In a Europe dominated by quick-fire crisis response, it is increasingly important that the voices of European citizens be heard. The EU’s channel for citizens to make suggestions for the future of Europe, the Conference on the Future of Europe, has recently concluded. We want to continue amplifying young citizens’ voices!
The Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA) held the EP4U Final Conference: “Youth Perspectives on the Future of Europe” online on June 16.
Since January 2021, European Policies for You (EP4U) has implemented activities to raise awareness of EU policy-making and increase political participation of young European citizens. Building on university debates, high school talks, videos explainers engaging various MEPs, student paper competitions and social media campaigns, the Final Conference “Youth Perspectives on the Future of Europe” concluded the project by offering cross-cutting insights into four policy areas: climate and environment; employment and social policies; migration and asylum; and non-discrimination and protection of fundamental rights.
The conference was composed of two main panel discussions, which explored the interconnections between, respectively, social policies and fundamental rights, and climate and migration. These open dialogues brought academics and practitioners together with the four EP4U Student Contest winners to discuss young people’s vision for the future of Europe. The conference provided a space for the public to actively participate in discussing the work of the EU and sharing their views with decision-makers.
Opening Remarks (10:00-10:30 CET)
Panel 1 (10:30-12:00 CET): EU non-discrimination policies in the Western Balkans: the case of LGBTQI+ rights
- What are the mechanisms used by the EU to promote equal treatment and LGBTQI+ rights in the neighbourhood?
- How does the EU promote LGBTQI+ rights in the labour market?
- Is there any systemic local constrains which should be considered by the EU when implementing initiatives in favour of LGBTQI+ persons?
Panel 2 (13:00-14:30 CET): Migration and climate change: crosscutting effects and potential synergies for EU policy
- What are the main migration challenges related to climate change? How are movements of individuals affected?
- How does the EU frame the nexus of environmental changes and migration?
- Which kind of synergies could be developed within EU migration policies to foster the achievement of climate objectives?
Closing Remarks (14:30-15:00)
We are delighted to have hosted some of Europe’s leading academics from around the TEPSA Network as expert speakers at the EP4U Final Conference:
- Tom Chevalier (Researcher, Sciences Po CEE),
- Michaela Dénešová (PhD Candidate, Comenius University Bratislava),
- Emma Hakala (Senior Research Fellow, Finnish Institute of International Affairs),
- Evelina Staikova (Head of the Dept. of Political Sciences, New Bulgarian University).
All four have been a part of the EP4U project since the start, helping us to reach into the EU Member States and share discussions with young people across Europe. During the conference they moderated each of the panels, and fostered a cross-cutting discussion with the four EP4U Student Contest winners, who presented their visions for the future of Europe: Aron Bosman, Niccolò De Vita, Stevan Đurić, and Lilybell Evergreen.
The four EP4U expert speakers and student contest winners had the chance to discuss their visions for the future of Europe with practitioners from multiple EU Institutions. As such, the conference was their chance – and the chance for those who attended – to discuss future prospects for the European project with those who make key policy decisions in the EU:
- Myrthe Bovendeaard, European Parliament,
- David Prpa, General Secretariat of the European Council,
- Valentin Dupont, General Secretariat of the European Council.
In addition to discussions in our two main panels, the conference’s Opening Remarks were held by TEPSA Executive Director Mariam Khotenashvili along with Dr. Benjamin Tallis from the Hertie School. Closing Remarks were given by TEPSA Chairperson Lucia Mokrá and TEPSA Secretary-General Jim Cloos.
WATCH THE PANEL RECORDINGS
In the Opening Remarks, TEPSA Executive Director Mariam Khotenashvili welcomed Dr. Benjamin Tallis (The Hertie School) for a dynamic exchange on the impact of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine on the future of Europe. Arguing that the EU ought to change it’s attitude from one of ‘protective security’ to one of ‘progressive security’, Tallis called for the Heads of State and Government to display true vision for the future of the European project in his impassioned speech.
The first panel of the conference was entitled “EU Non-Discrimination Policies in the Western Balkans: the Case of LGBTQI+ Rights” and was built around the two winning EP4U Student Contest papers by Stevan Đurić and Niccoló de Vita. The panel was moderated jointly by Tom Chevalier (Sciences Po) and Michaela Dénešová (Comenius University in Bratislava). Stevan and Niccoló discussed their papers with Myrthe Bovendeaard, European Parliamentary Assistant to Kim van Sparrentak MEP.
The conference’s second panel was entitled “Migration and Climate Change: Crosscutting Effects and Potential Synergies for EU Policies” and was built around the two winning EP4U Student Contest papers by Aron Bosman and Lilybell Evergreen. The panel was moderated jointly by Emma Hakala (Finnish Institute of International Affairs) and Evelina Staikova (New Bulgarian University). Aron and Lilybell discussed their papers with David Prpa and Valentin Dupont, both from the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union.
The EP4U Online Final Conference was formally closed by TEPSA Chairperson Lucia Mokrá and TEPSA Secretary-General Jim Cloos. Their remarks focused on the role of youth engagement in building a bright future for the European project. Both were encouraged by the ideas presented by the EP4U Student Contest winners at the conference, and praised the warm reaction the papers received from policy-makers.