“Discover Europe; not only with your heart, but with all your senses.” – Anni Podimata, Vice President of the European Parliament, EYE Opening Ceremony, 9th May
As League of Young Voters ambassadors, the weekend of the 9th-11th May has long been marked on our calendars. The European Youth Event, spread over three days, is an event which brought together over 5,000 young people from all over Europe, with the aim of providing a platform for each and every one of them to speak up and debate different ideas in the form of various workshops and activities. The five main themes in focus were: youth unemployment, digital revolution, future of the European Union, sustainability and European Values.
On the first day of the EYE, appropriately, on Europe Day, we made our way to the heart of the European Institutions in Strasbourg. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by (surprisingly) pleasant sunny weather – a perfect setting for the opening ceremony which set a positive and inspiring tone for the rest of the weekend. LYV Malta was not the only Maltese delegation present – in fact we were part of a 100 strong boisterous Maltese group.
The YO!Fest, part and parcel of the EYE experience, included the set up of a YO!Village outside of Parliament, which included interactive debates, and urban area, live music and a number of stands by different organisations part of the European Youth Forum. Having organised various debates here in Malta, the LYV Malta team was eager to meet our League of Young Voters counterparts from the rest of the member states on the popular LYV stand.
We then headed to the YO!Cafe to listen to inspiring talks given by fellow youths who have contributed significantly to the youth activism, including our very own National Ambassador Andrew Micallef, who was handpicked to share with those present the work done by the LYV Malta team during our campaign.
Amongst the highlights of the workshops we attended were:
- “eu2014: Information Blog”, in which we discussed media coverage of the European Institutions with youths from Austria, Spain and Denmark. The popular opinion seemed to be that European issues are not being aptly covered by the media.
- “The Europe we want for our Future”, where we covered “Europe on Track”, winner of the Charlemagne Prize 2013. A group of young people travelled across Europe by train with the aim of engaging hundreds of young people to speak up about the European Commission’s 2020 strategy.
- “On the search for a better life in Europe: Discussing immigration through film”, where the much debated issue of immigration was tackled from an artistic perspective by panelist Andrea Segre, director of “Io sono li”, LUX Prize Winner 2012. Also on the panel were Nadine Lyamouri-Bajja, an intercultural psychologist, Inmaculada Arnaez, Frontex representative, Marie-Odile Wiederkehr, from French NGO La Cimade, and Thierno Diallo, who fled Guinea aged 15 and whose rendition of his personal experience was met by what seemed like a never-ending round of applause.
The Closing Session brought together around a 1000 of the attendees of the EYE in the hemicycle to evaluate the outcomes and “Ideas for a better Europe” gathered from the workshops, which reports on the 5 main themes are to be handed to the new incoming MEPs in July. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the highly opinionated youths present will be contesting the European elections themselves in 2019.
For us LYV Ambassadors, attending the EYE was not the fulcrum of our work but has spurred us on to work harder to share our ideas and hopefully inspire others to fully embrace our European identity!