Daniel Johnson, Goran Jutrisa and Nina Selmer: EYP Alumni in Politics and Diplomacy

We had the amazing opportunity to get in touch with three EYP Alumni and ask them about their work and their time with EYP. Here’s what Daniel Johnson (UK), Member of the Scottish Parliament for Edinburgh Southern for the Labour Party, Goran Jutrisa (HR), Deputy Advisor to the Prime Minister of Croatia and Nina Selmer (NO), Adviser to the European Union’s Delegation to Norway said:

Why did you choose to take public office and what is your mission?  

Daniel: It certainly wasn’t my mission, I have spent most of my career in business but an inability to say ‘no’ resulted in my standing in 2016 and being elected. Ultimately my reason for standing is I hate seeing things that don’t work properly and my view of politics is that it should be finding solutions and building consensus around them- not that that has been happening much in British politics recently!

How is it working in the public service?  

Goran: The experience is great because you can work with your network of contacts and really contribute to achieving the goals you have set. You have a feeling of doing good and important things for your country. I am grateful because I work in the field I am passionate about and studied for, and it builds on my experience with EYP, international law and foreign policy. I am grateful to have the opportunity to use the fruits of all my experience.

Nina: Having worked both as a trainee at the Norwegian embassy in the Hague, and now as an adviser to the EU, I have been given a great opportunity to see how diplomatic relationships work both on a bilateral level and from the perspective of the EU. In a world that often can seem defined by deteriorating diplomatic relationships, increasing isolationism and putting own interests first, it has been refreshing to work with people who are dedicated to further the idea of how working together is beneficial for all parties, and how learning from each other help us grow.

If there were things from EYP that you could bring to real-world international relations what would it be? 

Daniel:  EYP has much in common with real-world politics, but the one thing it has in spades is a sense of optimism and a focus on bringing people together. These can all too often be absent form our politics tomorrow.

Goran: People. The fundaments of whatever you do is knowing the right people and having a connection with them. EYP taught me to stop thinking of countries as countries – countries became people. I got to know what they think, what they feel, how they behave and how they smile. Behind all the ministries, departments and offices it’s about the people and how you engage and get them to trust you. EYP teaches you to trust others and get others to trust you.

I have used a lot of my EYP contacts and network in all my previous jobs in the last 5 or 10 years. Even when I spoke to the Prime Minister, we remembered we ran into each other 16 years ago in EYP events. Involvement with EYP shows that you are an active citizen, open minded, open to discussion, foreign affairs, communicative – it gives you a stamp of approval as I call it. You have a certain set of values that are appreciated and welcomed in certain things.

Nina: Seeing how youth from 40 different countries across Europe are able to come together and find solutions, always writing resolutions showcasing good and innovative ideas to complex questions is something world leaders and policymakers could learn from. Compromise gets you far, and EYP taught me that my listening and developing my ideas they could only become better, and that learning from each other makes everyone more enlightened.

What should Europe mean to youth in 2040? 

Daniel: I don’t think young people should wait for 2040- politics is relevant to them now. My message is if you believe in Europe get involved, get campaigning and make the arguments for Europe to people now. My reflection on the standing of Europe in my country now is that if more people in Britain had been making a positive case for Europe twenty years ago, we would not be facing Brexit.

Goran: It should mean a sense of belonging, a feeling of additional identity, which is defined by a common set of values as well as approach to things – a certain mentality. A certain mindset, which means all kinds of things from freedom to meeting people to doing business and travelling.

Nina: I hope that Europe in 2040 is a place where youth feel hopeful, inspired and at home. I hope that that is the case both for youth who have only just arrived in Europe, and youth who have had Europe as their home since birth, and for youth who might not always feel like they fit into the Europe of 2019. I also hope that Europe in 2040 is still a place where thousands of youth get to experience EYP every year, and be able to develop skills and confidence through the organisation, just as I was able to.

EYP has always been a home to me, and a place where I have been able to develop leadership skills, broaden my understanding of the world and meet people I otherwise wouldn’t have been lucky enough to meet. I hope EYP continues to be a place where youth can experience this, and want to thank all the wonderful people who help keep the organisation strong and kind.