Conference on the Future of Europe in Ireland (Youth Panel)
We are pleased to invite young people between the ages of 18-30 to join us at a unique opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Europe, as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe process taking place across the EU.
We want you to take part in a youth panel to explore your thoughts on what the EU does well, what it should do, and what it needs to do better, in order to increase its capacity to act and to make it more democratic. After a short introduction, we’ll discuss these issues in small, moderated groups, before we come back together to explore our ideas together and put forward a vision for the EU’s future.
For us to identify with the EU, we need to see ourselves in Europe – in the people who make up the institutions, in the decisions taken and in the impacts on our daily lives. The voices of young people across Ireland is central to this conversation, so your participation is crucial.
These events will take place over Zoom and will be recorded.
Dá mbfhearr leat páirt a ghlacadh sa phróiseas seo trí mheán na Gaeilge, bí i dteagmháil linn ag firstname.lastname@example.org agus labhróimid leat faoi conas is féidir sin a dhéanamh.
Event reportConference on the Future of Europe in Ireland: Youth Online Panel. Thursday, 4 November 2021. Young people between the ages of 18-30 from a variety of different backgrounds met online on Thursday, 4 November 2021 to discuss their vision for the EU as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Participants focused on issues of importance to the future of Ireland and the EU, such as climate change and the circular economy, the digital transformation and mental health. Economy: Several participants from the online youth panel felt that EU funding should focus more on aiding local businesses and SMEs rather than large corporations. Others felt that the EU has an important role to play in larger projects and the creation of big infrastructure like rail that national governments would find difficult to do alone. Some young people would like to see a fairer distribution of funds towards social needs as well as industrial or economic areas. There was a call from participants to see our EU fishing quotas re-evaluated as frustration exists over the current state of play. There was also a desire to see conditions and funding favour local, small-scale fisheries to help rural communities and local economies. Climate Change and the Environment: There was a strong belief that the right to repair should be introduced at an EU level. This would mean that the onus would be on the manufacturing companies to repair products, which would hopefully in turn result in an improvement in the quality of products being produced, encouraging new circular economy business models. The group felt that the EU should incentivise private industry to further green businesses instead of penalising them through taxes, and that public buildings and energy intensive industries like data centres should get energy from renewable sources, creating the demand for the service here in the EU. Participants felt that more focus should be on creating manufacturing jobs here and expanding the renewable energy industry in Ireland and the EU so that we are not overly reliant on importing resources from overseas, which causes further emissions. One example raised was electric car batteries, which participants say should be produced closer to home, with safer materials and that it should be mandatory to recycle them after use. Contributors felt that farmers should be further incentivised to carry out more climate friendly practices and that CAP funding should be tied to lower emissions. Some participants felt that the EU is not doing enough to utilize nuclear energy, while others thought the focus should be on improving the accessibility of solar energy, as well as weakening Member States’ ability to engage in fracking or to import fracked gas. Members of the group thought that the EU should sanction countries who do not meet their climate goals. Participants from the youth panel felt that education on sustainability and the environment in schools is necessary to ensure long-lasting change for generations to come. Digital Transformation: When discussing the digital transformation, participants believed that to tackle digital poverty, we need to holistically address the problems associated with traditional forms of poverty. The youth panel strongly felt that the EU should introduce regulations to tackle disinformation and misinformation on social media and impose fines on companies that do not comply. Participants felt that both social media policy and GDPR regulations are complex areas that should be harmonised at an EU level, as different national policies only serve to further complicate matters. Support was shown for the creation of EU Cloud infrastructure that would be exclusively for European companies to improve our data protection. Concerns were raised about the dangerous potential uses of artificial intelligence and calls were made for the EU to ensure that existing regulations are enforced. Following the cyber-attack on the HSE earlier this year, participants felt that more resources need to be spent on improving our digital security, and sanctions placed on countries found to be funding or facilitating hackers. The youth group welcomed policies to allow remote working to continue, however repeated calls were made for improved Wi-Fi and broadband to be rolled out across the country and indeed the EU. Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law: The group had mixed feelings on whether EU funding should be linked to the rule of law, however many in the group felt that there should be a move towards qualified majority voting as opposed to one country being able to veto EU proposed policy. While the EU has laws and regulations in place to protect people’s rights, participants felt that Member States are not doing enough to enforce these in countries such as Poland, Hungary and France. These attacks on certain groups’ human rights were linked back to a lack of education. Some contributors believed that a bottom-up approach is needed, as some viewed this as a societal issue as opposed to a policy or legal one. The group of youth participants also highlighted national areas of interest where they thought the EU needed to step in such as the area of integration policy and providing better conditions, education and access to employment for people in Direct Provision. Health: These young participants strongly felt that urgent action was needed across the EU to provide mental health care to citizens. The youth participants viewed the situation as an international mental health crisis and urged the EU to take further action in Member States, despite health being a national competency. Contributors felt that there should be a harmonisation of standards across the EU when it comes to access to care and medications. Contribution from Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne TD: Speaking about the youth meeting, and the Conference on the Future of Europe, Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne TD said “The Presidents of the European Union Institutions have placed considerable importance on ensuring that the voices of younger Europeans are heard throughout the process, and I fully agree. We will only derive the full value from this exercise if the voices of Europe’s young people play a strong role in our discussions.” Conclusion: This youth panel placed a high level of importance on climate change and sustainability with many suggestions and ideas on how the EU can incentivise different industries and operate different practises to lower emissions and make activities more environmentally friendly. The group took a large interest in cyber security and data protection and called for the EU to act to protect citizens from false information and cyber hacks online. This panel of youth participants largely appreciated the rights and values we have as EU citizens. However, they felt that the EU needs to take a stand to protect these values and enforce the laws and policies that in theory are already in place to protect us.
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