Students attending the 2019 Your Europe, Your Say (YEYS) event last week voted for a range of proposals to be put to the European Parliament.
Your Europe, Your Say, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and celebrating the 10th anniversary of its inception in 2009, was held on 21 and 22 March with the goal of prioritising the voices of young people in decision making in the lead-up to the forthcoming European elections. 99 high school students aged 16 and 17 representing 33 schools, one from each of the EU’s 28 Member States and the five EU candidate countries – Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey – attended the event: 1038 schools had applied to attend the youth politics event. While students from the UK will be unlikely to be able to vote in future European elections, including those scheduled for 2019, due to Brexit, the EESC has expressed its wish to maintain ties with British civil society once the UK has left the EU; so British students were invited to attend the event.
Students engaged in discussion about the EU elections, focusing on three overarching questions:
- How can representative democracy be strengthened in the future?
- What political engagement is possible beyond the European elections and how can you participate?
- How can voter participation in the EU elections be improved?
Of the 10 recommendations put forward by attendees at the youth politics event, four were selected to be presented to Parliament:
- No Education, No Vote: a compulsory education programme to be deployed in schools across the EU, providing citizens with essential information on the EU before they vote in May;
- EU&U.eu, an educational website providing information on the EU and its electoral process, using social media and multimedia content to raise awareness of issues pertaining to the elections;
- Europe E-VOTE, which would make election day a national holiday in all the Member States and promote electronic voting; and
- From You to EU, a scheme which would connect politicians with social and campaigning movements so they can work together to find solutions to pressing issues.
EESC President Luca Jahier said: “We have to follow the example of Greta Thunberg, who was capable to mobilise a great number in a short time using a direct language. Please engage in this fight, be provocative, as you are fighting not only for your own future, but also for our future.”
Isabel Caño, EESC Vice-President for communication, told the students: “We are proud to share your ideas, your dreams, your enthusiasm and your solutions in an institution like the EESC, where we all learn to negotiate as a way to reach consensus.”