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"Languages, cultures, regional differences and local initiatives must be cherished because they are Europe’s strongest asset."

2022 : European Year of Youth, the year of all possibilities

Sarah_El_Hairy
Mouvement Démocrate

Read the op-ed published in Euractiv by Sarah El Haïry, French Minister of State for Youth and Engagement, attached to the Minister of National Education, Youth and Sport

More than ever, the future of young people is European. The future of Europe is young people.

In this very special year, I would like to remind you of our ambition for young people: to give everyone control over their own destiny.

For them, of course. But also because, through them, we are working to build our European destiny. Our responsibility is both to respond to the current needs of young people and to open up the field of possibilities for them, to help them shape their future with confidence and optimism.

The President of the French Republic wondered about the vision of European citizens of Europe in March 2019. Emmanuel Macron said that in the eyes of some, Europe had "become a market without a soul".  He then rightly recalled that Europe is not a market but a "project".

We have worked to make this project concrete, and in this symbolic year, the European Year of Youth, we are intensifying our efforts to make this European project tangible, almost bodily, for our youth.

After two years of the pandemic and the many questions and doubts it has generated, the European Union must embody this new breath and this path to the future.

Yes, the health crisis has pushed us to our limits. All of us: families, parents, children, students, young and old, working people, we have lived in tension.

Our carers, who are committed on a daily basis, but also our teachers, are the courageous witnesses of this.

When you live in a health emergency, yes, it is hard to see the future, because you only think about tomorrow. This is precisely why the European Youth Conference is a great opportunity.

This dense moment must allow us to think about the future. It must enable us to place the younger generation at the heart of the EU's decision-making process in a sustainable way.

Yes, we must give them a voice and build with them a Europe based on the concerns and needs of young people. We must commit ourselves together to a sustainable and inclusive Europe.

Several major areas have been chosen to be worked on during this conference: mobility, the environment, citizenship and commitment. Together we will build a renewed and strengthened European sense of belonging: a Europe that makes young people dream and make them proud.

This renewed European identity will be based on support for the commitment to and encouragement of mobility, a fundamental and founding value of our Union. The new Erasmus+ programme is the key instrument for building the European Education Area by 2025 and for the mobility of young people.  It also makes a decisive contribution to the realisation of the first principle of the European social rights base and to the European skills strategy.

With a total budget of over €28 billion over 7 years, it should enable 10 million people of all ages and backgrounds to experience international mobility and exchange.

Tomorrow, this system will be enhanced and extended by means of a European civic service open to all those under 25 years of age and designed to bring European citizenship to life.

Young people today are more than ever committed to environmental protection and this is an opportunity to support and value this interest. To let them and encourage them to be actors.

It is necessary to highlight this commitment, these innovative and concrete projects in favour of sustainable development, today carried by young people. This is the purpose of the European call for projects "Young and eco-committed" which brought together a total of 117 participants from 15 Member States. The winners of this initiative will be presented at our conference.

Together we are building the Europe of tomorrow.

Europe is a willingness to make progress, whether social or technological.

Europe is this infinite optimism that has seen us overcome all obstacles. All the dramas.

Europe is a desire for debate, tolerance and confidence in the future.

All this I hope you will keep in mind throughout your lives, you, young Europeans.