EU Advocacy Meeting
on the 14th of April we attended an Advocacy Meeting organised by the European Youth Forum, where we met with other youth representatives form member organisations of the Forum. Members of the European Youth Forum are made up of National Youth councils from all over Europe (including non EU Countries) and International Non Governmental Youth Organisations (INGYO’s). Our discussion covered the Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta’s Presidency of the EU, the guiding questions for Structured Dialogue, and the Midterm Evaluation of Erasmus+.
Dutch Presidency- We spoke about the upcoming Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council meeting on the 30th May in Brussels,a and agreed the outcomes the Forum wanted from the meeting.
However, everyone seemed slightly concerned that the document focused entirely on “preventing and combating violent radicalisation”. Belgium’s French Speaking Representatives raised a concern that the document is not in line with youth participation as youth workers have a responsibility to support and inform young people when it comes to youth “radicalisation”. French Representatives also highlighted that the text is very intimidating for young people, with interpretation of the term “Radicalisation” focusing only on the negative connotations of radical action. Subsequently, we wondered how decision makers are going to encourage young people to engage, share their views, and participate in society, seeing as this aim seems to be lost in the paper. The text recognises youth work but not how youth policy reflects the youth. Everyone in the room disliked the idea of having levels of radicalisation to label young people.
In conclusion, we decided to start influencing decision makers on that matter by highlighting youth work as a crucial tool to help young people and advocating that radicalisation is a consequence, not a cause.
We were asked to contact our Ministry for Education and Youth Policy to find out their views on the youth radicalisation, and for individual organisations to think what they can do to get them on same page as us.
If you have any evidence, or experiences with youth radicalisation and wish to share this with us, please get in touch.
Slovak Presidency – Representatives from Slovakia were also present, and so we discussed briefly the plans for their Presidency. Topic for Youth during their Presidency is “developing talent of young people by expanding their skills” with a specific focus on participation in decision making. The Slovakian Representative elaborated that the work will be more research based.
France shared their consultation method with the attendees. In France, CNAJEP (the National Youth Council) reached 250,000 answers in one day during the last phase of consultation. To do this, they utilised the Main Stream Media. 12 public TV channels are participating in their SD, with some national TV channels supporting the work, therefore I asked them to give me their website so we can potentially think about using the same method.
Speech by Vice president of YFJ – Luis spoke to the meeting about the will of Governments to change things at a European level, and that this is our moment to guide them and achieve change.
Subsequently, Luis directed the future presidency national youth councils to start taking charge, as this is what has happened in the Dutch Presidency. However, it is obvious some national governments are less engaged, interested and informed about the matter, therefore Luis encouraged us to place a tool for SD, recognise who are key players in youth policy and to achieve the most out of the current cycle!
Evaluation of Erasmus+
We focused on how as National Youth Council’s can contribute to the evaluation report of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) which covers the years between 2014-2020. This review is conducted by the European Parliament and the Commission and will influence the budget set for post 2020. Therefore, we concluded that it is crucial for our interests to be taken into consideration in their 2020 Erasmus+ budget. On 3rd May the European Youth Forum are organising a meeting that will bring together the Commission, MEP’s and Youth National Councils to discuss the review and what young people want to see in the next budget.
Meeting with the Office of the UK Permanent Representative to the EU’s
The United Kingdom Permanent Representation to the European Union (UKRep) represents the UK in negotiations that take place in the EU, and during the afternoon we met with Lara Natale, Attaché Education, Youth, Culture, Audiovisual, Sport at UK Representation to the EU at the British Embassy. Laura was so welcoming and was an amazing person to meet and discuss with.
We spoke about several issues such as;
- How we can grab politician’s attention and engage effectively on a National level – Lara advised that the Cabinet Office is the most useful place to visit as they are the policy lead in regards to youth, and that we should also work with the National Youth Voice and Democratic Engagement Team for EU and International Law.
- Structured Dialogue and the UK’s upcoming Presidency – Lara explained that there is no real news yet as they are behind with presidency planning. Yet, they have spoken to Bulgaria and Estonia and have an overarching theme yet it is just at a very early stage. Potential topic is peer-learning. However, she made it clear that whatever result the EU referendum is, it is NOT going to impact to our presidency.
*Since the result of the EU Referendum, the UK will no longer be the Presidency country in 2017
- Education, and reliable information in regards to the EU Referendum – we spoke about the necessity of civic education for all and, young people having access to reliable information, especially in relation to political participation and the upcoming referendum.
- Presentation of the UKYA report “Young People’s Political Participation“ – we presented a copy of the report to Lara and she was very interested in the findings and our recommendations, especially those that target young people from minority groups.
- Mental Health provision– Lara spoke about the work currently being undertaken at EU level, focusing on cyber bullying and reducing side-effects digital media has on young people. This summer, a audit-legislative proposal will be launched to protect minors and update parental controls.
Meeting Commissioner Navracsics and Vice President Katainen & Evening reception for the 20th Anniversary of the European Youth Forum.
After our meeting with the UKRep, we spent few hours in a meeting with Commissioner Navracsics who has responsibility for Youth at the European Commission and Vice-President Katainen between 17:00-19:00pm.
Tibor Nauraciscs– European Commissioner, started his speech by acknowledging that Structured Dialogue must involve minorities, from deciding the topic to researching topics, creating the recommendations and seeing them through to implementation. Also, he stated that it is our role as Young Ambassadors to prevent exclusions, and to ensure young people are not treated as criminals in our society. We need young people to see, know what is democracy and freedom, education, volunteering, skills and youth workers.He also stated that “It is my role to connect young people to Europe, and Europe to young people”. Commissioner Navracsics stated that Erasmus+ has been a perfect way to connect young people to Europe since and promote common values.
Jyriki Katinen spoke about strategies to engage and involve young people especially in regards to participation in Youth Policy. He claimed that employment rate for women is improving, and 17 member states have reached their target of children leaving schools progressing on either to education or employment.
Regarding Erasmus+, at least 1 million participants have been supported especially those with disadvantaged backgrounds in space of 5 years. He stressed that education should not be cut from the government support.
Aida Hadzialic (Youngest Minister from Sweden)
Our last speaker was the youngest minister from Sweden! She was an amazing speaker and begun to talk about how had been a refugee but now she is in a position of power and influence. Her speech mostly focused on youth empowerment.
At the end I asked a question about the UK Youth Parliament’s national campaign, Tacking Racism and Religious Discrimination: “Recent terrorism events have left us all devastated. However, the long term side-effects of such events is a rise in racism and discrimination amongst people in our society. What has the Commission done, and what will they do in the future to reduce this?” The representative form the European Commission answered my question stating that they racism and discrimination is illegal at EU level, but the implementation of this is left for national governments to take on board.
To conclude, we celebrated the European Youth Forum’s 20th birthday with drinks and food with cake at their reception after the meeting! It was a pleasure to meet other organisations and have an opportunity to network.