From 9 to 11 May 2014, the European Youth Event (EYE 2014) brought together 6,000 Europeans aged 16-30 to exchange views on youth-related issues at the European Parliament's seat in Strasbourg (France). Dianova Portugal was involved in the event's management as a National Coordinator of the EYE 2014.
By Rui Martins, Head of Communication, Dianova Portugal and National Coordinator of EYE 2014
#EYE2014 – Whatever opinion one might have about Europe, watching the energy and dedication of these young people was very rewarding. The event was considered a great success and a huge range of topics were explored and deliberated on in more than 200 workshops and seminars with politicians, journalists and decision-makers, exchanging ideas, deconstructing or praising policies and reinterpreting them in all kinds of ways in a fantastic effort to reinvent Europe's future direction. The outcomes of the EYE 2014 will be handed to the newly-elected members of the European Parliament during the first plenary session in July.
Many important outcomes were discussed at the wrap up session and closing ceremony on Sunday. Presided by European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Mrs Androulla Vassiliou, the session was attended by over 800 young people in the hemicycle room at the Louise Weiss building (LOW).
It was a very emotional session and many young people could share their worries, their needs and expectations, not only about their own future in Europe, but also about the future of Europe – while a major question arose, both whispered and shouted out loud: would European Parliament's and European Commission's officials take into account all that had been discussed during the event and translate these insights into real actions to improve young people's condition in Europe…?
Among the many issues they addressed during wrap up ceremony, the participants focused on youth employment issues, digital evolution, the future of EU, sustainability and European values.
About youth employment for instance, participants declared that the issue had to be tackled now: young people demand not only jobs but quality jobs. They need guarantees. Youth employment is an issue which not only concerns youth but the society as a whole. Last but not least, most internship and traineeship statuses offered today are a scandal with many young people suffering long hours, low pay and exploitation as they try to secure their first jobs.
About the future of EU: participants stressed that European institutions should be simpler, more transparent and rely on a communication which is more open and efficient in order to support people's participation and sustain European identity. And this should be done at the same pace in every country.
Last but not least, European identity is a stronghold of democracy and human rights, however as democratic values are decreasing, and hate speech against migrants or other populations becoming endemic across Europe, solidarity, ethics and shared responsibility must be improved. Youth participation in particular must be encouraged at the European, national and regional levels. We must not rely solely on EU-funded events such as EYE 2014 to kindle young people's commitment to Europe.