Young liberals welcome the European Commission Youth Action Plan launched this week, despite concerns about lack of representation during the drafting process.
Young people are the changemakers and future leaders of Europe, and essential partners for ensuring the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the digital transition.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, young people have been facing global challenges linked to inequalities, lack of employment and educational opportunities and shrinking democratic and civic spaces. Moreover, young people have been constantly underrepresented in policymaking at all levels throughout this crisis. Tapping into the potential of young people and supporting gender equality is key for sustainable development.
The European Commission included a Youth Action Plan in their 2022 Work Programme as the external dimension of the EU Youth Strategy. The Action Plan aims to:
- Tackle all forms of discrimination
- Ensure young people are empowered at the political, social and economic levels by EU external action
- Make youth engagement a core element of European foreign policy
- Bring together ongoing initiatives such as the Erasmus+ Programme to include young people from all backgrounds to have a stronger role as agents for change
- Integrate youth issues into the European policy dialogue and cooperate with partner countries to establish evidence-based, cross policy sector interventions.
The European Liberal Youth (LYMEC), ALDE Party’s youth wing, welcomes the Youth Action Plan and views the meaningful participation of young people in politics as essential at all levels, especially with the European Year of Youth coming to a close at the end of 2022. The creation of safe spaces for youth dialogue is key to ensure the voices of young people are listened to and not merely taken as tokenistic gestures by decision makers. LYMEC sees the empowerment of girls and young women as vital to ensuring sustainable development and appreciates the references to ensuring gender equality and ending discrimination in the Action Plan.
In addition, LYMEC insists on the need for concrete actions to be taken from this Action Plan. Decisions taken must be more than just words. Furthermore, LYMEC criticises the lack of response during the feedback process for the plan, highlighting the lack of representativeness amongst responses. This shines a light on the need for young people to be provided with all information regarding important topics to allow them to make informed decisions and contribute accurately and meaningfully to the policymaking process.