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Promoting inter-generational and inter-regional solidarity in an ageing continent, leaving no one behind
The contribution of young people is fundamental to consolidate European democracy and to meet the ecological, digital and social transitions while recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. This is why COMECE is proposing a “Catholic Youth Convention on the Future of Europe: Our Dream of Europe” to involve young people in the discussions and to design a future for the EU that matches their dreams, while answering to Pope Francis’ message for Europe.
During three online webinars on Thursday 3, 10 and 17 June 2021, the Catholic Youth Convention will bring together over 100 young people (18-35 year old). Together, they will reflect on some of the main challenges they experience today and formulate concrete proposals for the future of Europe.
Event reporti) General considerations In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis recalled the undervaluation of people considered ‘not yet useful’ such as the elderly. Young participants emphasized the need for an inter-generational dialogue at the EU level. They believe that initiatives should be further developed in order to encourage inter-generational living and communities, such as flat-sharing or voluntary activities. These initiatives would enable to create of both decent living and social bonds. They seek to ensure the strengthening of individuals, families and communities through sound public policies involving young and older people. Furthermore, some of them recalled the importance of the right to disconnect i.e., to find the right balance between their working hours and free time with family, friends or spiritual activities. In their exchange, some young people also brought the importance of a common day of rest, that should be further promoted at the EU-level. Participants shared their concerns about the rural-urban divide. They argued that there should be a better interconnectivity between urban centers and the countryside. It is essential to give support to everyone in different regions in order to promote equal opportunities for all people. ii) Recommendations a) Develop intergenerational platforms to share life experiences, bringing older and young people together, removing age barriers, promoting exchange and voluntary services, to support each other as ‘neighboors’ . b) Promote intergenerational living by raising awareness and adapting housing and fiscal policies: intergenerational flat sharing and community living should be particularly promoted , as well as tax reduction for intergenerational living. Promote policies for the reuse and reconversion of non-inhabited buildings with facilitated renting conditions for disadvantaged people. c) Encourage family-oriented policies to allow people to share time with their family, for instance by strengthening the need for work-life balance and promoting a common day of rest. Since parents are the first teachers of their children, and families the first school, families should be adequately supported in this task to promote equal opportunities for all. d) Promote independent living and offer spiritual support for retired people (E.g., Portugal). e) Develop a culture of gratuity and support the creation of hospitality networks between different parts of the EU territory to better welcome and integrate people coming from other regions, such as migrants. As we are all brothers and sisters, “it matters little whether my neighbour was born in my country or elsewhere” . f) Increase the interconnectivity between urban centres and rural areas, encouraging access for everyone to public transport, digital facilities and essential (health)care and social services, in partnership with relevant social stakeholders and the Church.
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