in the end of the bus. The European Parliament is about to send this signal to young people that they don't matter. That young people have been used to win votes, and that’s it. The trust in institutions and continuous engagement of youth should be achieved differently. By being an every-day partner and stakeholder for young people.
What can you do?
We need to ensure that youth are high on the agenda - and not just a campaigning tool. An intergroup would be an official space for youth in the European Parliament, and without it, the European Parliament would fail to build on the promises and momentum of the European Elections.
Make some noise and reach out to your local/national MEP.
Ask your MEPs why they didn’t support a Youth Intergroup.
Tell them they can still make a difference before 12 December, asking to revise the decision and put Youth back on the list of Intergroups by bringing it up to their Group President.