The Conference on the Future of Europe – a place for young people to raise their voice?

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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With the Conference on the Future of Europe coming to end, the question remains what  stays – will the ideas of citizens remain ideas? Will their input be given a space in the future of European politics? Will we start a new chapter in the history of the European Union?

Alexandra Huber is Project and Financial Officer at JEF Europe.

It is therefore especially important to give young citizens a voice – as we will shape the European Union of the future and what is decided today in politics will affect our lives for many years to come. Therefore, the Conference on the Future of Europe should not only focus on short term policy projects, but take into account what matters to promote Europe as the place where young people and civil society have a strong position.

In the past 15 months, I have coordinated the project Next Chapter Europe of  Young European Federalists, here we brought together more than 1500 young people through local consultations to discover the ideas of young people and learn about their their ideas and propose a Europe that is built on the voice of young citizens, aiming to create a common better future for everyone.

We discussed topics that are on the mind of young people and should be a priority on the agenda of the European Union – given it is this generation of Europeans who grew up in a world where we knew no internal borders until COVID hit, took the EU for granted as loyal community until Brexit happened and considered our future to be peaceful and could not imagine a war happening again so close to us until this year.

However, when we talked, the thoughts of the European Union were not negative or dark, but the EU was seen as a chance to improve the living conditions in the world and face global problems. The ideas and proposals for the CoFoE are based on the current problems youth is facing – a decent minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, free education, freedom of movement to study and work where you want, better conditions for cyclists and green mobility and more participation for young people in politics deciding on their future.

On a more general and abstract level; we and our participants hope that climate change will stay a top priority among European policies and the European enlargement will speed up, European democracy will be more united, with transnational lists and more direct citizen participation through interactive processes – such as a meaningful Conference on the Future of Europe.

The next years will show if the space promised to civil society and youth will be given to our generation or it will remain an illusion.

The Final Conference will be taking place on the 24th June 2022 in Brussels.

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