The European Union needs renewal
For young people, Europe is no longer a project, but a reality of life. We owe a lot to European integration, have high expectations for a common future and stand up for Europe together. As youth associations in the German Federal Youth Council, we therefore have clear ideas about how the European Union must develop further.
That is why we welcome the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe on May 9, Europe Day. It is time for Europeans to formulate their concerns and visions together with civil society, experts and EU institutions in order to identify further developments and the corresponding need for action in various policy areas.
Unfortunately, central questions are still open at the beginning, which are crucial for the success of the conference from our point of view. One important aspect is the duration of the process. "Serious debates and effective participation need time, which is not sufficiently given in twelve months," says our president Tobias Köck. The year provided is clearly too short from our perspective. That is why we are advocating for an extension of the conference to the originally envisaged two years.
Furthermore, we very much regret that the conception of the conference does not draw on existing and grown structures. As German Federal Youth Council, we expressly support the EU institutions in their concern to involve young Europeans in the Future Conference. "In order to enable effective youth participation, young people must be able to act at eye level with the other participants. We have doubts that the activities for young citizens envisaged so far are suitable for this," says our board member Marius Schlageter.
In order to ensure sustainable participation with impact, the relevant interest groups such as youth associations, Youth Councils and the European Youth Forum must be involved in the conference on the future of Europe.
We expect from the Future Conference not only words, but visible reforms for a democratic, social, sustainable and future-proof Europe. Therefore, the conference must not be a simple citizens' dialogue. Rather, the European Council in particular must commit to implementing the emerging demands. For this we will engage in the coming months together with partner structures such as the European Movement Germany and critically accompany the next steps of the conference. In addition, we would like to motivate young people and youth organizations to participate in the conference.