Youths imagine Europe’s future: transnational elections and universal EU passports

Federalism and stronger European harmonisation at the heart of European youth delegation presentation on Future of Europe

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a series of citizen-led debates and discussions that enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common European future. The European Citizens´panels are an integral part of the CoFoE.
The Conference on the Future of Europe is a series of citizen-led debates and discussions that enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common European future. The European Citizens´panels are an integral part of the CoFoE.

A delegation of European youth ambassadors were invited to the European Parliament to present and debate the results a report that brought together around 10,000 young people from around the EU, who gave their contributions on the future of Europe.

Kalojan Hoffmeister, of the Young European Federalists, and Niamh McGovern, co-chair of the European youth event were the youth representatives present in the parliament to explain the report.

“The youth of Europe are asking parliament to reduce youth unemployment as a post-pandemic first priority,” McGovern said. “They want to end unpaid internships, interconnect schools to help early school-leavers get back to education and set up a platform whereby students can access a database of paid internships around the EU.”

McGovern also said youths supported better fiscal integration in the Union, and a common fiscal policy for a fairer distribution of funds between wealthy and developing countries. and minimise bureaucracy.

“European youth want the EU to hold companies accountable for the pollution in cities... everyone is suffering in terms of health and wealth because of pollution that we do not attribute to companies... taxpayer funds are being used to mitigate the effects of pollution and the EU is aiming for net zero emissions by 2050, so we need to punish those companies right now.”

On digital transformation, McGovern also said young people wanted to be educated about the safe use of social media before it takes over their lives.

“We need Europe to convince our national leaders that we should educate children in school at an early age about social media and it's dangers so that we can prepare them for the digital world ahead.”

She explained the need for better protection against cybercrime. “MEPs need to strengthen existing legislation around cyber security to ensure our digital rights are protected,” stressing the importance of MEPs being shielded from potential lobbying.

Kalojan Hoffmeister expressed a desire to reform the European electoral system. “EU youth want to participate in a truly European democracy, not just 27 national democracies that just so happen to come together every five years.”

According to Hoffmeister, youths want transnational electoral lists that would show the structure and members of the political groups across the EU, so citizens have a better idea of who they’re really voting for during the European elections.

Hoffmeister also said it is the wish of the European youth to abolish the unanimity rule, strengthen the role of the Commission and the EP for dealing with the rule of law, and finally make clear that the ultimate authority on points of law is the European Court of Justice.

MEPs responding with their feedback included Manfred Weber (EPP), agreed with Hoffmeister on removing unanimity describing that aim as “of central importance”.

Weber also backed introducing universal European passports, but did not agree when it came to the demand for transnational lists, stating “there are other ways of achieving this”.

S&D MEP Domènec Ruiz Devesa said he was particularly touched by ideas on education. “I think that this is something of strategic importance and something which has not been sufficiently valued... We have to be able to endow the citizen with the ability to fully play its role in the political system of the European union.”

He backed the push for transnational lists, disagreeing with Weber's assertion. “I see how transnationalism is not necessary at the national level because the candidates are well known at the national level but this is not the case at the supranational European level.”

Daniel Freund (Greens) contributed to this debate: “I don't know who the party families are at the EU level and that needs to change., so we all actually understand who we are voting for. We need to enable EU citizens to go to court against anyone who violates their EU rights, and that's what an EU passport represents.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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