EU in the world
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Europe Day: ENI CBC Med Programme organizes online debate among young people from the Mediterranean area
Event report available
The event, to take place on the 10th of May, aims at highlighting topics of common interests for young people on both shores of the Mediterranean and their expectations vis-à-vis the European Union, in order propose ideas for the Conference on the Future of Europe. Each year on the 9th of May, the Europe Day is celebrated across Europe and beyond to mark the anniversary of the 1950 Schuman Declaration, which is considered to be the beginning of what is now the European Union (EU). In the framework of the 2021 edition of the Europe Day, the ENI CBC Med Branch Office for the Western Mediterranean, in collaboration with the Europe Direct Comunitat Valenciana (Spain), is organizing an online debate among young people from both sides of the Mediterranean Sea aimed to propose ideas to the Conference on the Future of Europe. The event, to take place on the 10th of May at 4 pm CET, aims at collecting the views of youngsters on their priorities for the future, their expectations towards the European Union and how they see the relations between the European Union and its Southern Neighbours in the context of the “New agenda for the Mediterranean” recently approved by the European Council. The debate is happening in a period still deeply marked by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic with limitations to social interactions and mobility. It is now time to build back better, taking into consideration the voice of young people in the economic recovery and green transition. Join us on the 10th of May to learn how the European Union works with its partners from the Southern Neighbourhood, get inspired by the stories of 6 youngsters from the Mediterranean area, engage into interactive discussions and share your ideas for a fruitful cooperation among Mediterranean countries. The event will be held in English and is dedicated to anyone interested in the EU integration process, with special focus on its external dimension.
Event reportThe 10th of May 2021, the ENI CBC MED Programme along with Europe Direct Comunitat Valenciana in Spain celebrated the Europe Day organising a fruitful discussion among young Mediterranean people. During 2 hours, 6 young people coming from different points of the Mediterranean debated on what are their priorities and expectations towards the EU. They see in the EU the guarantor of human rights, freedom of speech and gender equality but also claim for more actions in employment, environment, opportunities for youth, and conflict resolution. SOLIDARITY, OPENNESS AND MORE COOPERATION: STARTING POINT OF THE DEBATE The discussion started with Mr. Luis Miguel Padilla Bueno, the EU spokesperson in Arabic for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. He highlighted that the MENA region is the second youngest region in the world where half of the population is under 30. He took part in the debate to better understand their priorities and suggest what could be done to improve their situation especially regarding employment. The panellists are aged between 17 and 27. They come from all over the Mediterranean region. They are full of expectations but also frustrations. The youngest panellist, Bianca, a 17-year-old Spanish girl co-founder of Peace on climate initiative together with Haya, a Palestinian journalist, started the debate advocating for more solidarity between human beings but also towards animals and ecosystems. She asked for more respect towards the planet. Haya, 27 years old insisted on the fact that the EU should better support journalists in the MENA region. It is of utmost importance to learn about EU neighbouring countries from their own perspectives and not from European ones. Alonso, a 19-year-old Spanish guy opted for science. His first message to the EU is to focus more on cooperation when tackling science as he believes that science has great potential when it is done in cooperation. Yara, a 24-year-old Lebanese girl focuses on the importance to work together on common problems we are facing in both sides of the Mediterranean such as climate change, migration and lack of freedom of speech. Finally, Shaima, a 20-year-old Moroccan girl, whose parents emigrated to Spain, and İrem, a 20- years-old Turkish girl who currently lives in the Netherlands, both experience what it is to live abroad. Beyond family and friends, what they miss the most from their home countries is the sense of community and hospitality, something that the EU could import from these countries. They are all different and come from such diverse backgrounds, but they seem to share common values: openness and accepting the others as they are. The discussions go around the following topics and proposals: BAN UNPAID INTERNSHIPS AND IMPROVE THE TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING WITH THE NEW DEMANDED SKILLS Finding a job is one of the main priorities among young people. They are accepting unpaid internships as employers ask for lots of experience to recruit. This strategy is not sustainable and acceptable anymore, and makes these young people become a burden for their families, as they still need to be sustained as they do not have incomes despite they are working. Many recently graduated students were not able to do an internship during the last year and a half, due to the pandemic. Most of the speakers shared their common feeling of frustration and unfairness to work for free. One of the proposals that young people would make to the EU is to work towards banning unpaid internships and providing support to acquire new skills to adapt to the new reality and digitalisation of jobs. This will require to modernise the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) offer across the EU and the Mediterranean region. TAKE ACTION TO ACHIEVE RESULTS IN THE SHORT TERM TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE Most of the speakers agreed that thanks to the covid-19, the world realised that we can reduce the causes of global warming. During the worldwide lockdown last year, gas emissions have been reduced. This should encourage governments to make a global effort as this crisis has proved that what would seem impossible did happen. We have demonstrated that we can stop the planet once, we can reset the system. We can do it again, and we can start the recovery with increased sustainability standards. In this sense, Alonso highlighted the idea to set feasible goals for the short term that we can achieve now. Some are tired of hearing “2050 goals” when we need to start acting today. In line with this proposal, Bianca calls for a joint commitment towards a Mediterranean sustainable model of tourism. She also proposes to the EU to make all peace missions and neighbouring actions in southern countries more focused on environmental projects and tax European companies which relocate in countries with lower environmental standards. Boushra Barakat from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon raised the issue of construction waste and on the importance of having an efficient data collection system unified among the countries as well as a common regulation on waste management. TO OLDER GENERATIONS: WE WANT TO BE SEEN AS EQUAL INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE OPINIONS AND CAN CREATE CHANGE When tackling youth expectations towards national governments and more specifically addressing the European Commission and Parliament, Alonso, Shaima and İrem, who are members of the European Youth Parliament want to be taken more seriously by their older fellows. They are enthusiastic about the Conference on the Future of Europe as they were looking forward for such an initiative. They will be happy the day in which young people (under 30) will be members of Parliament because they believe that we can´t legislate about youth without working with them. They see themselves as more open to change and less affected by cultural traditions compared to the older generation. FROM EU NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES: IT IS A MATTER OF PRIORITIES AND WE WANT MORE ACTION FROM THE EU Youth unemployment, climate change and more equality between generations in political representation are among youth priorities but depending on where you live, these priorities remain less urgent when you face human rights violations, lack of freedom of speech and simply when your survival is at stake. Haya ranks youth priorities differently and ask the EU to go beyond condemning violations of human rights. Most of the panellists claimed for more direct actions from the EU to assure stability in their neighbouring countries. At the same time, they see some conflicts coming from decades ago as a burden that leads to nowhere. They don’t feel engaged by these conflicts of older generations and think it’s time to get over and go a step forward. DOZENS OF PARTICIPANTS POSTING THEIR IDEAS IN A COMMON WHITEBOARD: TIME TO PROPOSE. The last part of the event was intended to be a space where all attendees could express their wishes for improving their lives in the EU and the Mediterranenan region. By using the collaborative platform Jamboard, participants could enter in a virtual whiteboard composed of 5 sections (correlated to 5 of the topics proposed by the Conference of the future of Europe) in which they could post their proposals shaped as post-its. 75 ideas were posted on the common platform and were subsequently analysed and resumed by the moderators of the event. In the section ECONOMY, JUSTICE AND JOBS; the main demands were about a renovation on the Techincal and Vocational Education & Training, developing better dual degree programs, education systems more linked to the job market and empowering networking, with more exchange programmes between Northern and Southern Mediterranean countries. Finally, ban the unpaid internships would make justice for this generation. In the HEALTH section, young people (or the young generation) demand to watch out for women rights in health-related areas, a better system for visiting doctors and universal health care, assuring universal health coverage for migrants in the EU through a common instrument. Waiving patents for vaccines is crucial so that all countries with the capacity to produce vaccines can do it, thus making them more accessible across the world The EU IN THE WORLD section included lots of interesting proposals; the youth wants closer relationships between the EU and Mediterranean countries with cooperation projects. They claim for a unique single voice speaking on behalf of the EU, and not 27 different ones. This applies specially to fields like health, security, employment and migration. They also ask the EU to stand by human rights in a stronger position, reacting to those countries who violate international law or act in violence against other countries. The proposals under CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENT were focused on a stricter implementation models/legislation on sustainability and circular economy practices by the EU, with a common legislation. It means to restrict delocalising factories to third countries where environmental legislation isless regulated. We also need more support for environmentally friendly enterprises, to make sure they can compete in the markets. Finally, under OTHER IDEAS section, the youth claimed for more cooperation with third countries, for a better understanding and enhancing stronger relationships and guaranteeing peace. This should be accompanied by policies to shape the EU as a free area without internal boundaries. They also asked the EU to play a more active role in gender equality and women empowerment, but also to fight against gender violence which has increased during the pandemic. From their side, they spoke out. Now, the ball is in the EU´s court. Hopefully, they will take them into account to shape the future of Europe and its´ neighbours. Note: Most of the proposals raised in the event were submitted to the Conference on the Future of Europe, in their correspondent topics. (health, jobs, etc.) However, this event was created in the topic "EU in the world" and can only be linked to ideas of the same topic. To discover the other ideas, please visit the profile of the editor of this event.
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