Looking back: Young Opinions on the Future of Europe

The Conference on the Future of Europe is nearing its conclusion after over a year of work, with hundreds of thousands of people from all across Europe presenting their vision for what Europe should look like in the future. On May 9th the final proposals of the Conference will be presented and passed on to the major legislative European bodies. The European Youth Parliament and its members also contributed to the Conference. Through the Young Opinions on the Future of Europe project, the Young Ambassadors on the Future of Europe collected thousands of opinions from all across Europe, and presented the findings of this project to key decision makers. Read more about all their hard work below.

Young Opinions on the Future of Europe project

Throughout the project, more than 10 youth events took place in the Spring and Summer 2021 with over a thousand participants across Europe. Among them were international youth events in Milan, Warsaw, and Ljubljana, as well as national events in Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, and many more. Furthermore, the EYP ran a Youth Poll on the Future of Europe where 1,000 young people contributed by sharing their thoughts and visions relating to the continent. Amongst others, the ideas discussed within the framework of EYP’s Power Shifts – Reflecting Europe’s energy project events, as well as those under the umbrella of the Franco-German Youth Conference #Ensemble formed a part of the final vision paper.[/vc_column_text]

The Young Opinions on the Future of Europe project in brief:

Young Ambassadors on the Future of Europe

25 young people from 20 European countries between the ages of 17 and 25 were selected to be Young Ambassadors on the Future of Europe, so as to represent young people and their voices at the EU level. The group of Ambassadors mirrors the EU’s diversity and includes youth with a migratory background, those belonging to minorities in their country, and participants with various educational levels. They have summarised the input collected from young people across the continent in the Youth Vision for the Future of Europe paper focusing on the following issues:

European Values, Fundamental Rights, and Freedom; Europe’s Role in World Affairs; Digitalisation and Digital Transformation of the EU; Employment Opportunities and Conditions in Europe; Social Justice and Equality in Europe; Policy on Energy and Climate; Democracy in the EU and its Member States; Vision for the European Health Union.

The topic that came out as being one of the most important to both the Ambassadors and the many other young people who participated in the process was Energy and Climate. To address these concerns, the Ambassadors developed a separate Youth Vision for Climate and Energy Policy paper.

The Young Ambassadors on the Future of Europe came together in Berlin in September 2021 for the Future of Europe Lab where they formulated the main visions. Also, they joined the European Youth Event in Strasbourg in October 2021 where they advocated for their visions and had the opportunity to interact with decision makers who work in the relevant policy areas.

The video below shows the Young Ambassadors in action in Brussels.

Throughout the 18th and 19th of November 2021 the Young Ambassadors met with the following decision-makers and stakeholders:

Vice President of the European Commission on Democracy and Demography, and co-Chair of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Dubravka Šuica;
Vice President of the European Parliament, Klára Dobrev;
Guy Verhofstadt, co-Chair of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Member of the European Parliament.
Gabriele Bischoff, Member of the European Parliament
Dragoş Pîslaru, Member of the European Parliament
Thomas Waitz, Member of the European Parliament
Alviina Alametsä, Member of the European Parliament
Victor Negrescu, Member of the European Parliament
Biliana Sirakova, EU Youth Coordinator, European Commission;
Stina Soewarta, Adviser to Director for Energy Policy Cristina Lobillo Borrero, DG ENER,
Lawrence Meridith, Director for the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood & Institution Building in the DG NEAR
Helen Campbell, Head Of Division at European External Action Service.

Vice President of the European Commission, Dubravka Šuica had the following to say about the encounter:

I am delighted about this exchange with the Young Ambassadors today. Europe needs the vision, the engagement and the participation of all young people to build a better future. But we also need to give young people real opportunities for the future. Young people are our present and our future. The impressive Youth Vision for the Future of Europe Paper we discussed today is a testimony to the invaluable contributions the young generation can make to our collective policymaking. So let us join forces across generations to build a future that is greener, more digital and more inclusive!

Here are impressions from some of the Young Ambassadors who attended the meeting in Brussels on their opinions on the Young Opinions project and the Youth Vision paper:

Rita Jevdokimova – Latvia

Having worked on different EYP events in the past, this project truly stood out due to the opportunity it offered to directly engage with decision-makers. After compiling a truly progressive vision on the future of Europe, we got a chance to present it in Brussels and urge for more concrete action to be taken. While we didn't change Europe's future in one weekend, it was a positive surprise to exchange ideas with so many like-minded high-level politicians and civil servants. On an individual level, networking in Brussels was very interesting and inspired many of us to look into opportunities for more engagement in the work that EU institutions do. Interacting with the youth should become a priority in decision-making.

Athanasios Theofanakis – Greece/Netherlands

All policy made in Brussels affects all of us, but young Europeans do not affect policy enough. This is why I am happy that so many EU politicians and policy-makers agreed to meet with us, Young Ambassadors, to discuss the role of youth in the Future of Europe. Meeting with EU politicians and policy-makers was an engaging and inspiring experience. I look forward to continuing our conversation and cooperation throughout the European Year of Youth 2022 and beyond.

Aliosha Bielenberg – Cyprus

It was genuinely meaningful and exciting to present our work to Members of the European Parliament and the European Commission last week. I felt like I was not just representing my own views but also conveying something of the many discussions and resolutions I've been involved with across Europe over the past two years. We had substantive conversations on the urgent climate crisis and COP26; the rule of law and democracy in the EU; and the role of young people and NGOs like ours in the political process. I was impressed by the stakeholders we met — not just by their knowledge and passion for the topics we discussed but above all for genuinely making space for bottom-up contributions to the political process. It really feels like democracy in action!
Aliosha Bielenberg

With the Brussels meeting the work of the Young Ambassadors came to a successful end, having passed on the ideas of thousands of Young people so their voice could be heard in the Conference of the Future of Europe

This content is part of the project Young Opinions on the Future of Europe, aimed at engaging young people with the Conference on the Future of Europe and supported by the European Parliament. You can find out more about the Conference on the Future of Europe here and about EYP’s engagement here.