EESC conference on the proposal of promoting an EU youth test
On June 8, 2022 the European Economic and Social Committee held an online conference related to the proposal of promoting an EU youth test. The guiding thread of the session was the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has made to the youth and the necessity of including youngsters in the policy and decision making of EU politics – as stressed by Nicoletta Merlo, Study group President and Katrīna Leitāne, EESC rapporteur in the introductory part.
During the first part of the meeting, Baudouin Baudru, Secretariat General, European Commission and Anna Blackwell, European Youth Forum, confirmed that it is essential that new generations participate in the process of decision making of the EU and of the national governments in order to know which is their point of view in the current issues; such as climate change, greening, digitalisation, unemployment rates, etc.
Moreover, new generations’ engagement from political processes is fundamental since politicians attach great importance to the opinion of youth about the regulations adopted by the parliaments. If on the one hand, the youth is integrated in the decision and policy making with the participation in elections, on the other hand for many of them this is not enough in order to play a role in politics. Indeed, a large portion of the youth population argue that there are not the same resources available for everybody to participate in society. Ondrej Barta, Youth researcher, stated that underage people should also be taken into account because they are also going to be the future of our union.
During the panel discussion, some good practices and opinions recorded in some member states were provided to the audience. In Austria, for instance, the child and youth impact assessment is mandatory for all new bills and regulations, as Andreas Schneider, European and International Family and Youth Policies, Federal Chancellery Austria and Eleonora Kleibel, Austrian National Youth Council reported. Indeed, it has to be supplemented by an effect-orientated impact assessment to be carried out by the members of the federal government. In addition, one of the benefits of promoting youth participation in politics is that the awareness rises. However, a disadvantage could be that sometimes there is not enough knowledge of a certain field so as to be discussed.
Jan Raymaekers, Flemish National Youth Council, presented the situation in the Flemish community where all Flemish ministers have to ask the Flemish youth council for advice whenever they want to make a decision that will have consequences for children and young people. According to some recent surveys, young peoples’ interest in politics and participation is not decreasing, it is changing – reported Lana Pasic, EU-CoE youth partnership. Indeed, engagement is issue-led, short-term and less organised. Finally, Immanuel Benz, German Ministry for the family, elderly, women and youth, stated that politicians should look from younger people’s eyes in order to see how we treat them.