30 European students enrolled in a Master's degree programme related to European Affairs told EPP Group in the CoR: "Young people want to be taken seriously"
During a three-day trip to Brussels, a group of 30 students met with high EU officials and debated what matters to young people ahead of the European Parliament elections. The event, organised and hosted by the EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions, was the 6th time that young people have been invited to participate in the CoR Plenary Session and to witness the impact of local and regional authorities on EU decision-making.
Following a welcome from Michael Schneider, President of the EPP Group in the Committee of the Regions, the students discussed what matters to young people with Wim van de Camp, MEP, Ingrid Habets, Wilfried Martens Centre and Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, the Campaign Manager behing the Internet video phemomenon Happy Voting. Both the students and speakers agreed that it is important to balance entertainment with factual information when targeting young people about the EU. It was akso concluded that whilst political participation in traditional parties has decreased, political values are of great importance to young people.
Turning to the issue of youth employment, Connie Hanniffy, member of the EPP Group in the CoR, insisted that the EU and Europe's regional governments should ensure that young people should have opportunities to create their own jobs and become entrepreneurs. In parallel sessions, Luc Van den Brande, discussed the importance of multilevel governance for Europe and Markku Markkula debated how smart specialisation is an essential element of a competitive Europe.
The European Parliament elections was a reoccuring theme for the students and a specific panel on the importance of voting took place with participation from Ondrej Plenkovic, MEP, Eva Majewski, European Democrat Students, and Joan Manuel Lanfranco Pari, VoteWatch Europe. This was followed by a discussion with Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, on how the EU affects daily life. Not only pointing out how the effects of structural funds evident in Europe, the Commissioner entered into a debate about energy policy and the need to better promote Europe on the ground.
The Study Visit was concluded by Tom Vandenkendelaere, Vice President of YEPP who led an open and frank discussion on the challenges for young people to enter the job market, following the financial and economic crisis. He warned against going from traineeship to traineeship and encouraged the students to take bold steps in forging their own careers.
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