Statement from the European Youth Forum on the Future of Yo!Fest
Over the past eleven years, the European Youth Forum and our members have seen Yo!Fest grow from a small one-day event in Brussels for 100 participants to an internationally recognised event, attracting over 10,000 young people at its peak.
In its relatively short history, Yo!Fest has been central to many seminal moments in European youth policy. In 2010 we launched our campaign for the inclusion of youth in the Structured Dialogue, ultimately being successful in 2014. In 2011, the draft Charter on the Rights of Volunteers was signed by leaders of the European Parliament. And, in 2013, we launched the League of Young Voters from Yo!Fest.
European institutions started to realise the impact that events, such as Yo!Fest, could have on mobilising young people around Europe. In 2014 Yo!Fest had its biggest achievement to date, ultimately inspiring the European Parliament to create one of Europe’s biggest and well respected youth-political festivals– the European Youth Event (EYE).
For the past six years, the European Youth Forum has worked closely with the European Parliament in shaping the EYE into the event it is today. We have worked alongside the European Parliament to ensure the EYE goes from strength-to-strength with every edition.
Yo!Fest has been a core element of every edition of the EYE. Providing a space for youth organisations to showcase their work and non-formal spaces for young people to come together to discuss, debate, learn and celebrate. All the while ensuring that a big part of the European Youth Event was organised and led by young people.
Yo!Fest was scheduled to return to the EYE in 2020, but, unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the postponement, not cancellation, of the event. However, we have recently learned that the European Parliament has sadly taken the decision to terminate our agreement and progress with planning the EYE for the first time, crucially, without a Yo!Fest. This is obviously deeply sad news for the Youth Forum, our membership, and the individuals who have been committed to this project for many years.
We would like to thank all the many organisations that helped us over the years in creating one of the Youth Forum’s most far reaching projects. Throughout the history of Yo!Fest we have worked with over 500 incredible youth organisations from both within and outside of our membership. The commitment and experience of these organisations has helped make Yo!Fest what it is today and without your support, the many years of success we have achieved with Yo!Fest would not have been possible.
However, this is not the end of the road for Yo!Fest. With Yo!Fest no longer forming a part of the EYE, we are afforded the opportunity to take stock and look forward to what form Yo!Fest takes in the future. The history of Yo!Fest and all it has achieved clearly shows there is still huge potential for the project to have a big impact on shaping the discussion around youth issues in Europe.
That is why we will soon be launching a consultation with our membership to gather your views on what you think the future of Yo!Fest should be.
We stand ready and willing to continue to work with the European Parliament to ensure that the EYE 2021 is a success. As a platform, we will continue to work towards ensuring that young people retain a voice on all projects aimed at young people and hope that the European Parliament builds a suitable structure to ensure that, in future editions, the EYE is youth led.
We are happy to have played our part in helping create this incredible event and are very proud of the impact the Youth Forum and our membership has had on the legacy of the European Youth Event. We wish the EYE every success in the future and hope it continues to go from strength-to-strength by providing meaningful opportunities for young people and youth organisations to engage with the democratic process.