Statement: Unleashing the potential of Europe's youth

15. 09. 2016

With no youth input or participation to discussions on the future of Europe, European Union leaders are missing an essential point of view as they address the big issues of our time. The European Youth Forum demands that European Leaders, meeting in Bratislava tomorrow for an informal summit, engage with young people in the discussions on the future of Europe. This reflects the call of a number of leaders to formally put youth issues on the agenda of the summit.

The European project, one of freedom, openness, solidarity and cooperation, is supported by a majority of young people. We believe that it is the only viable and sustainable path for European countries’ prosperity.

The European project has a future only if it is a European project by and for its people. Young people want to be part of a Europe with a positive outlook. We face huge challenges that nation states alone cannot solve, including finding a sustainable economic model in the context of an ageing society and rapid technological change. Migration, poverty, peace and security and climate change all demand our common action. For our generation, international cooperation and the European Union symbolise the best hope for positive change. But huge barriers exist for young people in Europe today, holding back our entire societies.

The European Youth Forum, whose members have written to their Heads of State or Government, calls on the European Union and its Members States to address key challenges young people face and invest in quality job creation, ensure youth participation in decision-making, and give the European Union the means to ensure that young people can fulfil their potential.

On Wednesday, the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, announced doubling the investment plan for Europe and a common sense application of the Growth and Stability Pact, so as not to hold back much needed investment in areas that support economic development and job creation. But for this to be a success, we need more concrete steps to make sure investment goes into areas that create quality jobs for young people and support entrepreneurship among young people.

Jean Claude Juncker said that he would not accept Europe being a continent of youth unemployment and that the Youth Guarantee should continue being rolled out. However, if youth unemployment is indeed so unacceptable, why are we seeing an effective cut in its funding for the coming four years? The Youth Guarantee, despite many challenges in its effectiveness, is starting to bear fruit and it would be a strategic mistake to cut it now as it is just about to get young people back into employment.

The Youth Forum therefore now calls on Member States to put Europe back on the right track and give young Europeans the quality jobs we deserve and are necessary for the sustainability of our societies and welfare.

Over the summer, President Tusk has been making calls to establish political control and to build a common future. But when young people are constantly excluded from decisions taken in our name, we have no control. The sad fact is that young people, while being most optimistic generation regarding Europe, are the least trustful of its political leadership and democratic institutions.

Young people are moving alarmingly away from political elites and representative institutions. If Europe’s leaders continue to talk about us, but without us, this trend will continue. The best solutions are created together and Europe’s youth is ready to contribute to the future of Europe.

We call on the political leaders of the European Union to not allow the Bratislava process to become the time when the “lost generation” becomes an inevitable reality. Young Europeans count on you to count on us.

Read the full letter sent by members of the European Youth Forum to their national leaders.

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