After a year of hard work, the approximately 800 European citizens participating in the Conference on the Future of Europe have delivered their verdict. A total of 49 proposals were submitted to the European Parliament on 9 May for Europe Day. Among them, measures that directly concern students, apprentices, in short, young people.
The bet was fulfilled: in March 2021, representatives of the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission inaugurated the establishment of the Conference on the Future of Europe. A year later, on May 9, 2022, the findings were delivered to them.
A total of 800 “randomly selected” citizens participated in this “transnational, multilingual and inter-institutional exercise in deliberative democracy”., says the report. Nine topics were discussed: economy, social justice and employment, education, digital transformation, European democracy, values and rights, climate change, health, the European Union in the world and migration.
The younger generation also had their say. In each panel, a third of citizens should be between 16 and 24 years old. Also, in Of the 49 proposals and 320 measures adopted, about ten directly concern young people..
1. Involve young people in decision-making
More consultations, dialogues, debates with citizens and, in particular, with young people, this is what the Conference on the future of Europe is all about. Young people, including those aged between 10 and 16, must be able to express themselves in the democratic process.
A digital platform could be created, in particular, to allow them to “share their ideas, ask questions to representatives of the European institutions and express their views on important European issues as well as on legislative proposals”.
The Conference also intends to rely on local youth councils and wants a closer link between national governments and youth organizations “to determine their needs” and implement policies.
Another measure that was also debated in France at the time of the presidential elections: the right to vote at age 16 for “elections to the European Parliament” that “along with strengthening EU citizenship and education, deserves to be discussed and considered. National political parties must ensure that they also put younger candidates on their lists for elections to the European Parliament.
2. Democratize knowledge about Europe
So many proposals that demand above all to make young people want to participate. The Conference agrees that European institutions should “use more accessible language and avoid bureaucratic jargon in their communications. (…) Special efforts should be made to reach young people on social media, but also through youth movements and various ‘ambassadors’ (organizations and individuals) that explain the European project”.
This could also involve common modules “to be taught in all Member States” on European history, democratic processes or EU values.
3. Harmonize the recognition of diplomas, skills and learning
With regard to education, the Conference also makes some recommendations. The Bologna process had already allowed for a real approximation of education systems in Europe in 1998, with the introduction of the LMD system (bachelor-master-doctorate) and ECTS (credits that allow the recognition of diplomas in Europe), but now it is a question of going even further.
The Conference proposes “coordinate the level of all the different education programs in the European Union and create closer links between education systems, in particular through the equivalence of diplomas”. This would facilitate mobility and access to employment across Europe.
And in addition to obtaining mutual recognition of diplomas and training, the issue is also at the level of learningnot yet sufficiently appreciated and offered among EU countries.
The Conference is also considering theintroduction of a European certification in digital skills.
4. Promote employment to limit talent drain
These educational measures must then promote access to employment across Europe. But not only. Other recommendations are expected to give a boost: this involves financial assistance for companies, financial support for young entrepreneurs and on its own or for Strengthening the Youth Guarantee whose objective is to improve “the access of young people under 30 to a good quality job offer, continuous training, apprenticeship or internship”.
The aim is, above all, to limit the brain drain. Especially for students of health and life sciences. “Networking and exchange programs should be developed, as an Erasmus for medical schools(…) retain talent in Europe and allow young professionals to broaden their knowledge and gain professional experience.”
The Conference, however, warns of the quality of the internship and professional mobility that can be offered to young people in Europe. She proposes banning unpaid internships and ending minimum wages for young peopleprovision considered to be discriminatory in relation to labor law.
5. Ensuring the well-being of the young generation
As a result of the health crisis, the precariousness of students has been revealed to everyone. The Conference on the Future of Europe therefore stresses the importance of guarantee “a reasonable standard of living, including access to social protection and housing” for young people. Affordable housing that cannot be achieved without EU funding.
All these proposals are now in the hands of European leaders who will have to follow up on the report without the deadlines being clearly defined… Case next.