Hello, your UK Young Ambassador to the European Youth Forum (YFJ) here. During April myself and my counterpart Nikita Harkin were in work mode as the April COMEM (Council of Members) was looming.
Two policy papers had been drafted by the YFJ:
The first, Inclusive Societies at Stake, was a document in reaction to the killings in Paris in January. Instead of laying individual blame, the document sought to look at how the attacks were a result of larger issues of discrimination in society.
The second, Quality Employment, was a document reacting to the Juncker Jobs Initiative. In the document, the YFJ called for quality jobs, apprenticeships and internships with a heavy focus on national governments implementing the Youth Guarantee.
First of all we met with our fellow representatives from National Youth Councils in the BBC+ region (BBC+ includes representation from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Netherlands, Luxembourg, England and Ireland) in Kecskemet, Hungary. The Hungarian Youth Council had an unimaginably hard time organising the meeting due to legal issues, and I would like to commend them on their efforts.
Along with discussing elections, policy papers and the various other documents that we were given by the YFJ; we had a meeting with Tibor Navrasci: the Commissioner for Youth, Education, Culture and Sports.
The main topic of discussion was who should deal with the issue of youth radicalisation; should it be addressed solely by the youth sector (the European Union’s position) or should it be addressed by wider society and a cooperation of government departments (the Council of Europe’s position).
Commissioner Navrasci defended the European Union’s position, stating that there was plenty of talent in the youth sector and cited the example of Sweden where the youth sector was taking a pioneering, and largely successful, approach to social integration.
Another topic we discussed was the exclusion of our Swiss colleagues from the EU Structured Dialogue Conference in Riga (links to blog from Riga and explanation of Structured Dialogue might be good here?) Commissioner Navrasci stated that he supported the inclusion of Switzerland in these Conferences but acknowledged that there was pressure within EU institutions calling for their exclusion.
After this meeting, we had a few days to prepare for the Council of Members in Brussels, Belgium. The rest of the UK Young Ambassadors joined us in Belgium and we utilised this time to meet with MEPs and the Flemish Youth Council (minus myself as I had managed to leave my passport in Edinburgh and so was running rather late) before Nikita and I went on to the Council of Members meeting.
There, the meeting was a success with all matters adequately discussed (with only seconds to spare) and strong, quality candidates elected to the Council of Europe’s Advisory Panel on Youth.
The YFJ Board gave us two big updates: firstly that the highly successful European Youth Event would continue, and that the location of the next Council of Members meeting man change due to concerns about human rights issues in Azerbaijan.
To finish, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow UK Young Ambassador Nikita Harkin for all the work she has done throughout her term and wish her well in the future. I would also like say farewell to Vladimir and Fanny from the Swiss National Youth Council, Wout from the Flemish Youth Council and Matthaus from the Polish Youth Council who have also finished their mandates.
I look forward to the upcoming UK Young Ambassador elections and am sure that a quality candidate will be selected by our members to represent the young people of the UK in the European Youth Forum.
Thank you for reading.