We are a non-governmental non-profit European organization created to help and serve young people. Our 47-star logo is the mirror of our action that goes beyond the European Union, including all countries of the Council of Europe. We, as young people too, want to use our energy to fight for our causes and motivate other youngsters to move Europe in a new direction. This direction promotes human rights, equality, social inclusion, citizenship, culture, healthy lifestyle, protection of the environment and technological knowledge.
Our Plan of Activities for 2017 is the result of 10 years of pilot projects, positive experiences, success stories and also some frustrated projects. All this work allowed to test some organizational concepts and laid the basis of the work that we are currently developing, and especially, what we are preparing for the future. Through these projects, we seek to empower young people with tools that help them understand the functioning of society, but above all, give them the possibility to influence the decision-making process and even take part in it. We also want to break with the generalized idea – and growing trend – that accessibility to political participation depends heavily on family conditions. We want to promote the integration of young people who tend to have less access to these initiatives, and consequently contribute to the reduction of inequality between social classes.
As an institution for young people, we believe our work is an essential factor to foster not only the involvement of the younger generations but the change and acceleration in the discussion and implementation of policies that strengthen the union of our European society as well. This union must be based on a democratic regime, based on humanitarian values and full respect for Human Rights, freedom of expression, critical thinking and equality in all its aspects.
Adding to this Youth participation and turnout in elections is reaching new low levels and, according to the Eurobarometer, 79% of young Europeans between the ages of 15 and 30 do not consider the possibility of applying for an election during their lifetime. Eurobarometer 2 data from 2013 reinforces this idea: 23% of young people who participated in at least one associative activity consider the possibility of being candidates for an election. At the same time, only 14% of the young people, without any associative participation, were willing to apply.
Therefore, it is essential to create opportunities that enable young people to access experiences that bring them closer to active participation and critical thinking about our societies. This willingness to support the participation of young people is present in the Treaty of Lisbon, Article 165, which states that one of the objectives of the EU should be to stimulate the participation of young people in the democratic life of Europe.
As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world.”