Voice Your Vision – European Year of Youth

Today is the International Youth Day, and on this occasion Kamil Goungor, our Policy and Movement Support Officer, wrote an article about the European Year of Youth -which is this year- and our activities related to it.

“…But if we are to shape our Union in their mould, young people must be able to shape Europe’s future. Our Union needs a soul and a vision they can connect to. Or as Jacques Delors asked: How can we ever build Europe if young people do not see it as a collective project and a vision of their own future? This is why we will propose to make 2022 the Year of European Youth. A year dedicated to empowering those who have dedicated so much to others.”

With these words, in her State of the Union address last year, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, announced that 2022 will be the European Year of Youth (EYY).

This announcement was rather surprising and unexpected, even for the most relevant youth stakeholders in the so-called “Brussels bubble”, but it was received positively (or at least not negatively) by the majority of people and organisations. Young people and their role in Europe of today and of tomorrow was recognised on the highest level, and 2022 would be the year their voice is heard more than ever, the year youth is celebrated in every corner of the continent and everyone is invited to the party.

Of course, ENIL could not miss the celebrations, as we have an active and strong Youth Network, with more than 300 members. We have proven our commitment to the young generation in many occasions, and have been praised numerous times for our youth work. In areas like, for example, the inclusive and accessible European Solidarity Corps, we are often mentioned as a good example, which makes us proud and motivated to continue.

When it comes to the European Year of Youth in particular, we are pretty active on various levels. First of all, we are active members of the EYY stakeholders and National Coordinators group from almost the beginning, participating in its meetings and making sure that the voice and perspective of disabled youngsters are heard.

Then two of our biggest campaigns are youth flavoured this year. First, the European Independent Living Day – 5th May, was dedicated to youth and the EYY. Among others, on the day our Youth Network organised a webinar on young leaders and the importance of being involved in the decision making process. The event was also promoted on the official platform of the EYY. In addition, in our upcoming Freedom Drive (26-28 September in Brussels), the youth component will be present every day, from youth related workshops and a panel in the conference, to young speakers and moderators.

Throughout the year, we are trying to engage (either our youth leaders directly or the staff working closely with them) in every activity, event or consultation that is concerning young people in Europe. We have already participated in numerous events (like this for example), physical or online, and contributed to relevant surveys etc. And we will continue to do so until the end of the European Year of Youth, but also after it, in the next years, no matter what the main topic is. After all, we believe in youth and we do it for the future of the movement and of the society as a whole.