Resolution on democracy (YDE Congress 2018)

The national interests often take over the common European ones, leading to a lack of unity and commitment to a solid and shared supranational Project.
Additionally, Democracy, Human Rights and legality, which we consider as the main assets of the European Union, have been violated in recent years.
Therefore, sovereignty has become one of the main issues to be addressed, understanding it as the right of the citizens to decide their own future and political, economic and social destiny. Indeed, the concept of sovereignty must be approached in conjunction with the notion of democracy. We cannot accept that citizens still have no access to sovereignty in a society that demands greater political and social participation. We strongly oppose any model of governance that prevents citizens from taking an active role in it.
In this sense, Young Democrats for Europe stand for shared sovereignty between the European Union and citizens in a multilevel governance framework. In fact, Democracy being a main pillar of the legitimacy of the European project and, therefore, Young Democrats for Europe show their fierce commitment towards the democratic values of the EU: equality, inclusion, diversity, cohesion, tolerance and respect.

Resolution on Identity, Culture and Education (YDE Congress 2018)

Strengthening European values and shared identity through culture and education

We, Young Democrats for Europe, see growing populist movements and Euroscepticism as a threat to European values and democratic societies. We consider the best way to address those challenges is through Education and Culture to improve open mindedness and develop multicultural comprehension.

Strengthen European shared identity

Our modern European societies are the result of a common history and not the result of a sum of single national narratives, we feel it is necessary for young Europeans to become aware of this reality. And what places would be more appropriate than schools to ensure a historical transmission and a citizen awakening?

Inexpensive and symbolic, history textbooks co-constructed between European countries may be an appropriate response. Recognizing the specificities of each culture, this manual may develop a transnational perspective of the relations between countries in order to propose a common and enriched History to high school students who could then better understand each national vision.

Now in a context of renewed internal tensions on the continent and in the face of the emergence of populist political forces, it is more necessary than ever to carry out this project.

In line with school education, Europe Day must be a crucial moment in the education of young Europeans. We propose to make this Day special in European schools in particular with special events on European History and values.

Improve mobility across Europe

Geographic mobility rates within EU countries and between EU countries are around one percent, which is twice lower than mobility rates in the US, Canada or Australia.

We know however that geographical mobility can be a powerful tool to fight youth unemployment and reinforce the European cohesion. We should also notice that today young people moving to another EU countries are rather well-educated and come from wealthy origins, which are less likely to suffer from long unemployment periods. Our challenge is therefore to develop geographical mobility for all young Europeans.

In past decades, Europe launched several programs to ensure Young Europeans are able to get education or work experience abroad. Former Leonardo program, current Erasmus+ and Comenius actions managed to increase awareness on intra-European
mobility for a short period of time, and lowered barriers to move abroad to study or work. But more should be done.

We advocate for new initiatives to be launched Europe-wide. We aim first at increasing support from the Erasmus program to associations. Young Europeans are engaged in many associations to lead and carry out projects in different fields from sport to poverty mitigation. Those young leaders should benefit more from EU action to foster youth commitment across the continent.

Second, we would like to set a common framework for secondary school’s final exam in order to initiate convergence in Europe for access to higher education and professional education.

Third, we think time has come to launch a renewal of the so-called “European classes” initiated by public authorities. More Europeans should take part in such classes and spend a semester in another European country before they turn 18.

Build a common cultural policy for young people

Since 1992, culture is a European competence. It is therefore very important in the process of European construction: it makes it possible to think of it as a global project and not only as the addition of national perspectives. Art and culture have a prominent role to increase the sense of belonging to a community, and ensure social integration, economic development, equity and inclusion. That’s why it makes sense to promote it at the European scale.

It is necessary to make culture accessible for as many people as possible. For that, on one hand, it could be interesting to connect territories in which culture is not always accessible.

First, like the European capitals of culture in terms of selection, we could imagine traveling exhibitions from the largest European museums in medium-sized city areas that do not have internationally known museums and thus give a new impetus to the local artistic community.

In parallel, long-term partnerships can also be created between different urban areas and more rural ones, thus bringing internationally renowned artists to areas that would otherwise not have had access to that, and reciprocally publicizing works that would not have been otherwise. For this, an European impulse would be relevant.

On the other hand, we have to admit that Eurovision is currently the only time of the year when Europeans find themselves side by side around their television. That is why we could imagine the creation of a European media dedicated to youth, which would raise awareness of our common membership while showing the richness of the diversity of our different nations.

Finally, a third proposal could be the creation of a European “culture voucher” that could be distributed to 18-year-olds through a system of partnerships with different cultural institutes allowing them to access a cultural offer for free. This would promote access to cultural practices of various kinds for all young Europeans: opera, theater, but also cinema and concerts.

These three proposals are therefore intended to raise the European public’s awareness of culture, even outside large urban areas, and also to sensitize the youth to the awareness of the richness that exists within the European Union.

2019 elections: The end of old-school ‘politics as usual’?

The countdown to the next European Parliament elections has begun. They are an opportunity to change the way we do politics in Europe, to become more inclusive, turn under-representation into equal representation and ultimately increase the trust in our political leaders. Will European political parties accept the challenge? Luis Alvarado writes.

Luis Alvarado is the president of the European Youth Forum*.

Unsurprisingly, youth voices are already leading the way.

In a powerful and forward-thinking move, European political party youth organisations from across the political spectrum have come out strongly in support of the same goal: to create a more transparent, open and inclusive democracy.

The path we need to take to achieve this goal by the upcoming 2019 election is so indisputable that it is supported by a joint statement of the widest possible range of youth political parties; all of whom I am proud to call members of the European Youth Forum and to represent. We are breaking the cycle of how to do ‘old-school politics’.

So listen up and take note:

The answer lies in the empowerment of the current and future generations of young people, to not only have their voices heard in politics but also to be fully engaged in all aspects of decision making.

While there will be many crucial debates to come, one thing that can be universally agreed on is that for the European project to survive and thrive, young people must be at the core. This is the first pro-European generation by birth.

A generation that knows no borders or barriers and understands that the challenges of this era can only be solved together. Migration, terrorism, inclusive and resilient societies, the future of work and the digital revolution are challenges that no nation can find solutions to on its own.

Instead, they need to be tackled regionally and globally. Young people understand this.

It’s no secret that across Europe, young people are less likely to participate in traditional manifestations of democracy, including voting in elections. However, the ‘apathetic youth’ stereotype is a myth that has already been debunked time and time again. Young people have proven themselves to be active in society, engaged and ready to create change.

We take action on issues that directly impact us and stand up for causes that we believe in. We saw that in the Scottish referendum and the UK general election – where young people said “enough!”. So no more excuses.

If political parties want to be responsive to new social movements, we encourage them to work with young people: to take account of them in their manifestos, target them in their policies and put more young people forward in elections.

Let’s start with the integration of a youth perspective. Simply throwing in some statistics now and again on youth unemployment doesn’t count. Parties need to really reflect the realities of young people in Europe and to make issues facing youth a real priority.

This means actively reaching out to young people and ensuring that young voices are meaningfully included. Placing more young candidates in electable positions, for example, has the potential to promote youth turnout and also gives voters new choices with much needed fresh perspectives and approaches.

Political party youth organisations are united in demanding that political systems, both at the national and European level, ‘youth up’ and become much more accessible to all. There is so much potential to channel citizen engagement beyond traditional voting including the opportunities presented by digitalisation, such as e-governance and e-democracy.

We don’t want to be only at the receiving end of strategies and actions, we want to be partners in developing them.

We need our political leaders to think ahead: to invest in the personal and social development of young people and society. Introducing citizenship education that allows each and every young person to develop the skills and knowledge needed to become informed, responsible and critical citizens is key to safeguarding our democracy.

The Erasmus+ programme offers amazing opportunities to contribute to the personal, social, political and economic development of youth and their communities. Imagine if all young people had the chance to experience these benefits? SPOILER ALERT: We’ve pledged to increase its budget by 10 with our #ERASMUSx10 campaign.

The sooner Europe recognises youth as a resource for transformative change, the better. We’ve had enough of being left out of decisions that will directly impact our lives. Young people’s future has already been put at risk by short-term thinking and unsustainable solutions.

Today’s economic and political system does not work for our planet or for people, especially young people. We need to be ambitious in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and we need Europe to be a leader in combating climate change in Europe and globally.

Political parties rarely come together to join forces for a common cause. However, the next European Parliament elections in 2019 have to be more than ‘politics as usual’. Youth organisations have recognised this fact and have shown themselves to be ready and willing to work towards a stronger European future together.

For political parties and candidates to write off young generations, or ignore this joint call for action, would fail not only for youth but democracy as a whole.

*The op-ed was published in Euractiv on the 7th of Februay (https://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/opinion/2019-elections-the-end-of-old-school-politics-as-usual/) endorsed by European Liberal Youth (LYMEC), Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG), Young Democrats for Europe (YDE), Young European Federalists (JEF), European Democrat Students (EDS), International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY), European Free Alliance Youth (EFAy), Youth of the European People’s Party (YEPP), Young European Socialists (YES) and International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY).

YDE and LYMEC welcome an open future of wealth, sustainability and innovation entrepreneurship

We, the young liberals and democrats, have insofar enjoyed a European continent open to travel, trade, studying, working and living wherever opportunities are best. Binding our economies and societies together has guaranteed peace, secured the European leadership in the world and furthered the rights of the individual. Young people need to be the guarantors of the values of human rights, democracy and transparency that set the foundation for European cooperation. At the face of disagreement on small scale, the EU debate has to roll back to its core values and the four freedoms.

Digital change, entrepreneurship and fair labour market

We young liberals and democrats think the EU needs to take a courageous position on how to reform the labour market, where entrepreneurship is encouraged and technological advances are considered an opportunity. We think that the EU should make sure there is no room for exploitation on the labour market. We think the EU should also make sure there is no breach of legal contracts within the labour market. The digital transformation of the economy is the heritage of our generation, it is the outcome of technological breakthroughs that open new opportunities, and it is up to us to seize them to the fullest. There is no changing the path of development of the market, rather we young liberals and democrats need to accommodate and create flexibility at the face of change, including improvement of conditions for start ups and easing the transition from obsolete jobs to new ones.

Press freedom and ethics

According to us young liberals and democrats, now is the time to tackle fake news and cyber propaganda, coming from all directions, with the goal to increase transparency and citizens’ decision-making powers. In this regard, we young liberals and democrats actively promote and defend press freedom, and press for institutions that assess that every freedom is accompanied by requirements regarding ethics. The young generation sees the need for ensuring education in independence of information and the universal respect of ethics, and the role of Social Media in spreading false information should not be underestimated as well.

Populism, rhetoric, getting the message out to citizens and youth in leadership

We, the young generation will advocate for a new fact-oriented rhetoric in the fight against populism, with a focus on the democratic credentials and the aim to reach the general citizen. We call on the EU institutions to outline a roadmap to encourage and assist member states in setting up programmes to improve critical thinking skills in an online context in order to counter disingenuous content. The EU, as a democratic union, is a value in its own and a method for regional decision-making. Upholding credibility of the institutions is therefore of utmost importance.  Young people are not only the future EU leaders but are also the leaders of today, so the EU should invest more in strengthening structured dialogue on all levels of government: local, national and international.

Cyber threats, terrorism and defence

These information challenges, along with terrorism, stress the need for increased security cooperation and cyber security at home. Long-standing partners are changing their position towards the EU and these changed circumstances create the basis for deepened defence cooperation, starting with military procurement and enhanced intelligence sharing and increased military cooperation with the EU neighbourhood policy countries. For that reason and in order to strengthen the defence cooperation it would be convenient to have a common asylum system, as well as a proper European border control agency. We the young liberals and democrats believe in safeguarding the privacy and integrity of European citizens and standing up against any attacks on internet freedom and civil liberties.

Trade, sustainability and global opportunities

We young liberals and democrats believe in fair trade and in a priority for green and sustainable choices as well as a long-term view on equal opportunities to entrepreneurship and trade globally. When populists promote protectionism, we the young liberals and democrats want to see an open trading Europe. We call on the EU to continue to negotiate new bilateral and multilateral trade agreements to stimulate economic cooperation. We believe the EU must be at the forefront of green growth in all sectors and adopt regulations that regard the long-term consequences of our choices including a specific, comprehensive plan for decarbonising the European energy mix. We young liberals and democrats demand openness of negotiations of trade agreements and ask decisionmakers to communicate better as citizens have shown a lack of trust in the agreement processes. Free and fair rules-based trade agreements, guided by the basic rules in the EU treaties should always be the basis for agreements. Human rights, labour and environmental standards need to be guaranteed in the trade agreements also in the future. Trade agreements guarantee the market competition and reduce protectionism, while at the same time also cementing universal values and peace.

European Youth Convention: Youth is key to changing the EU!

150 representatives of youth organisations from 38 countries summoned at the European Parliament Strasbourg in March 2017 to develop the foundation of a better Europe. Amongst them our general secretary, Asier Areitio. The European Youth cannot stay still during this important moment.

It is also important to highlight that EDP played an important role with a financial support to the organisers.

The convention aimed at drafting a European Citizens´ Constitution, in order to enhance the power of the Union, and to change the model we have now. The main idea was to create a more federal Europe as the current model is already outdated. Young representatives’ work was based on collaboration, cooperation and exchange of ideas within small groups of around 14 people, with different backgrounds, from scholars to young politicians, or NGO members.

Asier focused his work on “Home Affairs and Security”, “Economic & Social model” and “Rights and Freedom” issues and is satisfied with the outcomes of this event: the drafted constitution will be sent to EU politicians.

You can read the Constitution here: http://www.youthconvention.eu/european-youth-convention-citizens-constitution.php

Credit: European Youth Convention/Joël Hellenbrand, 2017

Asier at the European Parliament
Asier at the European Parliament
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YDE is the youth wing of the European Party.We embrace the key role of democratic principles, underlined in the Lisbon Treaty and shrined in our political belief: democracy, freedom, equality, participation, sustainability and solidarity.

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