Amsterdam, 7 April 2016 // The Dutch Presidency of the Council, together with the Dutch National Youth Council, the European Commission and the European Youth Forum hosted the EU Youth Conference in Amsterdam on 4-7 April, bringing youth delegates and policy makers to the same table to discuss youth issues.
This EU Youth Conference kicks off the V cycle of the Structured Dialogue (an innovative and unique participative process where young people contribute to EU youth policy). In order to enhance a continuous dialogue between policy-makers and young people, the three EU Youth Conferences of the cycle of the current trio Presidency (Dutch, Slovakian, Maltese) will focus on the common theme “Enabling all young people to engage in a diverse, connected and inclusive Europe”.
Over four days, youth delegates and policy-makers sat at the same table to identify the main challenges faced by young people to be fully engaged in an inclusive society. They issued a guiding framework, which was presented today during the closing ceremony. An interactive debate on violent radicalisation with Commissioner Navracsics, the Deputy Minister Martin Van Rijn and the delegates concluded the conference.
The guiding framework will support the forthcoming consultations: “Young people need space and opportunity to develop their personal, social and civic competences. Without access to proper information and competences, young people can be misled and negatively influenced in their life options, opinion formulation, access to rights and the ability to exercise their active citizenship”. (Read the full version of the guiding framework here.)
After the conference, youth delegates will carry out widespread consultations with young people in their countries. The results of these consultations will be discussed in the next EU Youth Conference in Slovakia. To make this process a success, views and opinions of young people from various backgrounds must be represented.
Luis Alvarado Martinez, Vice-President of the Youth Forum, Chairperson of the European Steering Committee of the Structured Dialogue:
“The EU and the Member States must ensure that young people’s basic rights are respected and that they have the means to be fully engaged in society. Society is changing at a fast pace and new challenges arise. Young people are key players in identifying these. They must be supported to create a more cohesive society where dialogue is at the core. The EU Youth Conference in Amsterdam as well as the Structured Dialogue provides a space for young Europeans to have a strong policy impact on key issues. We hope that the European Commission will continue to strengthen and support this process, especially within the new framework after 2018”
Sjoukje van Oosterhout and Tibbe van den Nieuwenhuijzen, Dutch Youth representatives European Affairs of the Dutch National Youth Council:
“The core of our EU Youth Conference was to encourage youth representatives and policy makers to think outside of the existing structures and get us all out of the policy bubble. In order to achieve that, we have invited all participants to different working visits all around the city of Amsterdam, in order to get everyone acquainted with the challenges that young people are facing in Europe. Next to that, we introduced ‘streets of Europe’: all the youth delegates have asked young people in the streets of their countries about their ideas on a diverse, inclusive and connected Europe. We hope that all the participants had a good stay in Amsterdam and had a fruitful conference, and that we have inspired everyone to bring an inclusive, connected and diverse Europe a bit closer.”
Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport:
“Europe needs the input of its young generation to overcome the big challenges it is facing. I want to give all young people in Europe the chance to have their voice heard. The Structured Dialogue has an important role to play in this. I am more determined than ever to reach out to one million young people during my term as Commissioner. Together, we can build an open, diverse, strong Europe.”
Martin Van Rijn, Deputy Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports:
“It was an honour to host so many young Europeans and discuss what’s important for young people in the EU, today and in the coming years. Our closing debate on preventing radicalisation was very constructive for all participants. It takes a community to prevent radicalisation! We need to continue these debates, conversations and exchanges to make the European Union stronger and more inclusive for all Europeans.”