EP’s Culture and Education committee chairwoman on Wednesday “expressely welcomed” the proposal announced by Ursula von der Leyen during her 2021 State of the Union address in Parliament.
Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE) stressed that it was a timely and needed step, given the disproportionate effects that Corona pandemic had had on young people.
“Young people face challenges in continuing their education, entering the labour market, and maintaining their social lives. Many students have lost their part-time jobs and fear about their future. Moreover, the flaws in the education system have become more apparent and homeschooling has further exacerbated educational inequity. A Year of European Youth is now an opportunity to bring the needs and fears of young people to the forefront, and work together to identify solutions”, she said.
“Investing in Europe's future”
"Young people play a key role in shaping our Europe of tomorrow. Whether those are pensions, attractiveness of rural areas, digitization or climate change — solutions are only possible if they are being found together with young people. The decision to dedicate a European Year to them shows that young people are a priority in Europe”, she said.
She called for a special focus on entrepreneurship, for example, by bringing young people and companies together in workshops. "Investing in youth means investing in economic development. Young professionals in particular need to be empowered to create space for bold young innovations and forward-looking start-ups”, she said.
“The European Year of Youth is the perfect complement to the Conference on the Future of Europe and allows us to put a stronger focus on young people in this process. It allows us to highlight what the EU means to our youth, but at the same time, shows how we can better engage this generation”, she stressed.
“The Year should be designed by young people themselves”
Verheyen also pleaded to involve young people in the planning of the European Year. “The most important actors in the concrete design of the European Year should be the young people themselves”. She called for a “bottom-up approach”, planning the Year in close consultation with the largest youth organizations and associations at European, national and regional levels.
“I am looking forward to working with the European Commission on this matter and am excited to see how we will now give this European Year of Youth a concrete shape," she concluded.