Europe’s youth at the heart of the debate at Yo!Fest & Maastricht!

02. 05. 2019

When young people take over political spaces - amazing things happen!

For too long, Europe’s youth have been sidelined in debates, elections and policy-making that impacts us and future generations. This week, on 29 - 30 April, the European Youth Forum was involved in organising two events that aimed to challenge the status-quo and put young people at the top of the European political agenda. #ChangeIsComing!


Back for 2019, the European Youth Forum’s flagship political youth festival Yo!Fest brought thousands of young people to the doorstep of the European Parliament to talk about democracy, activism and the future of Europe. 

Young participants were invited to engage in a diverse programme of free workshops, debates and activities. Ranging from information on how spot false news online and what to do about it, to expert advice on how to harness the power of social media and discussions with policy-makers and civil society representatives on how to make our democratic systems fairer, more accessible and representative. We also were delighted to welcome special guests First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, and Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). 

Group photo with Youth Forum staff and Frans TimmermansAnna Widegren, Carina Autengruber and Karl Heinz-Lambertz

Keeping with the Yo!Fest tradition, the festival ended with an open-air concert featuring music performances from Belgian and international headliners as well as the winner of our emerging bands competition. 

This year the Yo!Fest also helped to kick off European Youth Week, taking place from 29 April to 5 May.

Headliner Dagny performing on stage

The Maastricht Debate

It was a debate with a difference. Monday night’s #MaastrichtDebate, saw five candidates for the top job in the European Commission battle it out to show why their party deserves support in the upcoming 2019 elections. However, far from business as usual, this time, in the biggest most anticipated, pan-European debate in the election campaign so far, the target audience for the party candidates was Europe’s youth.

Not only was the Vrijthof Theatre in Maastricht full with 500 young people but the entire debate was live-streamed online, with the opportunity to vote on who you thought was the most convincing candidate. An audience of more than 210,000 watched online and debate-watching parties also gathered young people together to engage directly from their countries. The European Youth Forum’s open-air debate-watching party filled the Esplanade on the European Parliament with the opportunity to watch the 90 minute debate 2 big screens. The topics of Digital, Sustainable Development and Democracy and the debate questions were also specially selected with input from young Europeans. The European Youth Forum’s President, Carina Autengruber, also addressed the candidates directly from the audience on the issue of climate change, asking how they would integrate young people’s concerns into their policies.

Tweet from Secretary General Anna Widegren asking candidates how they will respond to President Carina's question on climate changeTweet from Maastricht, Working on Europe we have all the candidates ready for the debate!

The European Youth Forum was a co-organiser of the Maastricht Debate, together with the three partners of ‘Maastricht, Working on Europe’; Maastricht University, the City of Maastricht and the Province of Limburg, as well as the European Journalism Centre. 

The Maastricht Debate is still available to watch online. Go to POLITICO Europe’s Youtube channel to access it in English, French and German or watch below!


Need to get in touch?

General phone line: +32 2 793 75 20
fax: +32 2 893 25 80
Rue de l’Industrie, 10
1000 Brussels

More information here.