The Youth Council in Brussels: Making their voice heard on the future of Europe
On the 9th of March, the Representation Office of the European Region Tyrol – South Tyrol – Trentino in Brussels hosted the EUSALP Youth Council for its first workshop under the Italian Presidency. This peer-to-peer training was run the Fondazione Antonio Megalizzi, who supported the Youth Council through training sessions on cross-border cooperation on environmental and transport issues , EU political institutions, and lobbying. This culminated in the Youth Council developing ideas on the future of Europe which were submitted by the Youth Council to the Conference on the Future of Europe.
What is the Conference on the Future of Europe?
The Conference on the Future of Europe is a dialogue set up by the European Commission and European Parliament aimed at gathering ideas and engaging citizens with regards to the EU’s future, encouraging citizens to suggest reforms to the EU’s policies and institutions. Launched in April 2021, citizens have had the chance to contribute to this process by submitting their ideas and proposals to a multilingual online digital platform on any topic of their choosing. Decentralised events held by people, organisations, and local, national, and regional authorities have also been used to gather citizens’ ideas and opinions on the future direction of the continent. 800 randomly selected citizens have also been involved in European citizens’ panels, in which they have discussed the ideas proposed on the digital platform and made subsequent recommendations to the EU’s institutions. Thereafter, conference plenaries will debate the proposals, rooted on the proposals suggested by the citizens’ panels, deeply involving the citizens and their ideas in EU policy-making.
Making their voice heard: the Youth Council’s proposals to the Conference on the Future of Europe
During their time in Brussels, the EUSALP Youth Council had their say on the future of Europe. In their workshop in Brussels, they came up with suggestions to improve the future of Europe and the Alpine region, which were then submitted to the online digital platform on the Conference on the Future of Europe. Building on the increasing environmental and economic importance of train travel in the EU, the Youth Council proposed the sharing of live data across European rail operators to help harmonise the train booking system across the EU, the promotion and expansion of night train services, and the introduction of a standardised EU-wide public transport climate ticket. Other suggestions included a greater focus on cultural heritage through the creation of an EU commissioner solely responsible for cultural issues and the introduction of a Natura 2000 style network for culture. In addition, the Youth Council made proposals to improve digital connectivity, student grants, media information access, and EU support for municipalities. Some of the ideas can be found here.
Participating in the Conference on the Future of Europe has given the EUSALP Youth Council a chance to raise Alpine issues on an EU-wide scale and get involved in one of the largest democratic initiatives to have taken place within the EU to-date. Throughout the next few months, the recommendations of citizens will be debated within the EU’s formal political institutions, resulting in concrete proposals to reform the way the EU works and its future foci, in order to better represent the views of its citizens and residents.
The proposals for the COFE will be presented by the EUSALP Youth Council representative at the next EUSALP Executive Board.
The next EUSALP Executive Board will be held in Trento, Italy on 21-22 April 2022. As at each of these meetings, the Youth Council will be represented by one of its members. This will be an opportunity for the Youth Council to present the work done in Brussels to the regions. They will then be able to discuss these proposals with the members of EUSALP.