To tackle the low levels of youth political participation, 210 young people and policy-makers from across Europe came together at the EU Youth Conference on “Empowering young people for political participation in democratic life in Europe” in Riga on 23–26 March. EFIL participated again as a delegate in the conference, which took all the responses from consultations and made them into Joint Recommendations through working groups and plenary sessions. Charlotte Klinting (Denmark) attended again on behalf of EFIL according to her mandate, and Eliza Popper (Hungary) and Dulio Santos (Portugal) were again part of the facilitators team.
Joint recommendations were drawn up as a result of plenary sessions and workshops taking into account the suggestions made by about 40.000 young Europeans who took part in the broad consultation process known as the Structured Dialogue carried out four months prior to the conference. The issue of youth political participation will be brought forward for a high-level policy debate of the EU Youth Ministers at the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council on 18 May 2015.
When organising the conference, the Latvian government took up the call from delegates to use alternative forms of participation media, and used live polls for people to express their opinions during plenaries, and discussing the various ways young people use to show their opinions, which do not fit with the traditional system of simply voting. Silvia Costa, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education in the European Parliament, echoed the exasperation young people feel when being talked about as a cost, rather than an investment and as the future, rather than the present. She also acknowledged the fact the intercultural learning is crucial as a solution to the current threats to the European society.
The results of the consultations were made into recommendations, which are divided into the following topics:
- Create a Culture of Participation At School
- Involving young people in political decision-making
- Enhancing policy makers’ engagement and commitment with young people
- Strengthening the role of youth work for political empowerment of all young people
- Developing local and direct democracy
- Increasing synergies and cooperation between different actors
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Now the Structured Dialogue enters its 3rd phase:we are gathering feedback from policy makers and youth organisations on the recommendations for youth empowerment for political participation!
We are collecting information from our own members to know how much the recommendations drafted mirror the needs at national level and therefore ensure that recommendations become as effective as possible when they reach the Council of Ministers and become Resolutions. To help EFIL in this upcoming stage, please fill out this form and share it among your AFS organisations!
Also, together with other international organisations that are part of this process, EFIL is planning to be part of a joint event addressing European level policy makers and other stakeholders to get feedback on the recommendations.
The feedback gathered will be used for the upcoming conference in Luxembourg in October, where the final resolutions will be formulated and presented to the EU Council of Minister.
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