Uncategorized – 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. Thu, 14 Dec 2017 21:23:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.12 Spanish Electoral Board forbids the EU to promote voting in Spain. /spanish-electoral-board-forbids-the-eu-to-promote-voting-in-spain-2/ Fri, 16 May 2014 14:32:57 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1038 On a resolution issued on the 20th of March, the Spanish Electoral Board (administrative organ that veils for the neutrality of the elections) banned the possibility of a direct encouragement of Spanish citizens to vote by any public. Concretely, it forbids the public powers to use images of people voting, urns or slogans urging to participate in the election process.

AEGEE believes that such an interpretation of the law does not follow the democratic values, since one of the pillars of a democratic society is participation in the election of their representatives, and the right to vote should be encouraged with stronger means than the right to abstain. Indeed, this decision is justified by interpreting that “the right to abstain is an option as legitimate as the right to vote”, thus only information about the elections can be provided, however any incentive to participate to the elections is not authorized.

We would like to point out that Spain is the only country in Europe with such legislation. We recommend the Spanish authorities to analyze the context and the situation in other European countries. The diversity of rules that we have in the European elections leads to a situation where we have on the one hand the Belgian law, where it is compulsory for citizens to vote in elections; whereas on the other hand, in Spain, it is not even allowed to promote voting.

AEGEE, which is currently carrying out the Y Vote 2014 campaign to encourage students and first time voters to participate in the upcoming European elections on 22nd-25th of May, knows well how big a challenge can be to bring the trust back to the citizens. We believe that Member States, instead of taking a neutral role, should rather support civil society organisations in fighting political disaffection by encouraging their citizens to cast their vote and to participate in the decision-making process at all levels.

In the end, one should not forget that abstaining to vote is far different from casting a white ballot. If the former can be explained by a wide range of reasons (lack of awareness, disinterest, lack of time…), the latter is interpreted as a sign of nonconformity and lack of proper candidate to represent them. To sum up, abstention highlights a dysfunction on the elector side , whereas a white ballot underlines a lack of suitable options on the candidates side. On top of that, it has been shown already that politicians are not taking abstention seriously enough to change anything in their political stand.

At this very same moment, the Y Vote campaign is touring in a bus around Spain, visiting Madrid, Valladolid, A Coruña, Oviedo, Santander, Bilbao, Burgos, Zaragoza and Barcelona, with debates with MEP candidates, street actions and a special focus on youth eployment and the solutions to the problems of European youth. The bus tour will finish on May 20th, 5 days before the elections take place in Spain.

 

Written by Pablo Hernández (AEGEE-Alicante), Policy Officer of AEGEE-Europe for Youth Participation

]]>
European Youth Foundation: one step further toward recognition of volunteers /european-youth-foundation-one-step-further-toward-recognition-of-volunteers/ /european-youth-foundation-one-step-further-toward-recognition-of-volunteers/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 09:57:57 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=933 AEGEE-Europe enthusiastically welcomes the decision of the Council of Europe (CoE) to include volunteers’ time in the grants that they are opened to youth organisations through the  European Youth Foundation, bringing into reality the concept of volunteers time recognition (VTR). The CoE specifies VTR is “a contribution people provide of their own free will to invest time and service for the benefit of a youth activity implemented by a non-profit-making youth-led organisation, and for which there is no monetary or in-kind payment (e.g. fees, salaries)”.

Y vote 2014 volunteers working in implementation of the project.

Co-funding is usually a big issue for youth organisations, and being able to give economical value to volunteers time and contribution can be considered as a positive sign that we are moving towards a fair and better treatment of volunteers. Therefore, we would like to thank the efforts of all the actors involved in the process that has lead to the adoption of this measure, specially the Advisory Council on Youth and the European Youth Forum.

Unfortunately, volunteering remains little recognised despite its benefits on the individuals as well as on the society. In its position paper on recognition of Volunteering, AEGEE-Europe is asking for greater efforts from decision-makers as well as Educational centres, to give more credit and recognition to the figure of volunteers and provide flexibility to make volunteering compatible with studies.

In spite of being only a trial phase of two years, this initiative from the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe is a big step forward; a recognition of the contribution of volunteers with their time will drastically help Youth Organisations when preparing their grant applications. It will also give more opportunities to small youth NGOs to apply for these grants, if they are allowed to complete the co-financing requirements with the VTR. Moreover, it will also prompt youth organisations to measure the actual impact of volunteers work on a project, not only in terms of time, but also in terms of social impact.

AEGEE-Europe expects that the European Youth Foundation’s decision will set an example for other institutions, such as the European Union, to also consider implementing co-funding with VTR within the EU grants.

 

]]>
/european-youth-foundation-one-step-further-toward-recognition-of-volunteers/feed/ 1
10 years of the World Youth Summit on Globalisation /10-years-of-world-youth-summit-globalisation/ Tue, 10 Dec 2013 11:07:01 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=823 Ten years ago, AEGEE organised the World Youth Summit on Globalisation. Held at the EP Brussels, this was the grand closure of the 2003 Yearplan Project of AEGEE-Europe Youth & Globalisation.  In a lot of ways, this event was unique because for the first time, AEGEE had opened its doors to other active youths from across the globe to discuss the effects on youth and globalisation. In fact, in spite of all the problems related with bureaucracy and visa, we managed to have people from all over the continents debating with representatives from the main International Institutions such as the EU, World Bank and UN.  It was exceptional and special in a lot of ways.

Participants of the WYS in the European Parliament

By way of a result, we had produced what we had termed the “Final Strategy Paper” which was subsequently channeled to the Institutions, contacts and other stakeholders. You can download that paper here.

In words of one of the organisers: “This event was very inspirational to many people who subsequently became very active within AEGEE and beyond. It had also given a boost to AEGEE to concentrate on thematic work, and the Youth & Globalisation Project continued to prepare significant events which made us meet big names like Kofi Annan, Karzai, and the Royal Family in Spain. It was the beginning of a big milestone. That said, on a personal level, I think the WYS was one of the most amazing events that I have ever organised within AEGEE and it remains very close to my heart.”

We hope the story of this event, perfectly summarised on this video, inspires a new generation of AEGEE members to aim high and achieve big things.

Click of the image to see the video

Click here to see the video

 

]]>
Spanish students force their Government to revert ERASMUS cuts /spanish-students-force-wert-revert-erasmus-cut/ Tue, 12 Nov 2013 09:21:50 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=800 An earthquake shook during last week the Spanish society, when the ministry of Education published in the Spanish official Bulletin (BOE) the ministerial decision of cutting back the national support to the ERASMUS students from the current year on, except on the cases they had received a ministerial grant on the previous year.

This measure meant that most of the students (around 30.000) already at their foreign European universities would be affected, finding themselves with a smaller economical support than the one it was agreed when they accepted their destination. This in most cases would imply the need to cancel their stay abroad, a limitation on the possibilities to visit the neighbouring areas, or a bigger effort for their families.

 

Minister Wert, the promoter of the cuts in ERASMUS in Spain

But we use past tense, since one ERASMUS student from Spain found out about the decision and instantly set off the alarm. This triggered a chain reaction which involved all students, hundreds of student organisations, all social media with trending topics and a video,  a successful online petition, and the whole society. They all joined forces to fight against the unfairness of the measure being applied to the current students. They also denounced the lack of vision of such an austerity measure, which will compromise the future of the competitiveness of the next generation of Spanish job seekers, in a Europe where mobility is more and more important.

AEGEE, as one of the main student stakeholders, was contacted by several national and local media. We had the opportunity to our position against the measure and to explain how it could harm the economic recuperation of Spain. Moreover, our local branches collaborated actively in the diffusion of the online petition that gathered 200.000 signatures in a very short time, and organised themselves to give an adequate response to the situation. The European Union also intervened and called off Spain for this measure that affects one of the most valued European programmes. In a moment where the European project needs more than ever success stories to fight against pessimism and Euroscepticism, the ERASMUS programme is a very sensitive topic in Brussels.

However, even if last week the minister Wert was forced by its own party to take the measure back in the current year, the situation for the next year is potentially at risk. Spanish ERASMUS students will protest next Saturday, Nov 16th, in front of embassies and consulates. Equally, AEGEE groups in Spain have already launched a follow-up task force. We need to be ready to react and defend the ERASMUS project from any austerity measure, since we believe it is one of the key tools the European youth has to be ready for the challenges of the future. We helped the ERASMUS coming to life in the mid-80’s, and we are not staying impassible when they threaten it anywhere in Europe today.

Written by Miguel Gallardo, Comité Directeur

 

]]>
Blog Action Day: youth rights are human rights /blog-action-day-youth-rights-are-human-rights/ Wed, 16 Oct 2013 10:03:55 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=755 Today, October 16th is Blog Action Day. This is an annual event that aims to bring bloggers closer together and this year its topic is human rights.

We got inspired by the visually amazing and conceptually clear contribution of the blog zen pencils. Click on the picture to see the complete masterpiece:

AEGEE-Europe is involved with Human Rights on a daily basis. We clearly defend them in our Statement of Principles and we also have a very active Human Rights Working Group, bringing the current topics to the attention of young Europeans and providing a platform for discussion and exchange of ideas that, in many occasions, are the seed of projects all around our Network of local organizations. During the last year, for instance, AEGEE has contributed to the Campaign against Hate Speech online of the Council of Europe with two events, one in Bratislava (Slovakia) and another one in Katowice (Poland). AEGEE also held a student conference about the situation of asylum seekers in Europe that was hosted in Leuven (Belgium).

We have also launched recently a campaign to keep the discussion on Youth Rights alive in the Council of Europe, since this topic is at risk of being taken out of the agenda after the failure of last year’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in Moscow where the opposition of some countries to recognise these rights blocked the adoption of a final document. What we demand in our campaign YouthRights.NOW is the support of as many countries as possible to keep the negotiations open because what we are demanding as youth rights are nothing more and nothing less that the recognision that youth is a very vulnerable group regarding some very specific human rights. We already got the support of the first countries to our campaign and we expect to motivate many more countries to join our cause. So we invite you to visit the website of the campaign www.youthrights.eu, from where you can write a message to your delegation at the Council of Europe to push for recognision of youth rights in Europe. And please share it with your contacts to make sure we have enough support to our cause.

You can read more about the campaign and the 10 youth organizations that are behind it in our article about the launch of the YouthRights.NOW campaign, and also visit the website of the Blog Action Day.

 

]]>
European Youth Calls the Council of Europe to Protect their Rights Now /european-youth-calls-the-council-of-europe-to-protect-their-rights-now-2/ Tue, 01 Oct 2013 21:32:32 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=740 AEGEE-Europe, together with 10 youth organizations from all over Europe, has launched the campaign YouthRights.NOW for the recognition of specific rights for youth. These youth rights include education and training, employment, housing, health and the right to a healthy environment, participation, sexual and reproductive health, culture and sport, non-discrimination, as wells as proper information on youth policies and its implementation.

In the current situation, these rights are being violated with worrying frequency, therefore this call for action to increase the protection of one of the collectives more severely affected by the current economic and social crisis in Europe. You can read more about the campaign in the website www.youthrights.eu

This campaign is the outcome of a meeting of youth organizations in Strasbourg last April. During this meeting, they developed this campaign led by young people who want to improve the reality. All organizations involved are committed to bring this discussion on the political agenda, and will participate in mobilising the youth sector to make them aware of their rights and to invite them to claim for a bigger protection in Europe. The situation is very different across our continent and this has to be changed because “youth rights should not depend on which passport you carry”, according to Luis Alvarado Martínez, president of AEGEE-Europe.

 

The campaign addresses the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organisation. It includes 47 member states, including the 28 members of the European Union. Their Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) has discussed previously the topic and issued several recommendations, but the opposition of some countries has made impossible the adoption of a stronger position in the Committee of Ministers. The YouthRights.NOW campaign aims to gather support from all European youth to convince the Council of Europe of the need of this recognition without further delay.

This campaign is launched by the European Students’ Forum (AEGEE-Europe), the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU), Young European Federalists (JEF-Europe), the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Youth and Student Organization (IGLYO), the European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL), Youth for Exchange and Understanding International (YEU), the World Esperanto Youth Organisation (TEJO), the Portuguese Youth Council (CNJ), the Flemish youth council (VJR), MUSE-E-Kosovo, and the European Law Students Associaction (ELSA) as legal advisor; it is supported by the European Youth Forum (YFJ) and the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe.

AEGEE-Europe gathers 13000 students in 200 cities of 40 European countries and is the biggest interdisciplinary student organization in Europe.

]]>
Brussels interns say “Enough!” to abusive working conditions /brussels-interns-say-enough-to-abusive-working-conditions/ /brussels-interns-say-enough-to-abusive-working-conditions/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 19:54:41 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=690 Today at lunch I took a longer break and went to Place Luxemburg to support a very relevant initiative launched by a small group of interns in Brussels. Mostly coming from the UN office and some from private companies, the interns behind this initiative aimed to create an event to raise awareness of the poor conditions many of the Brussels interns have to work. Through social networks they managed to gather not only a big number of interns in the concentration (more than 200), but big attention from the media and also support from relevant stakeholders such as the European Youth Forum and the Youth Intergroup of the European Parliament.

Header of their Facebook event “The Sandwich Protest”

The concerns of the interns were clear and straightforward. The quality of the internships is sometimes quite poor, consisting in the repetition of mechanical tasks, without any tutoring or mentoring that ensures a learning process for the intern. Moreover, the interns are poorly paid (or even not paid at all) in what is not only a kind of exploitation, but also limits drastically the access to this (potentially) great learning opportunity to those who can afford a stay in Brussels. Another big problem is the lack of social benefits such as health care coverage, unemployment compensation… And finally, the sad fact is that in many cases, internships do not serve the purpose of shortening the transition period between education and the first job. Even worse, young graduates are in many cases forced to accept one internship after another, thus resulting in delays of the process that was supposed to be shortened and making the first years of the career of young professionals a very uncertain period.

As a student organization, AEGEE-Europe feels very close to the requests of these interns who, seeing the problems in the system, take action to improve it. Their approach is very balanced, as they do not blame the institutions or companies where they are working. They acknowledge that “an internship in Brussels is a great chance to develop practical skills and to gain work experience”. They stated in their declaration that the protest is not against their employers, but against the mindset that makes people think that you should feel lucky when you are earning 400 euros for performing tasks which would correspond to an employee. It is about unfairness and finding a solution to improve the situation.

Reading the declaration (Picture taken from the Internal Voices website)

The timing of their protest cannot be more adequate. The European Youth Forum presented already their European Quality Charter on Internships and Apprenticeships and the MEP Karima Delli announced that the European Parliament has also their charter ready, only waiting for the Commission to give leave. Now there is also bottom-up pressure, with the affected interns taking initiative and receiving support of almost every actor in the field. It is high time the European Union provides a quality framework for internships to prevent them from creating an alternative labour-market which lacks equal opportunities to access an often precarious temporary position. We would like the European Union to take the first step and lead this change by example, by ensuring proper conditions to all the interns they host in their institutions, to prove that it is possible and even a win-win situation, because a poorly treated intern soon gets demotivated and its work efficiency is reduced.

They will continue the movement with a new meeting in October. If you want to follow the process, make sure you keep yourself informed through their event in facebook.

]]>
/brussels-interns-say-enough-to-abusive-working-conditions/feed/ 2
Rethinking education: the European students ideas /rethinking-education-european-commission-aegee/ /rethinking-education-european-commission-aegee/#comments Wed, 13 Feb 2013 14:36:28 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=449 Last november the European Commission released the communication Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes. This document has been read carefully by several stakeholders in the education sector, as marks the Commission’s guidelines for the European policies in one of the most sensitive fields of national and European politics.

AEGEE’s opinion on the document is generally positive as it shows the will of the European Commission to adapt the educational system in Europe to the new challenges that nowadays society poses. However, there are some concerns that need to be addressed, regarding some critical aspects as the independence of the education institutions, the need for a balanced set of skills (that include not only the needs of the labour market but also the needs of society) or the need of including students in the decision-making process, among others.

Androulla Vassiliou presenting "Rethinking Education" communication (Photo: EC)

Read the complete reaction of AEGEE on www.aegee.org

 

]]>
/rethinking-education-european-commission-aegee/feed/ 1
Missing democracy! When found, bring it back to youth! /missing-democracy-when-found-bring-it-back-to-youth/ Mon, 22 Oct 2012 13:29:02 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=234 Last week some AEGEEans participated in the first World Forum for Democracy. In his opening speech of Jean Claude Mignon, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe described it as the Davos of Democracy. It was preceded by the
Youth Assembly, where nearly 150 young people (Europe and beyond) discussed on the topic “Youth and Democracy, the young generation sacrificed?” for three days. With such a topic, the Youth Assembly held sessions and worked hard to share opinions and reach an agreement on one final document, which can be found here. This document was supposed to be presented to the World Forum, but the previous night they got noticed that this was some “misunderstanding” and that the young people were “not required” to address the plenary at the Opening Ceremony.

On October 8th, the young representatives went to attend the Opening Ceremony, willing to do everything possible to address the World Forum on behalf of the young people of Europe and the World. First obstacle, not all the young delegates were allowed to come into the hemicycle, the other ones had to follow the streaming in a “video room”. After that, the delegates went to find Mr. Mignon to ask for a change and to be finally allowed to speak. He explained he was not responsible deciding on who should speak there and that he wasn’t authorized to talk there even as a parliamentary representative.

Amandine from AEGEE, Costas from PAFOS, and Mr Connarty (a member of the UK parliament who supports youth issues) tried again, this time talking with the Liaison Office of the Secretary General (Mr Jagland’s). The fact that young people did not want to play the bureaucracy game of meeting in an office while the session was about to start (to sweep the issue under the rug) made them react quite aggressively and the security staff threatened to get our representatives out. In the end things calmed down but we were told that they would not grant us even 2 minutes. Our only hope to address the forum was if someone gave us part of their time, and that we should ask Mr Mignon to let us speak. The official reason was lack of time. Guess what? The plenary started 20 minutes late, 10 speeches worth.

Therefore the young representatives in the hemicycle decided that after the second speaker, during the opening session, they will put tape on their mouths, stand up and hold hands.
They didn’t say anything or make any noise, they just stood to denounce the silencing of youth voice.
The other action the “action group” worked on was distributing flyers : “Missing democracy, when found, please bring it back to youth” was the message. Even when they were not forcing people to take them, immediately a security guy started to collect them all, even from the people that accepted them. He even started chasing one of the youth delegates to tell her to sit down and took all of her papers so she could not distribute them anymore. The security was already surrounding the youth delegation from the moment when they put the tape on their mouths.

Finally it was Mr Mignon who offered 2 minutes of his time of speech so we could be heard. Unfortunately, it was after the closing of the opening plenary and after a break, so most of the media had already left and the room was half empty. In the afternoon, Jean Claude Mignon invited us to his office for one hour so we could talk with him, young members gave him some feedback on what they thought about the Youth Assembly.

On the following days of the World Forum, even though still some difficulties were faced, good networking could be done, and the message of the Youth Assembly was carried out in
the different panels organized.

]]>