With young, activist citizens marching en masse for ends like Fridays For Future and Black Lives Matter, it is becoming increasingly clear that their opinions are not reflected well in the European political agenda of today. In an age where more and more citizens get involved in political movements digitally, European democracies fail to accommodate citizens that engage in politics virtually. What should Member States do to improve the engagement between policy makers and the younger generations via digital means?
AFCO Action Plan
Motion for an Action Plan by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs
Submitted by: Aleksandra Borowska (PL), Mariana Costa (PT), Luke De Lacey (IE), Isabel Denkers (NL), Mattia Di Russo (IT), Alice Ferreira (PT), Abdulrazak Khallouf (BE), Zara Nijzink-Laurie (NL), Ghizlan Rebbah (NL), Hayat Solmaz (TR), Madeleine Tempelman (NL); Emilie Lutz (Chairperson, FR)
The voices of young people are often not considered in policy making. They are not represented enough within legislatures, owing to the fact that the average age of European Parliament members is 49.5 years old. Cyberactivism is on the rise, with over 60% of young people getting their information from social media, yet it is still not taken seriously by political institutions. The initiatives and programmes created to facilitate youth engagement often target a small minority of young people already engaged with politics, failing to advertise the programmes available to them and to create a diverse and inclusive environment for all.
The European Youth Parliament recommends taking the following actions on the
Individual and local level
- Encourages local governments and educational organisations to create secondary level programmes around current political affairs in collaboration with local politicians or municipal employees;
- Suggests Member States’ local governments to create a platform where young people can:
- obtain information about political parties,
- suggest solutions to problems local policymakers are facing,
- submit proposals to improve city management and infrastructures;
- Trusts educational institutions of Member States to engage young people in politics by:
- investing in extracurricular activities,
- creating more project-based assignments,
- displaying current actions undertaken by the European institutions on their official website;
- Calls upon Member States to encourage the participation of young people in political discourse from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds by:
- creating a national sponsorship programme to eliminate financial barriers,
- working with NGOs and advocacy groups to encourage youth engagement in politics;
- Asks all national and European political parties to develop youth wings accessible to underaged people;
- Requests every Member State to have a specific Ministry focusing on youth affairs which actively engages with young people;
- Invites national parliaments to implement quotas to ensure the presence of young politicians amongst their members;
- Proposes the Member States’ Ministries of Education, in collaboration with NGOs in related fields to develop workshops and university programmes to educate young and older politicians about new forms of digital engagement and activism;
- Further encourages the European Commission, in cooperation with influencers and using hashtags notifying political content, to organise a social media campaign that advertises existing programmes available for the participation of young people;
- Urges the European Commission to provide the conditions and resources to develop autonomous, representative, and effective bodies for youth representation;
- Further invites European politicians to continually engage with the younger generation through:
- a digital peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform,
- directly debating and discussing issues with important youth organisations.
- Calls upon the European Commission to propose the introduction of youth delegates to the European Parliament.
We want the politicians to hear the voice of the youth and for the policies to better reflect what the youth wants. By making use of digital means, we aim to politically and socially engage a diverse group of young people. To achieve this, we need to raise awareness amongst youths of varying backgrounds and empower young activists by enabling them to use digital engagement as an effective tool for change.