European Commission – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.11 For the first time in history: AEGEE Agora in Chisinau, Moldova /for-the-first-time-in-history-aegee-agora-in-chisinau-moldova/ Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:49:36 +0000 /?p=6885 The AEGEE Agora is the space to inspire the new generation of our members and to reconnect more experienced ones. A 5-days event filled with knowledge and cultural exchange put into practice, with over 700 people travelling to Chisinau, Moldova between 11-16th October.

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In times, when all European eyes are questioning the ideological and political nature of the European project and the discourses are focusing largely on internal matters of the EU and Brexit; AEGEE travelled outside the European Union to hold the general assembly and to discover the local reality of Moldova, a frontrunner of the EU Eastern Partnership programme.

The general assembly started on the 11th October with the ‘Perspectives and Prospects: from Eastern Partnership to EU’ Youth Conference. The event received the support of the New Narratives for Europe project of the European Commission, enabling the participants of the event to reflect on the European dimension of local discourses and exchanges. The youth of Moldova feels belonging to Europe and are wishful towards the future cooperation possibilities with other European countries.

Session about Eastern Partnership - led by AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project!

Session about Eastern Partnership – led by AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project!

Besides the general assembly of the organisation, the participants of the AEGEE Agora also got a chance to gain insight into the current social and political situation of Moldova. With the upcoming presidential elections at the end of October, with a divided society caught between pro-Russian and pro-European sentiments, with extreme rate of poverty and unmeployment, and the country’s concerning future prospects, the youth of Moldova is facing challenging times ahead.

The international participants also had the chance to reflect more on a local context very different from their own and this also supported the thematic discussions within AEGEE. Among many items on the agenda of the general assembly, the future thematic focuses of the organisations have also been defined for the next three years.

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Session with guest speaker: board member of the European Youth Forum

Between 2017-2020, AEGEE is going to work towards a better Europe by building capacity and active engagement of her members in the following focus area topics:

  • Equal Rights
  • Civic Education
  • Youth Development
  • European Citizenship

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The Agora is a space for learning – as it has always been. From procedural motions and plenary requirements, from sideroom discussions to long evening talks about the future of Europe, from practicing direct democracy and the excitement of voting and elections, the AEGEE Agora has once again brought hundreds of Europeans together for one unforgettable event that will aspire them to be active European citizens.

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Thank you AEGEE-Chisinau

for the unforgettable experience and for welcoming all of us in your home!

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You can find more coverage of the AEGEE Agora in Moldova under the following links:

http://moldpres.md/news/2016/10/11/16008079

http://sfm.md/2016/autumn-agora-chisinau-2016-everybody-in-the-casa-mare/

http://diez.md/2016/09/28/chisinaul-va-gazdui-cel-mai-important-eveniment-al-asociatiei-studentilor-europeni-iata-cand-va-avea-loc/

http://diez.md/2016/10/10/recomandari-de-evenimente-pentru-ziua-de-marti-11-octombrie/

http://diez.md/2016/10/13/foto-aegee-chisinau-organizat-un-eveniment-pentru-tineri-si-50-de-voluntari-din-mai-multe-tari-europene/

http://trm.md/en/social/tineri-din-peste-40-de-tari-se-vor-intalni-la-chi-sinau-in-cadrul-unei-conferin-te/

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Education and Youth are not a ‘small thing’ /education-not-a-small-thing/ Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:57:50 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1108 Today the European Commission’s president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker announced his “winning team”, a commission in which portfolios are given “to people, not to countries”. AEGEE / European Students’ Forum sees some good developments in the attention given to Citizenship, Mobility and Employment, but has concerns about Education being overshadowed,the total absence of mentioning Non-Formal Education for skills development and employment and the gender composition of the team.

Education portfolio still pressured

As a stakeholder in the fields of Youth, Students and Education, AEGEE-Europe welcomes the establishment of the portfolio on Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship; particularly after the previous information published at the end of last week by EurActiv (link) on the lack of education portfolio in the new European Commission. However, we would still like to emphasise the importance of Education. With Juncker claiming that he wants the Commission “to be bigger on big things and modest on small things”, we urge that education should not be considered a ‘small thing’ in a Union that depends on knowledge-dependant end-products and in which access to education is stagnating [1].

Combining citizenship into the same portfolio could be a good decision, as it paves the way for better civic education for which we see a great need in Europe. Reaching out to Erasmus+ and ‘Europe for Citizens‘ beneficiaries as a means to strengthen EU understanding, as is mentioned in the mission letter (link) to Tibor Navracsics, is highly welcomed. However, we urge that the focus of citizenship should not only be part of education, and mentioned beneficiaries should not be the only vehicle, but the work on citizenship should also encompass the inclusion of all citizens in the decision-making processes and consultations, including, but not limited to, improving the European Citizens’ Initiatives and facilitating pan-European media attention on European issues.

Juncker and Navracsics. Source: Google

Unemployment tackled, mobility boosted, non-formal education ignored Mr. Juncker has prominently highlighted jobs as one of his top priorities, recognizing that the crisis has taken its toll on employment, leaving more than 6 million people without work. In his mission letter to Marianne Thyssen (link) he acknowledges that “unemployment has reached unacceptably high levels in many parts of Europe, particularly among Europe’s youth”. To remedy this situation, he proposes to present a jobs, growth and investment package within the first three months of the Commission’s term, emphasizing the importance of funding towards projects that can help youth get back to work in decent jobs, as well as accelerating and broadening the implementation of the Youth Guarantee Scheme.

As youth employment is one of AEGEE’s priorities in the upcoming years as well, we are happy to see Mr. Juncker recognizing it as an issue to be dealt with. As a measure to fight unemployment we also welcome labour mobility as an own policy field of Commissioner Marianne Thyssen. In order to deepen the European integration it is essential to promote free movement of workers, and AEGEE-Europe sees access to mobility as one of the fundamental rights of all residents on the European continent (link). One of the key issues in order to achieve labour mobility is the mutual recognition of qualifications. Therefore we strongly support that qualifications obtained in different countries have to be recognised for all European citizens.

In the context of employment, AEGEE would like also like to see an emphasis on recognition and validation of non-formal education, especially when it comes to youth. As a youth NGO and a provider of non-formal education, we believe that non-formal education plays a crucial role in helping young people develop a variety of skills useful and relevant in a wide range of workplaces. Working to get non-formal education recognised is now not explicitly mentioned at all in the mission letters to Mr. Navracsics and Ms. Thyssen.

Furthermore, we hope that the Commission will seek out to engage citizens in improving the current situation regarding youth unemployment. Youth organisations provide young people with skills and competences that help in preparing them for the labour market. Therefore, our opinion is that youth organizations could bring added value in fighting youth unemployment, and should be consulted and involved in this matter.

Gender Balance

AEGEE-Europe is pleased to see that three out of seven Vice-President positions were given to female representatives. This is definitely a good step in the direction of achieving gender balance. However, we still hold the opinion that nine female Commissioners, compared to 19 male ones, is far from equality, and it is not a progress compared to the composition of the Commission of José Manuel Barroso. Given the fact that women constitute over a half of the 507 million population of the European Union (104.8 women per 100 men; Eurostat, 2013) and 60% of tertiary education graduates (Eurostat, 2013), we find it astonishing that EU Member States did not manage to find more female candidates for the position of Commissioners. Representation of women in the Commission. Source: European Commission

If there were truly equal opportunities, the probability of having more than 9 female Commissioners would be more than 95%. However, at the same time, we appreciate the efforts of Jean-Claude Juncker calling for more women representatives in the EC in the previous months and the inclusion of the gender equality portfolio in the DG Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. Despite the mentioned concerns, AEGEE-Europe sees potential in the change Mr. Juncker wants to make, and hope to see a positive effect. We wish for a fruitful cooperation with Commissioner Tibor Navracsics of Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship and Marianne Thyssen of Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility. Lastly, we look forward to the efforts of the Commissioner Vera Jourová in taking measures to achieve gender equality.

[1] http://euobserver.com/news/125536

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NGOs should be further involved on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee /ngos-should-be-further-involved-on-the-implementation-of-the-youth-guarantee/ /ngos-should-be-further-involved-on-the-implementation-of-the-youth-guarantee/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:25:18 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1032 Last week, AEGEE attended the conference “Youth Guarantee: Making It Happen” organised by the European Commission in Brussels. Both Miguel Gallardo (member of the board of AEGEE-Europe) and Mathieu Savary (from the Youth (un)Employment project) participated in the conference, and also on the preparatory meeting “Youth Employment: what next?” organised by the European Youth Forum and the Youth Intergroup of the European Parliament the day before.

The conference consisted in a series or panels with key note speakers from the different stakeholders involved on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee: member states and its employment services, regional and local governments, companies, trade unions and the youth sector. We could get updated information on which stage the different member states are now, and what are some of the challenges they are facing.

José Manuel Barroso, at the podium, and László Andor, on the right

AEGEE-Europe is happy to see that the Member States are working hard to implement this innovative approach to reduce the impact of the crisis on Youth Employment as soon as possible. However, if only an ambitious plan is essential to tackle effectively youht unemployment, this conference has shown that we are still far from a fully-fledged and successful implementation of the Youth Guarantee:

 

  • There are still some countries who did not submit the Implementation Plans to the European Commission yet;
  • The money made available from the European Union, through the European Social Fund, is not enough to put into practice an effective Youth Guarantee. Member States should cover the rest without any delay, since the ILO study proved that the costs of inactivity will be higher than the amount to be invested;
  • In most countries, the involvement of the youth sector in the development of the implementation plans has been very limited, and in many cases inexistent. This contradicts the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee, which explicitly mentioned that Member States should “ensure the consultation or involvement of young people and/or youth organisations in designing and further developing the Youth Guarantee scheme”.
  • We encourage all countries to extend the age range of potential beneficiaries to 30 years, to reflect the reality of society and include in the Youth Guarantee those young Europeans who finish their studies in their late twenties.

We believe the Youth Guarantee has a big potential to contribute to the solution of the Youth Unemployment crisis in Europe, but the success of this initiative will depend much on the ownership the Member States take from it. It should not stay a European initiative, but countries and regions have to invest on it and include all actors on the process. The youth sector, through the National Youth Councils and other big youth platforms, can contribute with ideas in development, monitoring and evaluation of the whole scheme, and in the outreach to NEETs (not in education, employment and training), mostly young people far away from the labour market who represent a priority target group of the policy scheme. Overall, NGOs can play a decisive role as a possible placement to put into practice the knowledge acquired through formal education, or gain new skills through methods of non-formal education.

Written by Mathieu Savary, Youth (un)Employment project, and Miguel Gallardo, Project Director of AEGEE-Europe.

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Choosing a leader for your EP2014 Campaign /choosing-leader-european-parliament-campaign-ep2014/ Fri, 24 Jan 2014 09:29:42 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=886 The political family in Europe has a wide variety of colours, representing the diversity of our continent also at the level of the ideas. In the European Parliament there are seats for hosting all the options of the political arc; and under the roof of the plenary room, eurosceptics exchange ideas with pro-Europeans, nationalists debate with federalists, and different political groups ally themselves to approve their proposals since no group has a majority to do it on their own.

As a consequence of the Lisbon Treaty, and following the recommendation of the European Parliament known as the Duff Report, in 2014 many political groups will campaign with a visible figure on the European level, which represents their candidate for the position of President of the European Commission. This is a great innovation that AEGEE and the Y Vote 2014 project welcome enthusiastically. We believe it will have a very positive effect in both keeping the focus of the campaign on European issues; at the same time it can be a decisive factor to increase participation in the elections by increasing the relevance of this election process on the eyes of citizens. This idea, however, has faced criticism from relevant politicians such as Herman Van Rompuy, European Council President, and Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany.

It is interesting to see how, facing such a new situation inside the political groups, each one of them adopted a different approach. We present you with a brief analysis of the methods used by the five groups which have announced they will have a candidate for the position of President of the EC .

The first announcement of a frontrunner came from the Party of the European Socialists. From the very beginning, Martin Schulz (president of the European Parliament) never hid his intention to become the candidate of all the European social-democrats. Even when Schulz had promoted the idea of having primary elections to elect the socialist candidate, nobody else among the socialist ranks postulated a candidature; therefore, as early as Schulz was chosen on the 6th of November, he unofficially continued with his campaign.

 

A similar situation happened within the Party of the European Left. At their congress of December in Madrid, they approved the only candidature of Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Syriza party in Greece. He had been proposed by their Council of chairpersons in October and he got more than 80% of the votes. The European Left opted to present a candidate for President of the Commission not because they believe this new system will bring more democracy to the Union, but because they did not want to leave the monopoly of speaking to their rival parties.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe party faced a dilemma, with current commissioner Olli Rehn competing for the leading position on one side, and the former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt on the other. Some analysts feared that the tension between these two figures, which represent two different trends inside the Liberal family (Rehn representing the more pro-austerity sector, and Verhofstadt the more pro-European), could break the liberals in two factions. The mediation of Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, and Christian Lindner, the leader of the German FDP, ended up in an agreement that places Guy Verhofstadt as the Liberal candidate for Commission Presidency, and reserves another big position, related with economic of foreign affairs, for Olli Rehn.

Among the christian-democrats of the European People’s Party, the situation is still far from being clear. The decision will be taken in Dublin during their congress on 6-7 March. Until then, negotiations will take place internally and they promise to be arduous. Already in December there were “at least 6 interested people”, according to Joseph Daul, the EPP president. The names of the interested people are not officially announced, but once Barroso seems to be discarded, the rumours signal to Jean-Claude Juncker (former prime minister of Luxembourg, with a clear opposition of the CDU of Angela Merkel), Jyrki Katainen (Prime Minister of Finland), and Fredrik Reinfeldt (Prime Minister of Sweden), as the ones with bigger possibilities. Other names on the rumours are Latvian ex-PM is on that list- Valdis Dombrovskis, Lithuania’s President and winner of the Charlemagne prize in 2013 Dalia Grybauskait?, Commissioners Vivianne Reading and Michel Barnier, or the IMF president Christine Lagarde. But  we should not discard the option of a surprise candidate as a result of a consensus decision, and it’s very likely that nothing will be known until the group announces it in Dublin. Until then, you can guess at the poll organised by Europe Decides, an initiative to help Europeans follow all the changes to happen in 2014.

The European Green Party, on their side, have launched a pioneering process of primary elections open to all Europeans. They have an online voting system where anyone (it is not necessary to be member of a Green party to participate) can choose up to two candidates for the position of President of the Commission. Every EU resident who is 16 or older can vote at the website www.greenprimary.eu until 28 January 2014 at 18:00. On the website you can also find the profiles of the four candidates: José Bové, the famous activist, with a profile oriented to the rural world; Monica Frassoni, co-Chair of the European Green Party, with a more Europeanist profile; Rebecca Harms, anti-nuclear militant with a wide experience in the EP; and Ska Keller, from FYEG (Federation of Young European Greens) and with a more social agenda.

It would be relevant to analyse if the method chosen to select their candidate had any impact in the election results that each political option will achieve, although it will also depend vastly on the resources they invest and in the attention that the national media pay to their messages. In any case, AEGEE welcomes the initiative of these political groups to readily follow the guidelines marked in the Lisbon Treaty, since these change brings us closer to the so-much wanted (but still so far away) scenario of real transnational European Elections with pan-European lists. We encourage the remaining political groups to follow the lead and select, according to their own favourite methodology, a visible head for the campaign. That person would be able to represent their views on equal conditions on the European level, and participate on the discussions about the relevant European topics of the campaign. This will be necessary if we want to avoid the risk of getting entangled in national debates. Moreover, this will make easier for the regular citizens to understand the implications of casting a vote and to make a choice, bringing Europe closer to them.

You can read more about the Y Vote 2014 campaign in our website.

 

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Health4Youth Project welcomes the Public Health Committee new directive on tobacco /health4youth-tobacco-directive/ Tue, 27 Aug 2013 15:29:20 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=704 Health4Youth project of AEGEE-Europe welcomes the directive presented by the Public Health Committee  on 11th of July 2013, against slim and flavoured cigarettes [1].

H4Y would like to emphasize the significance of this measure. In our daily work, we notice that many students experiment with slim and flavoured cigarettes, also because of the way they look and taste: this makes many young people think they are harmless. However, as research has shown [2], smoking slim and flavoured cigarettes is often a first step towards smoking real cigarettes and towards various degrees of addiction. It is of great importance that this measure is implemented EU-wide. If countries would deal separately with this matter, the positive effects would be much weaker. Countries that would not enforce this type of directive would become attractive destinations for buyers from neighbouring countries, something favoured by the high mobility of the European students nowadays, which is something AEGEE-Europe very much supports.

Health4Youth is a project group launched by the European student association AEGEE. It aims to encourage a healthy lifestyle among students in Europe, by creating a large pool of knowledgeable students about this topic. It believes that for students being able to live a healthier lifestyle, obstacles such as flavoured cigarettes should be banned with immediate effect. The Public Health Committee is therefore doing a great job by banning this product. The Health4Youth project is glad to see that strong measures are being taken against this strategy to get young people addicted.

 

[1] www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/content/20130708STO16805/html/Public-health-committee-votes-to-ban-slim-and-flavoured-cigarettes

[1] As found at: http://www.legacyforhealth.org/newsroom/press-releases/flavored-tobacco-continues-to-play-a-role-in-tobacco-use-among-young-adults


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Welcome, Croatia! /croatia-eu-welcome/ Mon, 01 Jul 2013 16:10:06 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=644 During the last week of June we have been warming up for welcoming Croatia in the European Union: the European institutions have focused big part of their communication in introducing the new member to the rest of the club through figures, infographics and cool videos highlighting the assets of Croatia or sharing the impressions of some relevant European politicians (part 1 and Part 2), or promoting the whole idea of enlargement itself.

 

Commissioners welcoming Croatia (click to see video)

Moreover. the European Commission held a Youth conference in Zagreb last week, where 80 AEGEE members, and dozens of young Europeans from other NGOs, could meet representatives of the European Commission, the European Youth Forum, and other stakeholders from the European and national (Croatian) level. Topics as entrepreneurship and unemployment, the challenges for the Croatian youth in the new reality, or the advantages and disadvantages of a Croatia inside the EU28 were some of the raised topics. There was also time for a creativity workshop where European youth had to prepare videos with positive messages about enlargement. The results were impressive and gave bright ideas which maybe we will see implemented in future EU campaigns.

Today, Croatia closes a chapter in its history and opens a new one, one where Croatians will be part again of something bigger. For some people, the shadow of the Yugoslavian past is still felt. There are those who fear a dilution of national identity. But the EU is different to Yugoslavia, in the EU28 diversity is an added value, art and culture will be celebrated, and the language will be preserved.

Croatia comes however with a list of challenges that cannot be ignored. Youth unemployment over 50% makes it third of the EU28 list, after Spain and Greece. while 5 years of recession have weakened the economy. The enthusiasm for the EU has decreased lately and in the first elections for the EP representatives from today until the next EP elections, only 20% of Croatians went to vote. Finally, there is a risk that a EU who is fighting back the current crisis situation cannot deliver for the high expectations that some Croatians have raised on the accession. On its benefit, the small size of the country should ease the whole process of assimilation of the new country.

There are also reasons to believe that the accession of Croatia is good news. Looking back just 20 years ago, Croatia was being devastated by a war. The EU was created to restore trust among nations and to provide a durable peace, and the accession of Croatia is an encouraging message to other ex-Yugoslavian republics to speed up the process and make themselves ready for the EU. The real end of the Yugoslav wars will be when they all belong to the EU and they will solve their differences through negotiations and diplomacy. Do not take me for a fool; I know it will not be an easy process and neither a fast one.

Some people are wondering what can be the benefit of the accession for the rest of the EU. We have had Croatians inside AEGEE for more than 20 years and we have seen how big contribution they can make to building Europe from a youth perspective. Now it will be the EU28 who will have the opportunity to bring out the great potential of the Croatian citizens in benefit of all the European Union.

 

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Youth demands co-mananagement in the European Union /youth-comananagement-eu/ Wed, 12 Jun 2013 08:00:58 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=632 On June 5th and 6th, AEGEE-Europe hosted a 2 days event in the European Parliament, where different Belgian and European NGOs had the opportunity to discuss the possibilities for Co-Management in the European institutions, together with representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and its Advisory Council on Youth, and the European Youth Forum. The event was hosted by the MEP Hannes Swoboda, who is also President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament and financed through the Youth in Action Grant. AEGEE-Brussels was organising the conference together with AEGEE-Europe.

What is exactly the Co-Management that we are proposing? We want more than just being consulted in the EU decision-making process. Young people should be involved in the three phases: consultation, decision and monitoring. Co-management is a unique model where governments and youth representatives sit together to decide on the political and strategic priorities of the youth sector, including the budget allocations in accordance with these priorities, and to monitor the sector’s annual or pluriannual programmes. We have seen that this scheme works in the Council of Europe and we want to put it into practice in the European Union.

On the first morning, we had two panels moderated by Marco Grdosic, former president of AEGEE-Europe, where we could get a lot of input.

In the first panel there were interventions from Marian Harkin, MEP from the ALDE group; Pascal Lejeune, head of Youth Unit of the European Commission; André Jaques-Dodin,  Head of the Intergovernmental Division of the youth department of the Council of Europe; Maria Paschou, Chair of the Advisory Council on Youth of the CoE; Peter Matjaši?, President of the European Youth Forum (YFJ); and Luca Scarpiello, Secretary of the Youth Intergroup of the European Parliament. They debated the current structure of the Council of Europe as an example of best practices, and explored the benefits of having a similar system for the European Institutions.

The second panel counted on the participation of Giuseppe Porcaro, Secretary General of the European Youth Forum; Kaisu Suopanki from Allianssi, the Finnish Youth Council, which has already implemented a co-management scheme; Ivailo Kalfin, MEP from the S&D Group; and André-Jacques Dodin. They were discussing the different possibilities of implementing the co-management in the EU institutions.

During the afternoon session on Wednesday, two parallel sessions were scheduled to discuss in depth and work in small groups. On one workshop, the focus was on the possible structure for a youth co-management scheme in the EU and the fields where the co-management would be needed; on the second workshop, the discussion was focused on legitimacy and representation of the European youth in this new structure.

On Thursday, the  participants presented the results of the previous day work to MEP Hannes Swoboda, president of the S&D Group in the EP. After that, they prepared the follow-up of the conference. This process was just initiated and has a long way ahead, but we young Europeans want to play a bigger role in the EU!

We would like to thank all participants for their active contribution, their ideas and their involvement in the whole process. Without them, and the expertise from their organizations in many cases, we could never have achieved such a big outcome. Thanks also to the European Parliament for hosting us, specially MEP Hannes Swoboda, his office and the S&D group of the EP for their support.

With this event, we wanted to take the lead in proposing a greater involvement of young people inside the European Institutions, because we believe that we need to involve them when the discussions are taken, in order to make young people more aware and more interested of what European Politics is about. The co-management system is a very open and transparent system for youth and in the current context, where young people’s need are being one priority of decision-makers, we think that it is very important to take into account the input of young people. We hope that in the future there would be a body of young people representing European youth who could sit equally with the European Commission when making decisions about youth issues.

 

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Fighting Homophobia is fighting for Europe /fighting-homophobia-is-fighting-for-europe/ /fighting-homophobia-is-fighting-for-europe/#comments Fri, 17 May 2013 20:37:15 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=622 Today AEGEE was invited by the Dutch Minister for Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker for a conference that was part of a whole programme centered around IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia). We participated in the presentation of a thorough EU LGBT Survey conducted by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) which shows the situation of different aspects of LGBT discrimination in the EU27+Cratia. A very worrying picture, showing that high percentages of EU citizens still live in fear, having to become invisible and pretend being a different person to avoid discrimination or violence.

You can see here a video with a summary of the survey (click the image):

 

You can download the report here and see the whole information in the website. And the good news is that the Council of Europe committed to reproduce the survey in the remaining member countries.

After the presentation of the report, there was a round table were representatives from some NGOs (like Evelyne Paradis from ILGA-Europe), and also some ministers. The survey’s results were analyzed and there was a consensus that these shameful numbers are a sign that we are not performing as well as we want to believe, especially regarding legislation to protect the rights of the transgender citizens.  The results of this survey should act as a wake up call for Europe to get back in tack, and the people present in the room urged the EU Commission to lead an urgent action on European Level to change the situation. This action should be a coordinated strategy involving each of the Member States through active legislation, but also with the participation of the justice, the media and the whole civil society, all over the continent.

For closing the conference, the EU Commissioner Viviane Reding took the stage and began her intervention by remarking that Homophobia and Transphobia go against the fundamental core of the European Union (concretely Art. 2 of the Treaty of the EU). Fighting against Homophobia and Transphobia is fighting to defend European values. Furthermore, she highlighted the achievements of the EU Commission in making sure that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is respected across the EU legislation, and also enforcing it in the MS by demanding amendments in the legislation of the Member States. You can download a complete report of how the charter is applied in this report. She also took the opportunity to publicly demand the Member States (and there were several ministers in the room) to commit themselves to legislate in favour of LGBT rights, and to unblock several initiatives in the European Council. She used, as a reason to keep hope, the interministerial declaration that was signed yesterday by ten EU ministers (+ Croatia). Let’s see if there are changes in the future. To close, and in response to the very emotive request of one of the participants of the conference for the EU to do something in other parts of the world where the situation is dramatic and where LGBT people can only hope on external support to change their fearful reality, Viviane Reding reaffirmed the support of the EU to LGBT rights inside and outside the Union, through diplomacy and through strengthening of the civil society.

It was a very interesting conference for AEGEE, showing how closely related are the fight for LGBT rights and the idea of Europe; a motivation to keep the current work in the field and maybe explore possible partnerships for the future. Thanks to the FRA for their great work, reports like this one prove how important role this agency plays in Europe.

And remember: LGBT Rights are Human Rights!

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Time is Money: volunteers’ time is given a value! /volunteers-time-given-value-money/ Sat, 09 Mar 2013 09:17:29 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=501 We all knew it, volunteers’ time is of great value. The time we dedicate to our projects and initiatives contributes to the development of Europe, both socially and economically. It also contributes to increase social capital or, in other words, it develops further cooperation among individuals and groups in the community. Moreover, a research carried out by the John Hopkins University measured it and announced that volunteers can contribute up to 5% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

The new regulation on ‘financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union’ has finally admitted this officially. It includes the possibility of giving economic value to the work of volunteers and including it as co-funding for a grant application under 60.000€. This means volunteers’ time can be given the value it deserves and be included in grant applications to European Institutions.

At AEGEE-Europe we very much welcome this change that will enable youth organizations to actually measure the contribution of its volunteers, therefore obtaining further support in their projects. We also consider this decision a significant step forward, in order to reach the goal of give the right value to voluntary activities. However, we are still far from the objective and we encourage European institutions and the Members’ States to proceed with next steps which will go toward a full appreciation of volunteer work, such as the recognition of the skills and competences which are acquired during the volunteer activities.

Written by Felipe González Santos
Policy Officer on Youth Participation of AEGEE-Europe

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League of Young Voters: mobilising people across Europe /lyv-league-young-voters-elections-european-parliament-201/ Fri, 08 Mar 2013 12:05:03 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=492 During February, the European Youth Forum held a Capacity Building event where 38 people from all over Europe, including representatives of 23 National Youth Councils, discussed the project League of Young Voters. The aim of the LYV is to mobilise young people, understood as between 15-35 years old, for European Parliament elections in 2014. The focus will be on the issues concerning young people and the inclusion of those into the political agenda. Without a partisan bias, LYV seeks for reflecting the position of the political families in those issues, and debates are foreseen to be developed.

On the first day of the event, the participants had the opportunity of learning about several aspects of the League of Young Voters Initiative, as for example the logo, and they visited the European Parliament for holding a meeting there with representatives of different political groups (EPP, PES, ALDE and Greens) in order to discuss the role of young people in the upcoming European elections 2014.

The second day was devoted to presentation and discussions on different topics related with the project, such as electoral campaigns, communications and multimedia and funding and financing. A milestone of that event was the presentation of Youth in Action call for the European Elections 2014 by Pascal Lejeune from DG EAC. This presentation was specially interesting because it showed the guidelines that organizations willing to apply have to follow in order to get their actions more successfully funded. Surprisingly, the open call has not been announced yet.

The last day was dedicated to the individual group and putting in common different ideas, and furthermore the development of future synergies that will contribute to strength the projects and to make them more complete.

To sum up, the event was an excellent opportunity to get to know people that are really attached with young issues and with close relations with National Youth Councils with whom the collaboration for future projects could become a valuable asset for AEGEE.

Written by Javier Mendoza, AEGEE-Tenerife

 

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