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On 19 November, at the European Youth Forum’s General Assembly, Varna, Bulgaria’s third-largest city, won the title of European Youth Capital (EYC) for 2017.
Varna’s application pledged to make the city a “social hub” for young people, with “Innowave” the title of the year. During its EYC year, the city will focus on the development of social entrepreneurship as a tool for increased youth participation, sustainable employment, creativity, networking, exchange and education.
With almost half of the city’s 340k population, the successful Varna EYC 2017 team is hoping that the award, and projects that come with it, “will provide a new horizon for youth work” in Bulgaria.
From our side, we are confident that this great news will give a positive boost to the coming Bulgarian AFS organisation and give to its AFS volunteers the opportunity to join forces with the EYC team to demonstrate the active, essential role that young people and youth organisations can play in society.
On 5 November, two of the European Parliament’s youngest MEPs together with the European Youth Forum President co-signed a public letter to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, urging him to keep his pre-election promises to young people in Europe.
It reminds him of his vocal commitment to “address the plight of Europe’s youth for a better future” and calls to take immediate action through a series of specific measures, including effective implementation of the youth guarantee; improved youth freedom of movement; genuine consultation with youth civil society; and increased access to quality education.
President Juncker made several references to young people as he campaigned before May’s European Parliament elections, insisting that youth unemployment would be a key issue for the next Europe Commission. However, several members of his newly appointed College of Commissioners, including Tibor Navracsics (Youth) and Marianne Thyssen (Education) reiterated these promises during hearings at the European Parliament in October.
Moreover, within the updated structure of the new Commission, none of the (increasingly influential) Vice-Presidents have been assigned overall responsibility for youth. The European Youth Forum raised this issue when the full Juncker Commission was announced, and is pleased to see MEPs – particularly those clearly representing young people – making the case as Europe’s new executive takes office. At a time when Europe’s youth are still disproportionately bearing the full force of the economic crisis, it is vital that young people are not lost within the Commission’s new hierarchy.
A lunchtime seminar organised by the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) shed light on the various current issues concerning free movement in the EU. The findings of a study on “Fiscal impact of EU migrants in selected EU countries (Austria, UK, Netherlands, Germany)” were presented. This was launched in response to threats by some Member States to restrict the right to free movement of people in the EU. Despite the fact that some Member States label EU migrants as being burdens to their social security systems, the study shows that the data available do not support these arguments. More precisely, since more than a half of all EU migrants in these 4 selected countries are between 20-44 years old and have higher education than the population of the country they move into, they tend to receive significantly less in benefits that are linked to age and health. Consequently, in all four countries, EU migrants made a positive contribution to the government budget, as the total taxes they paid exceeded the total benefits they received during 2007-2013 period.
Even if these results are reassuring those Member States that consider EU migrants as a burden to their social security system, we cannot remain indifferent to the fact that in order to support free movement within EU for EU members studies were needed to back up the fact that migrants represent a positive contribution to our government budget. There must be other good reasons to advocate for free mobility within EU.
Intergroups are formed by MEPs with a view to debating issues of significant importance and, therefore, can develop strong influence in the Parliament.
For the last five years, the Youth Intergroup of the European Parliament provided a unique space for MEPs from different political groups and committees to exchange views and work together on comprehensive and effective policies affecting young people, in conjunction with youth civil society and young people themselves. Not only a space for MEPs to discuss policy development, this intergroup is a real bridge between elected representatives and youth civil society.
The continued existence of the Youth Intergroup is crucial as it consistently brings youth to the attention of MEPs, other European institutions and facilitates improvements for Europe’s young people, such as, in the past, the Youth Guarantee and the Erasmus+ programme.
The third annual “Education and Training Monitor” 2014, by the European Commission
“Online Education and Training Monitor”, a visualisation tool designed by the European Commission
“European strategic guide for fostering participation and raising awareness on validation of learning outcomes of non-formal and informal learning”, published by SOLIDAR
“The Missing Piece of the Puzzle: Promote Non-Formal and Informal Learning as a driver for Human Development”, by SOLIDAR
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