Ms Mariya Gabriel delivers an opening speech, via pre-recorded video-message, at the “LEAP Summit” in Zagreb, on the European Year of Youth

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Dear Mr Hanzir,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Dear young people,

It is a great pleasure for me to join today’s event organised by the Croatian Office for Creativity and Innovation. I would like to thank Mr Andrej Hanzir for the kind invitation for me to address all of you today.

The LEAP Summit is the largest conference created for young professionals and students in Southeast Europe. It is an event dedicated to educating and inspiring a future generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders. It is a conference that has influenced more than 10 000 people from above 40 countries over the years and offers a great opportunity to reach out to young professionals and students across Southeast Europe.

I can think of no better place to present the unfolding of the European Year of Youth than here, in front of you, our young innovators, entrepreneurs, and youth leaders.

You are the ones who can change our perception of what is “possible”. We need to listen to you, our young Europeans, because you can shape the future of Europe. You are the spirit of Europe’s next generation.

2022 is a year to listen to your concerns, views and ideas and involve you in policymaking. Because you are at the core of some of our most exciting initiatives. To invest in you is to invest in the future we all want.

We want the European Year of Youth to be broad in scope to cover all policy and social areas of concern to young people. Therefore, it is important to co-create it together with you, our young Europeans, in order for it to have a long-lasting impact. A legacy.

It is a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and views about the priorities and challenges that lay ahead of us and to listen to young people’s ideas about how we can overcome those challenges. To listen but also to give voice to young Europeans. This is precisely the overarching message for the European Year of Youth – “Voice your Vision”. We have recently launched a Voice Platform through which young people can record their messages about their vision for the future of Europe. Through this immersive tool young people are able, in their own language, to make their voice heard and express themselves on topics they are passionate about.

The European Youth Portal is the other place to get involved. Everyone can find information on the latest youth-related initiatives and projects and participate in activities across Europe. You can even upload your own events and promote them! So far more than 1 250 events and 100 initiatives have been uploaded. These focus on the Year’s 8 main topics: learning mobility, employment and inclusion, green, digital, culture, health and wellbeing, and youth and the world.

To give you an example, with our new initiative “Plastic Pirates” we aim to engage young people from schools across Europe to collect plastic waste along coastal areas and then to analyse what has been collected. The goal is to trigger students’ interest in scientific work which is relevant for societal challenges and to empower them to take action for the protection of Europe’s rivers and seas.

This is just an example of the various initiatives we have on the portal. Our aim is to involve as many young people as possible to fill these initiatives with substance and make them a reality!

I invite you to take a look, see what interests you the most and organise your own event in which, together with your peers, you can discuss the issues you are passionate about – from the green and digital transition to sustainable development, innovation and entrepreneurship. Check out the Activities Map and see where you’d like to make your mark.

In the end, it is all about the connections you make with each other and other young people across Europe. So, enjoy this conference, talk to each other, learn, engage. This is my message to you – be bold, be ambitious, think out of the box.

I wish you all a great event.

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