The European Youth Event’s history

(which inspired the Conference on the Future of Europe)

The European Youth Event (EYE) is back! 

After the online 2020 edition, created exceptionally due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the European event for young people between 16 and 30 years old will take place again. The date is set for the 8th and 9th of October 2021, at the European Parliament of Strasbourg. 

Although it has always occurred every two years, the European Parliament – organizer of EYE – has decided to propose an edition in a hybrid mode (face-to-face and online) already this autumn. The first virtual activities will start on 4 October under the slogan “The future is ours”.

This edition represents a unique opportunity, considering that this year will be held in conjunction with the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), inaugurated on 9 last May on the occasion of Europe Day. Participants in EYE 2021 will be asked to examine the ideas collected on the platform in special workshops and to vote on them. A special report about the approved proposals will be delivered to the members of the Conference. 

Since its birth in May 2014, EYE has been presented as an opportunity for young Europeans to meet and discuss the major issues that affect our Union. These discussions included youth unemployment, sustainability, digital revolution and other themes. Already in that first edition it managed to attract 5,500 participants, 400 speakers and dozens of partners. To avoid losing what was gained during the event, 100 journalists, altogether with the European Youth Press and the European Youth Forum compiled a report. It was then delivered to MEPs to help them orient themselves towards the needs of the new generations. Some ideas, considered particularly suggestive, were presented by the participants themselves in seven parliamentary committees, receiving direct feedback from politicians. 

In 2016, guided by the motto “Together we can make a change” the event aimed to find together with young Europeans solutions for the future of the continent and the planet.

2018 is the year of the last traditional edition, which reached a record of 8970 young participants, representatives of 109 nationalities. It also marked the start of the European electoral campaign “This time I vote” to raise awareness among EU citizens to participate in the European elections of May 2019. Those elections recorded the highest turnout ever obtained in the previous 20 years and the first increase in participation, compared to the first appointment to elect the European Parliament in 1979. Also, in this edition, as in the previous ones, a report was drawn up with some selected ideas. It was available in all EU languages ​​and discussed by MEPs during the dedicated EYE hearings.

In 2020, the pandemic forced the EP to give up its original plans, but this did not prevent young Europeans from participating via digital platforms. The aim? Answer their questions on the actions taken by the EU in the face of the health, social and economic crisis of that period. As well as to discuss the future: nutrition and rural renewal, slow spending, mass surveillance and mental health. 

In short, in relation to young Europeans, it seems that EYE has already represented in past years a prototype of the CoFoE ongoing today. In 2021, the inspiring principles of EYE have been endorsed by the Conference, which involves several generations of Europeans in an unprecedented civic process. Furthermore young people – who are supposed to live this future more than others – will find a privileged place in the consultation. 

The biggest challenge will be about citizen participation and the ability of institutions to prove themselves reliability. 

Simone Pavesi

Read the Italian version!