The Guest Blog

Guest post by Mikuláš Dzurinda, president of the Centre for European Studies (CES) and former Prime Minister of Slovakia.

The topic of young people and politics has recently been outside of the comfort zone of many politicians. There is sometimes an – to my opinion erroneous – gloomy perception of young people being absent from the political life.

Youth policies pay the price of being divided between different governmental agencies and levels of governance (local, national, EU). This creates a feeling of remoteness from political institutions, including the EU ones, which in turn leads to a significant barrier to youth participation in politics.

The 2014 European Parliament elections are around the corner. It is crucial to have a good understanding on the issue of youth and politics. The turnout of young people for the 2009 EP elections was alarmingly low. For many the low turnout means that politics is alien to young people in Europe. But is this the case?

The 2011 Arab Spring, Spain’s ‘indignados’, student protests in Greece, the UK and Bulgaria tell a different story. It is wrong to think that young people are not interested in politics. On the contrary, they demand new participation channels targeted at youth. We should not talk about declining political participation of youth, we should instead understand it as transformation.

Young people express their views over the internet, mainly through social media. They use it as a form of organisation, information and as a community space. The web already functions de facto as a platform for youth participation in politics.

The Centre for European Studies (CES) understands that youth will not just wait for governments and the EU to do something for them. They already act through participation. This is why the CES , in cooperation with the European People’s Party and its youth organizations decided to give young people the floor for concrete policy proposals, in the form of the up2youth project.

The Up2Youth platform is a fantastic opportunity for young people across Europe to make their voices heard, The EPP is the first European political party to offer the youth the chance to share their ideas in this way and the first party to openly crowd source its youth policies in an open, transparent and interactive way.

This platform will allow Europe’s youth to tell EU leaders what is most important to them. I am confident that there will be no shortage of great ideas, and we are especially pleased to further the political process by serving as a platform for debate and discussion.

The ten participants offering the best policy ideas will be invited to the EPP Congress in Dublin, Ireland on 6 and 7 March 2014 to meet and share their ideas directly with EU leaders, including the EPP’s candidate for President of the European Commission, who will be nominated in Dublin. Furthermore, the participant offering the very best idea will also be offered a paid, six-month internship at the CES in Brussels, where she or he can further develop its policy proposals and ideas.

We look forward to the feedback we will receive and we remain strongly committed to having the best policy proposals brought to the attention of the EPP family leaders, as the party finalises its political platform for the 2014 European elections.

If you are a young European, this time YOU decide. This time is #up2youth.

 

The Up2youth project will be running from 9 December 2013 to 9 February 2014.

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