Future – 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 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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Europe on Track 2 empowers European youth to become actors in the construction of the Europe of tomorrow /europe-on-track-2-empowers-european-youth-to-become-actors-in-the-construction-of-the-europe-of-tomorrow-2/ Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:30:08 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=1022 AEGEE-Europe launched on Wednesday 9th April the project Europe on Track 2. After presenting the project in the press conference at the European Parliament, six ambassadors divided in two teams began their traveling by train all over the European continent during one month, with the objective of interviewing young people from various backgrounds about their vision of Europe.

To set the context, the results and the documentary from the first edition (winner of the 2013 European Charlemagne Youth Prize) were presented to the audience. Then the project coordinators introduced the features of Europe on Track 2, which this time focuses on encouraging young people to get involved as active citizens and capture possible ways of participating in the construction of the European Project.

At a time when European integration is being questioned, and when young people’s future prospects have become hazy, Europe on Track wants to act as a loudspeaker for the youth, bringing their opinion, their realities and their wishes to decision-makers” Réka Salamon, project coordinator, said.

The six travelers will visit 25 cities in 16 countries, reaching as far as the Baltics, the Balkans and Ukraine. In local events they will discuss about mobility programmes, youth employment, the European elections, youth participation and europtimism. All the discussions and insights will be documented with videos, pictures and articles shared in the Europe on Track blog and through social media.

In order to overcome the geographical and time limits, Europe on Track partners with Debating Europe to host two online debates on youth mobility and youth participation. “With this partnership we hope to spark online discussion that can add to the project’s results, engaging more young people and even not-so-young people from all European countries“, said Rocío Leza, project coordinator.

AEGEE also counts with the support of Interrail, who makes this ambitious project possible. Besides, our partner Youth For Public Transport supports the sustainable transport of the travelers by providing them with a carbon footprint calculator created especially for the project. “We thought that there was no better way of contributing to the project than supporting the sustainable transport of the ambassadors, providing them with the possibility to really think about their mobility choices!” in words of Jerome Kisielewicz, Y4PT.

Find more about Europe on Track:
We invite you to follow the upcoming events of ‘Europe on track’ on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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EU Energy targets for 2030. On the way to 2050? /eu-energy-targets-2030/ Tue, 01 Apr 2014 08:50:55 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=988 The European Union strives for less than 2 degrees temperature rise this century in comparison with the pre-industrial times. In order to reach this goal, scientists have calculated that the carbon emission should be reduced by 80% in 2050 (1). There are different ways in which this reduction could be reached: achieve a higher energy efficiency, increase the use of renewable energy, and reduce the share of polluting energy sources are ways to decrease the greenhouse gasses emissions.

Every ten years, the European Commission proposes new mid-term energy targets. The current energy targets are set for 2020, and the first energy proposal for 2030 was recently voted upon in the Parliament. The proposal of the European Commission for 2030 is a 40% reduction of greenhouse gasses and reach a 27% (non-binding) share in renewable energies in the mix. The Parliament voted in favour on a resolution of 40% reduction of carbon emission, 30% share of the renewable energy market and 40% energy efficiency improvement by 2030. The Parliament criticised in this way the proposal of the European Commission (2): the renewable energy target is set to 20% in 2020, and increasing it only by 7% in 2030 would be unambitious. Furthermore, there are no national targets for renewable energy, which makes the Member States unaccountable. Additionally, the energy efficiency should be a very important objective, and there is no target set about this topic in the proposal of the Commission right now. However, the resolution of the EP is not binding, and the final proposal will be voted upon by the new Parliament in October.

In an analysis of the Friends of the Earth,  a decrease of 60% of carbon emission would be in line with the targets of 2050, instead of the 40% proposed right now. In total there should be a reduction of 80% in carbon emission by 2050 to strive for less than 2 degrees temperature rise at the end of this century (compared to the pre-industrial times). The reduction of only 40% in 2030 means that after 2030 there should be still an additional reduction of 40% in 20 years. There are no changes in the Emission Trade System so far, and the carbon prices will be low until 2030 when nothing is done (3). Internationally, Europe will continue the trend of losing its leading position in carbon emission with this proposal. The US and China will probably have more ambitious plans and targets to reduce their carbon emission in the future.

We wonder: where is the voice of the scientist and the youth in this proposal? The knowledge of the scientists is used to support decisions when it is in the benefit of the decision-makers, but non-scientific arguments become suddenly more important when the scientific facts are not pointing in the direction of the interest of the political forces. The youth has the power to reform the present in order to preserve the future; their voice and their concerns should be heard!

For many European citizens, the legislators in Brussels seems to be the big angry power which limits the growth of their countries when they impose a limitation of the carbon emissions. It is the responsibility of governments to explain why these energy targets are so important for the future of Europe, and show that this is the only way for a long term successful economy. We should develop not by bringing the healthy future of our planet and children in danger, but striving for a sustainable Europe.

To the decision makers we would like to say: about the importance of a sustainable future, do not only talk but act accordingly!

Written by Iris Hordijk, Policy Officer of AEGEE-Europe for Sustainability

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AEGEE welcomes the launch of EU-Serbia Accession Talks /aegee-welcomes-the-launch-of-eu-serbia-accession-talks/ Wed, 05 Feb 2014 11:17:42 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=926 On January 21st, the official negotiations with Serbia on its accession to the European Union were opened at the first meeting of the Accession Conference at the Ministerial level. The EU delegation, headed by Greece’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Evangelos Venizelos, presented to the Serbian colleagues the “Negotiating Framework” which takes into account the experience of the most recent EU enlargements and on-going accession negotiations. It reflects as well Serbia’s own merits and specific country characteristics. The main aim of the launched negotiations is to prepare Serbia integrally to adopting the EU legislation and ensuring its full implementation and enforcement within the state.

AEGEE-European Students’ Forum would like to express its satisfaction within the recent developments in the EU-Serbia relationship.

Serbia, a country shattered by bloody fratricidal wars back in 1990’s as a result of the collapse of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and who suffered successive reductions of their territory, has progressed a lot within the frame of  the Stabilisation and Association Process for the Western Balkans. The government in Belgrade has implemented big steps towards establishing competitive and well functioning market economy, thus making the country a reliable regional partner of the European Union.

In addition, within the recent months, the Serbian Government has shown a strong commitment for further deepening its relations with the EU, based on the common and shared values. The Serbian authorities have also undertaken visible and constructive steps towards the peaceful settlement of the existing conflict with Kosovo.

AEGEE, as an organisation striving for socially, economically and politically integrated Europe, would like to welcome the ongoing developments and launched EU-Serbia Accession talks. We have local representation in 4 Serbian cities (Belgrade, Kragujevac, Niš, Novi Sad) and we consider that the strong involvement of the civil society, and namely the young people and youth organisations, is vital for development of multilateral discussions over the EU accession process and talks.

The Republic of Serbia has stepped on a fundamentally new stage of its development through initiating the accession talks with the EU. Meanwhile, we would like to highlight the necessity and urgency of sustainability of the undertaken reforms namely in the fields of good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption policy, independence of key state institutions, protection of ethnic minorities and enrooting of active business environment in the country. Only in case of strong commitment to implement the respective reforms, the EU accession talks may be beneficial for the Republic of Serbia.

Armenak Minasyants, Policy Officer for European Neighbourhood Policy of AEGEE-Europe

 

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The follow up of the COP in Warsaw /the-follow-up-of-the-cop-in-warsaw/ Tue, 07 Jan 2014 10:33:09 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=839 The voice of the youth in at the Climate Change Conference in Warsaw: how serious is the new generation taken in the sustainable development of the world?

From  11th to 22nd of November, the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) gathered in Warsaw for its 19th Conference of the Parties (COP)1. In the capital of Poland the parties attended the Climate Change Conference to discuss and draft an agreement on the way forward to a new global climate deal in 2015. This deal will be implemented in the participating parties from 2020 on, once the second commitment period ends.

It was very surprising the little attention media paid to the COP in Warsaw. I expected more articles in newspapers, interviews and media attention for this climate conference. Perhaps the media thought that the outcome would not be interesting, or decided that people are fed up of bad news that the earth is in danger and do not need any more calls to act now.

The outcomes were not that ambitious indeed; I will just mention the three most important ones. First, the Green Climate Fund (a fund to help developing countries to cope with climate change)  has a board right now, and soon they will fulfill the essential requirements to receive, manage, program, and disburse financial resources.  By 2020 the fund will receive 100 billion US dollars. The 4th of December the fund opened the headquarters in South Korea. Second, the Warsaw Framework REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) program pledges for 280 million dollars from US, Norway and UK. The REDD+ is initiated to stop deforestation and forest degradation on a global scale. Third, the Adaptation Fund, a fund to finance national projects on climate change adaptation, has received money from developed countries.

The outcomes of the Climate Change Conference were quite disappointing for the international youth and environmental and climate justice groups. Thirteen environmental and climate justice groups, Greenpeace, World Wide Fund and Oxfam International included, left the COP before the closing of the conference and made this joined statement: “The Warsaw Climate Conference, which should have been an important step in the just transition to a sustainable future, is on track to deliver virtually nothing.” Especially in the latest months, when you could read and see how many people become a victim of the typhoon at the Philippines, a clear example of climate change, it is necessary to take our responsibility. As an interesting contrast, outside the conference center the lobby for coal industry was taking place. The expression ‘green’ coal is still something hard to understand.

NGOs leaving the COP

The Conference of the Youth took place one week before the COP and it was a preparation for the Climate Change Conference. During the COP the youth organisations and delegates worked together to lobby for action. Also other youth initiatives were taken, such as a climate train departing from Belgium2 with 700 young people in total on board. Overall, the feeling of the youth was that their voice is not heard, or not seriously enough taken, although climate change is something that will develop further in the future and affect us specially.

The next COP will be held in December 2014 in the capital of Peru, Lima. Youth will speak out loud and make sure its voice will be heard during this COP . Most of the big leaders in the world are driven by a financial motive, but without a world to live, money is nothing worth. We, Youth, will not give up and we will fight for a healthy future for yourself and the Earth!

Written by Iris Hordijk. AEGEE-Europe’s Policy Officer for Sustainability.

1 The UNFCCC consist of 195 parties and 192 of them adopted the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. 37 States in total are legally bind to emission limitations and to reduction commitments. The ultimate objective is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level  that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

2 See the link http://train-en.climatejustice.eu/train.html

 

 

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Looking into 2014: a crucial year for the future of Europe /looking-into-2014-a-crucial-year-for-the-future-of-europe/ Mon, 06 Jan 2014 16:36:52 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=857 2013 was a year where things have started to change in Europe. Economic recuperation has been officially announced, but still has not been felt by the citizens who have to fight against unemployment and cuts in salaries or social benefits in their countries. Angela Merkel got elected again, becoming the first leader among the big democracies in Europe to resist the effects of the crisis on a national election; however, she needed a big coalition to form her government.

While the European Union is being questioned more than ever among its members, thousands of Ukrainian citizens faced cold winter winds and brutal attacks from police just to defend their European dream, first, and to claim democratic reforms in their country, later, making a lot of people think again of the positive facts of the still-in-construction European project. On the other side, we saw PM Cameron launching his proposal of referendum about an exit of the UK from EU, and we feel an increase of nationalistic and anti-EU messages in national media almost in every EU country. On the other hand, the EU welcomed Croatia in a new step towards reunification, especially relevant in a sensible area such as the Balkans. Two steps forward, one backward; this seems to be the rhythm of a new European dance.

But what can we expect from 2014?

The year will be marked by the elections to the European Parliament in May, where the European citizens will have the opportunity to speak through their votes. Will we see an increase of the presence of nationalist and anti-EU parties in the EP? It is quite likely they will increase notably their seats in the Parliament, but presumably they won’t pose a threat to the pro-European policies. And if, instead of sterile complaints and media-ready statements, they decide to have a constructive critical discourse, their contribution will for sure improve the decisions taken in the Parliament. In any case, the most likely scenario is a new decrease in participation in the electoral process, caused by the disaffection of many Europeans to the politicians that govern them and the gap between the EU institutions and the citizens. How the EU will fight the abstention in these elections, is one of the pressing questions this year that will be answered soon.

Apart from the elections, there are several other focus areas to follow in Europe this year. Will the new EU budget have a swift impact on the Member States daily life? Will the evolution of the civic protests in neighbouring countries, such as Turkey and Ukraine, lead to improvements in the democracy in those countries? Will the situation of human rights in Russia worsen, now that terrorism has come back into the scene, or will  the international pressure suceed in changing the Kremlin’s policies towards minorities and civil rights?

The referendum for the independence of Scotland (and the one in Catalonia, if it takes place), and especially the questions related to how to deal with their outcomes, will pose new challenges to the EU. The effects of the full access of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU deserve attention too, and hopefully the apocalyptic messages in UK tabloids will be silenced by facts that prove that the end of this unfair situation will just bring benefits to all of us. And we will still have to deal on a daily basis with the causes and effects of the economic and financial crisis, the solution to the unbearable unemployment rates, and the “austerity vs stimulation” dilemma.

For the young people… what will be the priorities? They will keep an eye on what affects them most: education and grants, and how budget cuts impact them. But… will the European young citizens feel how much their participation in the European Parliament is sought? Will their needs be taken into account by the decision-makers?

Obviously, there will be unexpected highlights in these 12 months of 2014, because Europe will always be an amazing place to live, which never ceases to surprise us.

Anna, Bea, Kathrin, Lucille, Luis, Miguel and Pavel
Comité Directeur 2013-14

Photos: courtesy of AEGEE-Ogre, European Parliament EP elections video and KyivPost

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AEGEE stands with the pro-European Ukrainians /aegee-stands-with-the-pro-european-ukrainians/ /aegee-stands-with-the-pro-european-ukrainians/#comments Fri, 22 Nov 2013 17:53:35 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=809 AEGEE-Europe, shocked by the very recent decision of the Ukrainian Government to suspend the process of preparation for signature of the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Ukraine at the EU-EaP Vilnius Summit, would like to present the following statement:

Within the last 4 years, Ukraine has signed the visa facilitation agreement and implemented many reforms, which led to the perspective of signing the Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU in the next days. For the last 15 months, we all were closely following the way of Ukraine to the EaP Vilnius Summit, and on many occasions we have expressed our sincere hope for the success of this process. However, there were more than two sides involved into this story. Russian Federation has always considered Ukraine as its resource partner and a strong candidate for joining the so called “Customs Union”, which includes Kazakhstan and Belarus. At the high point, when it has been announced that Ukraine is taking the pro-European external political direction, the pressure from the Russian Federation towards Ukraine has peaked.

In our statement of September 16, 2013 we shared our concerns and condemned the economic coercion exerted by the Russian authorities towards Ukraine, Moldova and Armenia. However, the Russian Federation, not taking into account the calls from the EU institutions and officials that the EaP program was not established to harm bilateral relations of the EaP countries with the Russian Federation,  has extended its pressure to the media blackmailing campaign focused on possible European integration of Ukraine. Even under such pressure from its’ Eastern neighbor, the Ukrainian government was still planning to sign the mentioned agreements in Vilnius. Therefore, the statement made by the Ukrainian government on 21st of November was shocking not only for any common Ukrainian citizen, but also for the European Union. One of the countries that has shown the biggest interest and has made bigger efforts in the European Integration over the past years is now making a sudden u-turn in its external policy and stopping the required preparations for the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, to be held next week.

At AEGEE-Europe, we would like to state our serious concerns on such decision. We join the statement 131121/04 of the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on Ukraine and underline that – as a panEuropean student association standing for liberty, democracy, and respect for human rights and the rule of law – we are fully supporting the European integration of Ukraine as an example for all other countries of the EaP programme. We stand strong with our commitment to the members of AEGEE in Ukraine, young people, students and all Ukrainian citizens in their will for the European integration and better future. We hope that the Ukrainian government, Parliament and President will take into account  the raising movement of #Euromaidan. AEGEE-Europe once again expresses its strict condemnation towards the political and economic pressure exercised by the Russian authorities, since they are in conflict with the right of each sovereign state to decide its political roadmap for the future.

Since its establishment in 1985, AEGEE strives for a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe, which is socially, economically and politically integrated, and values the participation of young people in its construction and development. Exactly 20 years ago the first Ukrainian local representation of AEGEE join our Network, which we consider to be a clear indication of the fact that the European community and fundamental values since the collapse of the Soviet Union have become also part of Ukraine and the Ukrainian civil society. Since 1993 there have  been more than 10 local representations/branches of AEGEE established around Ukraine which led to broad promotion of the European values and European education programmes among the local students and young people. Our association has always supported will of the Ukrainian students to build better society and bring their country closer to the European dream.In regard to our support of the ongoing Eastern Partnership Programme, in 2011 we established AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project, which currently works on the priority directions of the leading EU institutes and brings additional thematic impact to the actions of our organisation. Since 2011 we have been working for both sides: promoting European Values and European Union in 6 countries of the EaP programme as well as raising awareness in EU on current actions in the EaP region, promoting cultural heritage and history of EaP regions, closely following development of the EaP programme as well as the progress done by every single country.

Written by Alla Resheten, Project Manager of the AEGEE-Europe EaP Project, and Armenak Minasyants, Policy Officer of AEGEE-Europe for European Neighbourhood Policy.

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Impressions on the EP plenary on Youth Employment /impressions-on-the-ep-plenary-on-youth-employment/ Wed, 11 Sep 2013 06:54:40 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=717 Yesterday the European Parliament held a session dedicated to Youth Unemployment. It was a very interesting session to follow, where almost all voices agreed on some points such as the seriousness of the situation in some of the countries and regions and the need for a strong action from the European Union.

We learned at the very beginning that the Lithuanian Presidency has adopted Social Inclusion of NEETs (youth Not in Education, Employ or Training) as its priority on Youth policy. We in AEGEE celebrate this decision.

Commissioner László Andor began by presenting all the actions taken on the European Level to revert the trend of destruction of jobs. Here, the initiatives included in the Youth Employment Package and developed in the Youth Employment Initiative, were showcased; namely the Youth Guarantee Scheme and the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. Later interventions however remarked the fact that independent studies have shown the big gap between the necessary funding and the amount allocated from European budget. This was supposed to be covered by countries but it is not certain it will happen, risking the success of these measures.

MEPs more on the left side blamed the conservative parties of being hypocrites for asking for solutions to the problem of youth unemployment, while they are responsible for it (at least partially) through the imposition of austerity measures.

According to many MEPs the solution to the problem of unemployment has to be based in investment. The necessary austerity measures should not apply to areas such as education, entrepreneurship, I+D… which require strong investments to start working full steam again.

Moreover, some MEPs highlighted the risk of placing the young Europeans on a terrible dilemma. The one of having to choose between a badly paid job and no job at all. Moreover, those work-for-free schemes such as internships have become sometimes traps for our youth, and they do not lead to stable jobs after the learning process because another intern covers the same place.

In the end, it was a very interesting plenary because the different speakers showed up that, even on such a critical point of the political agenda, they are divided and there are contradictory positions. Something that young voters will take into account for sure when deciding their vote in the next elections. We in AEGEE will give Employment a great focus in our new project Y Vote 2014, which aims at empowering young people to make an informed choice during the European Parliament elections by undertaking actions both on European and local level.

Time now to follow the State of the European Union plenary. You can follow it here.

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What can young people do for Europe? /europe-2020-young-people-elections-2014/ /europe-2020-young-people-elections-2014/#comments Wed, 15 May 2013 19:53:57 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=614 In response to Wat kan Europa voor de jongeren doen? (translation: What can Europe do for young people?) by Bart Staes (Belgian MEP for Greens/EFA), published in Knack on May 9, 2013.

 

“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” This sentence from the inaugural speech of John F. Kennedy has been used so often and in so many situations, and yet it can hardly be called a cliché. Also in this context it still remains true and powerful: European young people are not yet lost.

The situation is dire. So much cannot be denied. Youth unemployment keeps rising month after month and it is approaching the threshold of 25% in the euro zone. But does this turn people away from Europe? Does the average young person know enough about Europe for this? And what future do young people see for the European Union in 2020?

These and other questions formed the content of the first edition of the Europe on Track project, winner of the European Charlemagne Youth Prize 2013 last week in Aachen. At a time when the European integration project is being questioned, and the outlooks for many young people look bleak at best, AEGEE / European Students’ Forum has taken the initiative to question European youth on their vision of Europe and their role in it. As one of the six ambassadors, Mathieu Soete covered over 7,500 km by train to interview 200 young people.

From Brussels to Istanbul, many interviewed youth were indeed anxious about their current and future chances on the job market, both at home and abroad. Many don’t stand idly by however, and are further training themselves in youth organisations, on projects, through non-formal education. Yet they are aware that even this is often not enough, for non-formal education is still being insufficiently recognised, and it remains difficult for them to turn this invaluable experience into a meaningful job. The Youth Guarantee can play a role here, but this scheme can still be improved.

Moreover, for many the European integration project remains limited to politics and business, while on the ground many barriers remain before we can truly speak of a free movement of citizens. Some examples include the difficulties in transition from the French education to the German job market, or the mutual incompatibility of the Dutch and Belgian residence rules, or the drastic consequences of the fast integration of the new member states.

Few however, have lost their faith in a better Europe. Among youth the interest for European politics is low, and many indicate “not knowing what they are doing there in Brussels”, but this largely seems to be a reflection at the European level of the lack of interest or even aversion to national politics. Remains of communist regimes, insufficient attention for youth in political programmes, and a feeling of impotence to chance any of this, are the most commonly cited reasons for this disinterest.

But it is not yet too late. As European Parliament president Martin Schultz said last week: “The elections of 2014 will be crucial to regain the confidence.” Many elections and other events have already been called crucial and just as quickly have been replaced with other horizons, but we cannot afford to be discouraged by this. Each opportunity to turn the tide of Euroscepticism can be the decisive one. The European Students’ Forum is therefore industriously preparing the successor of its 2009 success project: Y Vote.

Many young people are more than ever concerned with the institutional discussions and the changes these could bring about. For many a stronger union is indispensable to get us out of this crisis, and a federal Europe seems a done deal: it is either integration or disintegration for this Erasmus-generation. Young people are most easily convinced by other young people, and it is therefore the task of these enthusiastic young Europeans to engage others and pull them along. This is exactly the aim of the Y Vote 2014 project as well, by again heading to the UK with a campaign on Euroscepticism.

But they cannot do this alone. Regardless of the number of projects and campaigns to stimulate young people’s interest in European politics and integration, political programmes and discourses must also be adapted to offer them a point of recognition and to demonstrate that Europe has a tangible — and mostly positive — influence in their daily life. Too often politicians at the national level blame Brussels for unpopular measures, and media report only on the negative aspects of European integration.

Young people are shouting that we can no longer continue like this, and they are prepared to do something about this. The least European policy-makers could do, is to actively support and guide these young people. We will gladly cooperate with this!

Adapted from Mathieu Soete’s blog.
Mathieu is Policy Officer for Sustainability in AEGEE-Europe.

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TUNZA: Youth goes for Sustainability /tunza-youth-goes-for-sustainability-2/ Thu, 21 Feb 2013 16:23:57 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=469 The UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) TUNZA International Youth Conference took place 10-14th February in Nairobi (Kenya), and it provided a platform for over 300 young people from 100 countries to come together to exchange information, best practices and most importantly, learn from each other.

European delegates at TUNZA Youth Conference

Participating in the TUNZA International Youth Conference allowed AEGEE to realize once more the enormous potential which young people have to act as change makers in the world. Our president Luis Alvarado represented AEGEE-Europe there and he discussed the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference and the Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals with the other delegates. For one week they shared experiences, attended panels and workshops with the professionals working in UNEP, and prepared recommendations directed to the Governing Council of UNEP and the Member States (Global Ministerial Environment Forum). AEGEE played a strong role in the preparation of the recommendations that you can find here:
http://www.unep.org/pdf/Tunza_Youth_Statement.pdf

During the TUNZA Youth Conference the GEO-5 for Youth report was launched: a youth friendly version of the GEO (Global Environment Outlook) that the UN creates every 5 years to make the information accessible to young people around the globe.

Read here what Iris Hordijk, speaker of AEGEE’s Environmental Working Group, thinks of the publication:

If you want to change the world you have to begin with yourself. This well known quote from Mahatma Gandhi is obviously the main idea of the report TUNZA: Acting for a Better World from the GEO-5 for youth. The aim of the book is to show that there is still hope and that inspiring successful stories in a green and sustainable direction are happening every day.

This colourful report is written by and for youth. The part of the book named Our world and its challenges today deals with the explanation of the Earth as a closed system. Trough the population increase and unsustainable economic development the pressure on our blue planet is increased. The big challenges according the atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity are explained and the knowledge about chemicals and waste increased after reading. Not only facts passing the revue, also are successful case studies presented together with the things you can do about the problems. Not only youth is dealing with the question how we can strive for a better world, in the politics it is also a point of debate. A description about the RIO+20 conference and the vague outcomes are discussed. Because of the vague outcomes from RIO+20 so far it is very important to act yourself! The tools and tips to contribute to a better world yourself are present as well. Do you want to spend 1 minute or 1 decade to change the world? It is up to you, but it is clear that it is necessary for the maintenance of our planet that the world has to change! Can you imagine a better point to start with yourself and the young generation?

You can check yourself downloading the GEO-5 for Youth:
http://www.unep.org/pdf/GEO_for_youth.pdf

AEGEE strongly encourages all European youth to find out more of the TUNZA youth network of UNEP, where you will be able to learn and empower yourselves to become youth environmental activists:
http://unep.org/tunza/

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