(Source: European Committee of the Regions)
As the European Year of Youth 2022 is soon reaching the halfway mark, debates at the CoR’s SEDEC Commission meeting on 21 June focused around youth policy. Mainstreaming the youth dimension across EU policies, improving the young people’s participation in democratic life and promoting the social inclusion of vulnerable young people into the educational system are among the key elements of an upcoming opinion which will be prepared by Tine Radinja (SI/The Greens), Mayor of Škofja Loka.
According to the rapporteur, the European Year of Youth should leave a long-lasting legacy by involving young people in the design, leadership, implementation and assessment of policies at EU, national, regional and local levels. Mr Radinja highlighted the importance of local and regional authorities for the success of the EU Youth Strategy and the contribution they can bring through education and culture to foster an inclusive society for young people. He pointed out that the pandemic and the insecurity of labour market are having an impact on the mental health of young people.
Many speakers voiced their concerns over the low turnout in recent elections, especially among young people. Lowering the voting age to 16 was among the recommendations from the floor. Mayor of Cluj-Napoca Emil Boc (RO/EPP) suggested that this could be done first in local elections across Europe, allowing young people a first contact to democracy. However, obviously this competence remains at Member State level.
Kieran McCarthy (IE/EA), Member of Cork City Council, welcomed the European Youth Forum’s proposal for an EU Youth Test to assess the impact of any new EU proposals for young people. The European Commission representative from DG EAC confirmed that the Commission is exploring the most efficient way to implement it.
The conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe also show that citizens agree on the need to promote learning on environmental sustainability and climate change, as well as civic education on democratic values and on the functioning of the EU. The CoR has already collected more than 100 examples and best practices from 19 Member States and their regions and cities in this field.
MEP Marcos Ros Sempere (ES/S&D) underlined that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has taught us that we cannot take democracy for granted. He recalled that the European Parliament has recommended including EU civic education in the school curricula in all Member States. He also placed high expectations on the European Education Area , which is set to be completed by 2025, to widen the harmonisation of education among the Member States across all educational levels.
Representing the CoR’s group of Young Elected Politicians , Vienna city councillor Julia Heinrich pointed out that young people still lack information about job opportunities in other Member States and that moving to another country remains often a bureaucratic process.
The SEDEC Commission has also commissioned a study on the local implementation of the Reinforced Youth Guarantee. This study will be published on the SEDEC website before the end of June.
The next SEDEC meeting will be held in Brno, Czech Republic, on 3-4 October.