Reporter's Notebook Top

EU youth want more representation

Ideas for resolving important issues are mapped out. (Kateryna Kvasha/YJI)

Brussels, BELGIUM – More than 100 young voters from all EU member states, candidate countries and the UK gathered Wednesday to debate the issues that matter the most to young people today. 

Youth delegates at the conference in Brussels. (Kateryna Kvasha/YJI)

The youth conference Your Europe, Your Say! 2024 was held within the Civil Society Week in the run-up to the European Parliament elections aiming to encourage more youth to engage in democracy building and to vote in June.

Leaders at the conference stressed the motto for the European Parliament elections this year to the youth: “Use your vote.”

The conference started with opening remarks and a Q&A session with Alice Stollmeyer, Founder and executive director at Defend Democracy; and Davide Ferrari, head of research and partner of 

Youth delegates listening during the conference. (Kateryna Kvasha/YJI)
Scratching out ideas. (Kateryna Kvasha/YJI)

During the day, participants divided into smaller groups identified the biggest societal and economic issues young people experience.

Corruption, weakness in the education system, migration-related issues, propaganda and disinformation, free access to reproductive rights, high taxation, ecoactivism problems, and the housing crisis were among the most popular.

After six hours of workshops, participants came up with potential solutions for all the above issues and later voted for their top five ideas to be presented to Oliver Röpke, president of the European Economic and Society Committee, and to keynote speaker Sophia Eriksson Waterschool, who works on education, youth, sport and culture with the European Commission’s Directorate General.

It’s time to vote. (Kateryna Kvasha/YJI)

After a group of youth presented the top five ideas, they took another vote to determine their main issue.

The youth at the conference determined their main issue: creating youth quotas for the EU Parliament to solve the problem of underrepresentation of youth in European political life.

During the closing youth plenary, Röpke highlighted the diversity of all the suggested ideas and commented on the importance of democracy.

“It’s not enough to go to the vote every four or five years,” Röpke said, stressing that democracy is only complete when people regularly participate.

As the Ukrainian delegate, I liked meeting the other delegates from the EU candidate states because these connections will help ensure a smoother integration into the EU in the future. Not only did the event give us a chance to be heard, but was a great space for networking and intercultural exchange.

Kateryna Kvasha is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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