SOTEU 2018 - the youth reaction
President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, delivered his final State of the European Union speech today. While the speech was wide-ranging and covered many topics, we regret that the concrete long-term element was missing, resulting in a speech that was ultimately quite vague.
Young people in Europe demand and need long-term policy-making so that they can plan for their future. Here’s our reaction to some of the issues addressed by President Juncker.
A Sustainable Europe
The growing threat of climate change and its effects are becoming ever more visible. Although mentioned in his speech, President Juncker, failed to stress strongly enough the need for European leadership and action. Sustainable Development must be the overarching framework for all actions that Europe takes, and Europe needs to stand up next year at the High Level Political Forum at the UN and explain how Europe is contributing to this global change that young people are so demanding.
Next year the EU elects, but will young people be represented?
President Juncker’s wish for 2019 to be a “landmark year for democracy”, can only become a reality if opportunities to participate and be represented are open to all citizens. The European Parliament elections must remove all barriers for youth engagement. It is crucial that political parties include a youth perspective and involve them throughout the process to gain better insight into the challenges young people face, and to identify fresh and effective policy solutions.
Youth unemployment: an investment in young people
President Juncker pointed out that youth unemployment is at its lowest point ever in Europe. At 14.8%, double the overall unemployment rate, this amount is still much too high. We cannot continue to celebrate such high unemployment rates while ignoring the precarious situation for far too many young people across the continent. Further investment in young people, such as higher earmarking to tackle ESF+ in the next Multiannual Financial Framework, must be a priority. Furthermore, putting the focus only on figures and percentages is not enough. Young people also must be able to access their right to a quality job that provides stability and good working conditions.
The joint African-European future
Finally, we welcome the newly announced Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs between Europe and Africa. The European Youth Forum was last November one of the main organising partners of the AU-EU Youth Summit, in advance of the AU-EU Heads of State Summit. The conclusion of that Youth Summit, the Abidjan Declaration, should be one of the key guides when establishing this alliance, to ensure that a long-term and sustainable partnership between the two continents is assured.
Did you miss President Juncker's first ever Snapchat story yesterday? Check out our exclusive here!