European youth representatives, policymakers and experts attended the conference from the 11th to the 13th of July.
The conference is a part of the EU Youth Dialogue (EUYD). This initiative motivates young people to get involved in the decision-making processes that concern youth in Europe and it enables the dialogue between young people and decision-makers. The EU Youth Conference (EUYC) is always hosted by the country that holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU; Czechia is following footsteps of the last conference in France.
EUYC attendees: delegates from European youth organisations, decision-makers in the field of youth, representatives of national agencies administering the Erasmus+ programme and the European Solidarity Corps programme, and youth experts, have gathered in the Prague conference venue Cubex Centrum to discuss European goals in the area of youth. These are: inclusive society and green and sustainable Europe.
The Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Vladimír Balaš, along with Kristýna Jelínková, a delegate from the Czech Council of Children and Youth, and Themis Christophidou, the Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission, opened the conference. Next to speak were Nadia Malovana from the Embassy of Ukraine in Prague and Natalia Ševčuk, representing the Ukrainian Council of Children and Youth. They both highlighted the impact the ongoing war has on existing social issues, including sustainability and inclusion.
During the panel discussion that followed, policymakers and representatives of youth and professional public addressed the issue of improving the situation of young people in areas of inclusion, diversity, and sustainability. “What is youth policy? It’s certainly not the common practice of politicians where they invite a single young person to their meeting and let them vote. Youth policy is about young people and young people alone, and young people should create it. This is why we organised a final panel discussion only involving young people during the final conference of the European Year of Youth in Brussels, said Václav Velčovský, Vice-minister at the Czech Ministry of Education, stressing how necessary it is for young people to participate in policy-making processes. But before young people can enter these decision-making processes, they must be aware of the possibility. And that is not a certainty, especially for youth from deprived areas. “It is crucial that these areas have schools with teachers that will educate young people, support them in civic engagement, and introduce them to European Union programmes that will help them effectively react to their local problems,” said Sophia Eriksson Watershoot from the European Commission.
The European youth delegates, policymakers and experts spent their time until the end of the conference working on solutions to current challenges related to European Youth Goals. They presented their solution on the last day of the conference. In the panel discussion during the next block of the conference, the participants introduced themselves, exchanged ideas and formed workgroups. Individual workgroup outcomes will be analysed at the EUYC conference in Sweden in 2023.