EU Youth Goals - we are shapers not listeners!
Young people have a lot to say and are ready to shape the future of Europe. This was demonstrated this week at the EU Youth Conference in Sofia, a 3 day event hosted by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. It brought together around 250 young people and decision-makers including the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Mr. Tibor Navracsics, to engage in dialogue about the future of youth in Europe.
The outcome of the hard work and dedication of conference participants was 11 new EU Youth Goals: young people’s vision for youth policy in Europe. The goals incorporated the ideas and opinions of 49,389 young people across the continent who participated in consultations, debates, discussions and events on the topic “Youth in Europe: What's next?”
The European Youth Forum is very much looking forward to the next steps in working towards the fulfilment of the newly set Youth Goals. Everyone will need to be on board - the institutions, governments and youth organisations to build the Europe that young people have envisioned!
While we are positive about the quality outcome of the conference, we also cannot ignore the lack of meaningful youth representation that occurred during some of the debates and discussions with high-level speakers.
It is unacceptable that at this event, dedicated to amplifying the voices of young people, participants were let down by the many missed opportunities to be fully included. Young people should not be considered as mere spectators but rather equal partners to be listened to.
We were extremely disappointed that during the high-level panels of the conference, young Europeans themselves were not represented. It is clear that young people’s right to be heard on the European stage is something we still need to fight for.
Meaningful participation and dialogue are the main foundations of the Structured Dialogue process and EU Youth Conferences are key to providing this much needed space for open discussion and joint input from youth representatives and decision makers.
We are now in the 6th Cycle of Structured Dialogue and in the light of the upcoming proposal for the next EU Youth Strategy, this is a crucial moment to reflect, be critical and call for improvement and changes. We need to set high standards for how the Structured Dialogue with young people is done, and live up to them on all levels and all stages.
Structured Dialogue - let’s make it better!
To reach the true potential of the Structured Dialogue, we call on all the decision-makers, Ministers and directors-general in charge of youth policy in particular, to ensure meaningful participation of all young people. Youth organisations and young people must be recognised and treated as equal partners.
The European Youth Forum will continue the work with the European Commission, Bulgarian Presidency and upcoming ones, but also with all Member States to ensure that all of the Structured Dialogue events, including the EU Youth Conferences, are inclusive and meaningful places for youth participation, where young people are equally represented both off and on stage.
The next EU Youth Conference will be in Vienna, Austria. Let’s continue to #SpeakUp and raise the voices of young people!