#TheFutureIsYours: What the Conference on the Future of Europe Has in Store for You
The Conference on the Future of Europe is an ongoing project that has already been launched in May 2021 and is expected to reach conclusions by spring 2022. Its objective is to offer young Europeans the opportunity to shape the EU's future direction and policy choices. There are four components: a multilingual digital platform, events happening across Europe, European Citizens’ Panels as well as Conference Plenaries. People can use the digital platform in three ways: to express and discuss their views on Europe and the changes they think are needed; to find events to attend virtually or nearby; or to organise their own events.
How are the voices of young Europeans being heard?
The ideas expressed by participants are fed into the EU’s strategic planning and lead to concrete recommendations for action. The Conference is structured around several main topics. Some of them are especially relevant for young people – among those are issues such as education and employment, mental and physical health, digitalisation, or climate
Education and Employment
When it comes to education, young people are facing a lot of pressure nowadays. Alongside academic excellence, students must often prove that they have taken an array of extracurricular activities. The availability of fairly paid student jobs – as well as good and equal opportunities to travel, volunteer, study or do an internship abroad – are therefore crucial for young Europeans. The main role of the EU in that aspect is to encourage co- operation between member states. This is demonstrated through programmes such as Erasmus+ or the European Solidarity Corps, in addition to the effort to ensure the recognition of academic diplomas. These efforts also aim to achieve equal academic opportunities for citizens of all member states and encourage Europeans of all financial and social backgrounds to pursue opportunities like student exchanges.
Mental and Physical Health
We are currently not only facing a pandemic but also a mental health crisis. More young people than ever are experiencing mental health difficulties. Even though healthcare and medical services are primarily the responsibility of national governments, EU health policies can support and strengthen initiatives to tackle this growing problem.
While technology can be an amazing tool, there are also concerns about how it impacts self- perception and privacy. Furthermore, there might be inequality in access. Therefore, the EU is committed to providing cyber security and making sure that the digital transition leaves no one behind. The European Union’s digital strategy focuses on data, technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, infrastructure, and connectivity. A crucial component of that strategy is also to support digital innovation and invest in digital education and digital health.
A large number of young people view climate change as an urgent problem that requires immediate action. Consequently, environmental policies, in addition to sustainability measures, are high on the priority lists of young and soon-to-be adults. The battle against climate change and environmental damage is also one of the EU’s key agendas. For this reason, it has recently launched the European Green Deal.
If the above wasn’t enough to interest you, there are other issues on the table: discussions on LGBTIQ+ rights and representation, a common European identity, access to products from other EU countries, and support for developing regions in Europe.
Of course, the running theme of the Conference is the willingness and availability of decision-makers to listen directly to your feedback, so you always have the option to add your own points of view and topics.