On the 1st and 2nd of June 2018, the third edition of the European Youth Event (EYE2018) occurred in the Strasbourg’s seat of the European Parliament (EP). Around 8,000 young Europeans came to the event to discuss ideas for a better European Union (EU), to meet MEPs and to develop their knowledge about the functioning of this institution, but above all to meet other young people from all over the EU and their ambitions, passions and projects. I participated in this year’s edition in order to have my own personal experience of this event.
The core of the event consisted in the activities that each of the participants chooses to take part in. As for me, the most impressive activity was the discussion with Antonio Tajani in the hemicycle where participants could directly ask the current President of the European Parliament questions about already selected topics. It utterly felt as if we were in the shoes of the MEPs. Other activities that I joined were the fictional trial of the EU that was accused of having a democratic deficit (roles of the participants were divided between judges, prosecution, defence and jury), organised by the Paris-based think tank Argo ; a political rap battle between London-based rappers that represented the socialist, liberal, green and conservative parties of the EP ; and a conference about the Brexit negotiations and their impact.
It could be felt from this event that young European citizens are very much attached to the EU as they believe it helps them in various fields such as studying abroad (with the programme Erasmus+), in their search for a job or with the freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital.
The major focus of this edition was the 2019 European Parliament elections, meaning that the EU encouraged the participants to vote at these elections. The EYE2018 seems to be a very good initiative to promote and thus increase the turnout of young European citizens at these elections as they are more inclined to spread the word about it to their fellow young European citizens.
Below you can find some impressions written by other participants of the EYE2018.
Zoé from Copenhagen
During the EYE, I experienced a concentration of passionate and driven people, creating an inspiring atmosphere for me to extend my personal limits. Talking in front of a large audience in the hemicycle, a fraction of the European youth, was an experience that I will not forget. Overall, the EYE inspired me to further become active in youth groups and involve myself in activities that aim at strengthening the influence of the European youth.
Maria from Lisbon
The EYE was my first direct contact with the European Union. It had a vibrant atmosphere and the activities I participated in were very insightful – not only for understanding European youth’s ideas and thoughts nowadays, but also to understand EU problems and its benefits as well. It was a good and rewarding experience to participate in helping to build a better future for all of us.
Felix from Kufstein
Many consider the European Union to have alienated with its people due to a lack of communication. The EYE offers a possibility for younger people to overcome this feeling and really embrace the EU. Lots and lots of discussions, presentations and talks allow not only to gain a lot of information about the EU, but also to get into contact with a lot people also involved in the topic. Overall it really is a great chance to broaden one’s horizon and to understand that the EU is not just a complicated superstructure, but our present and our future, we can shape it, we just have to get involved!
Victoria from Nantes
As a European citizen but also a law student, I wanted to get a new experience and thus I took part in this event. I attended a debate about the corruption perception index of 1995 (transparency.org) and how to evaluate corruption in countries which are at the end of a civil war or not. The main part of the debate was the focus on the means used to decrease corruption and protect human rights. The speakers gave us some initiatives, projects that can be set up and then we shared our ideas with them. It was very concrete.
Afterwards, I had the opportunity to hear Ms Lamiya Aji Bashar and Mr Denis Mukwege who are two Sakharov prizes laureates. They shared with us a part of what they have seen, what they have lived. It was very emotional and inspiring.
(The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was established by the European Parliament in 1988 in order to honour people that consecrated their lives to the defence of human rights and the freedom of thought. Ms Lamiya Aji Bashar was awarded the prize in 2016 while Mr Denis Mukwege was awarded the prize in 2014.)
Eventually I was present at a debate about environment. I noted that young European people showed a particular interest in this issue since there was a very strong debate and the big lecture hall was overcrowded.
I have several impressions about this event that I would not have expected :
First of all, the participants’ age – they were teenagers who came with their teacher. Yet were very much involved. It depicted a positive image of the youth, very far from the cliché that we sometimes hear sometime about young people and their disinterest in what’s happening in the world in general.
Secondly, this event allowed us to share our ideas at the end of each discussion sessions. The first step to be heard was achieved, which means that if you want to do more for the European Union, you really can.
Thirdly, it was an event that was based a lot on culture. There were theatrical and dance performances, and also music bands from different European countries playing on open spaces in or outside the parliament, for instance the Yo!Fest. It was a very much appreciated surprise.
To conclude, this event was a real source of motivation and inspiration in getting more involved in what I believe. I will finish with this little sentence which was on my mind at the end of these two days : « Be audacious, you can do something even if you’re young. »
In addition, our group also visited the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg where we met with a legal expert who explained us the functioning of the Court.
Last but not least, the city of Strasbourg is truly lovely with its timber framing houses, the river Ill in la Petite France historic quarter, and not to forget the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Strasbourg!
© Barbara Zak
The official site of the EYE2018 :
EYE on Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/ep_eye/
Here you can find the coverage of the EYE2016 by fellow writers of the EUROpens blog :
FOR MORE UPDATES