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Conference on the future of Europe: feedback on five proposals for young people

After a year of hard work, the approximately 800 European citizens taking part in the Conference on the Future of Europe have delivered their verdict. A total of 49 proposals were presented to the European Parliament on 9 May for Europe Day. Among them, measures that directly concern students, apprentices, in short, youth.

The bet was met: in March 2021, representatives of the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission inaugurated the establishment of the Conference on the Future of Europe. A year later, on May 9, 2022, the conclusions were delivered to them.

A total of 800 “randomly selected” citizens took part in this “transnational, multilingual and inter-institutional exercise in deliberative democracy”., says the report. Nine themes were discussed: the economy, social justice and employment, education, digital transformation, European democracy, values ​​and rights, climate change, health, the European Union in the world and the migration.

The younger generation also had its say. In each panel, a third of the citizens had to be between 16 and 24 years old. Also, on the 49 proposals and the 320 measures adopted, about ten directly concern young people.

1. Involve young people in decision-making

More consultations, dialogues, debates with citizens and in particular the youngest, this is what the Conference on the future of Europe is aiming for. Young people, including young people aged 10 to 16, must be able to express themselves in the democratic process.

A digital platform could be set up in particular to allow them to “share their ideas, ask questions to representatives of the European institutions and express their point of view on important European issues as well as on legislative proposals”.

The Conference also intends rely on local youth councils and wants a closer link between national governments and youth organizations “to determine their needs” and carry out policies.

Another measure that was also debated in France at the time of the presidential election: the right to vote at 16 for the “elections to the European Parliament” which “along with a strengthening of citizenship and EU education, deserves to be debated and considered. National political parties should ensure that they also place younger candidates on their lists for the European Parliament elections.

2. Democratize knowledge about Europe

So many proposals that require above all to make young people want to participate. The Conference agrees that the European institutions should “use more accessible language and avoid bureaucratic jargon in their communications. (…) Special efforts should be made to reach out to young people on social media, but also through youth movements and various ‘ambassadors’ (organizations and individuals) who explain the European project”.

This could also involve common modules “to be taught in all Member States” concerning European history, democratic processes or EU values.

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3. Harmonize the recognition of diplomas, skills and learning

With regard to education, the Conference also makes some recommendations. The Bologna process had already enabled a real rapprochement of education systems in Europe in 1998 by introducing the LMD system (bachelor-master-doctorate) and ECTS (credits which allow the recognition of diplomas in Europe) but it would now be a question of going even further.

The Conference proposes to “to coordinate the level of all the different educational programs in the European Union and to create closer links between the education systems, in particular by means of the equivalence of diplomas”. This would facilitate mobility and access to employment throughout Europe.

And beyond obtaining mutual recognition of diplomas and training, the issue is also at the level of learningnot yet sufficiently appreciated and offered between EU countries.

The Conference is also considering theintroduction of a European certification on digital skills.

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4. Promote employment to limit the drain of talent

These educational measures must then promote access to employment throughout Europe. But not only. Other recommendations are expected to give a boost: this involves financial assistance for businesses, financial support for young entrepreneurs and self-employed or by Strengthening the Youth Guarantee whose aim is to improve “the access of young people under 30 to a good quality offer relating to a job, continuing education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship”.

The objective is above all to limit the brain drain. Especially for students in health and life sciences. “Networking and exchange programs should be developed, such as an Erasmus for medical schools(…) to retain talent in Europe and to enable young professionals to broaden their knowledge and gain professional experience.”

The Conference nevertheless warns about the quality of internship and job mobility that could be offered to the youngest within Europe. She proposes banning unpaid internships and ending minimum wages for young peoplea provision deemed to be discriminatory in relation to labor law.

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5. Ensure the well-being of the young generation

As a result of the health crisis, the precariousness of students has been revealed to everyone. The Conference on the Future of Europe therefore stresses the importance of guarantee “a reasonable standard of living, including access to social protection and housing” for the youngest. Affordable housing that cannot be achieved without EU funding.

All these proposals are now in the hands of the European leaders who will have to follow up on the report without the deadlines being clearly defined… Case to follow.

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