Brussels, June 27, 2024

A fresh, stimulating and dynamic discussion on the future of the European Union (EU) was held yesterday at STAM Europa in Brussels. Organised by Stand Up for Europe in collaboration with the Intercultural Dialogue Platform and JEF Belgium, the event brought together newly elected Members of the European Parliament, political analysts, civil society representatives, and over 50 enthusiastic participants. The primary focus was on analysing the results of the recent 2024 European Parliament elections and their implications for the next five years, with a particular emphasis on youth priorities and expectations.

The event began with a warm welcome and introduction by Sebastian Berchesan, Executive Secretary at Stand Up for Europe, who also served as the evening’s moderator. Following a brief presentation of the speakers, Suzana Carp, European Climate and Energy Policy Specialist from the ECIT Foundation, took the floor. In her address, Ms. Carp underscored the urgent need for Europe to bolster its competitiveness, deepen its integration, and reaffirm its commitment to the Green Deal. She provided concrete examples, highlighting the necessity of investing in research and innovation to maintain a competitive edge and the importance of cohesive policies that strengthen EU integration. Among her suggestions were the creation of transnational lists and allowing citizens to vote for representatives beyond their own countries, thereby strengthening the EU identity of its citizens. Her insights set a robust foundation for the evening’s discussions, emphasising the critical role of sustainable development in Europe’s future.

The second speaker, Anna Strolenberg, a newly elected 28-year-old MEP from the Netherlands representing the Greens, spoke passionately about her motivations for entering politics and her priorities as a young MEP. Ms. Strolenberg outlined several areas she aims to focus on during her current mandate, including asylum and migration, freedom of the press, agriculture, and youth engagement. Building on Suzana Carp’s reflections on enhanced EU integration, she emphasised the importance of deepening the integration process and adopting a more European perspective rather than a national one.

Ludmila Malai, Youth Activist and EU Project Manager at the Intercultural Dialogue Platform (IDP), presented the organisation’s position paper focusing on critical issues such as democracy and human rights, press freedom, civic engagement among youth, and intercultural dialogue. She reiterated the need for a vibrant democracy and continued efforts to preserve democracy in Europe through active citizen engagement. Malai stressed that human rights are non-negotiable and must be upheld under all circumstances, including for migrants and refugees. According to the IDP, while a clearly articulated common implementation plan is needed for the recently adopted Pact on Asylum and Migration, policymakers must strive for continuous amendments and improvements to the document. She also pointed to the need to vigorously defend press freedom, noting that the release of Julian Assange after a plea deal could set a dangerous precedent for investigative journalists.

As a youth activist, Malai argued that Europe should invest heavily in youth leadership programs, civic initiatives, and skill-building workshops to empower young people with the knowledge, confidence, and tools they need to become effective advocates and leaders, including political decision-makers. Finally, as a representative of the Intercultural Dialogue Platform, she highlighted the vital role of intercultural dialogue in addressing rising polarisation in Europe and building more cohesive societies.

Following the presentation of the position paper, panellists and participants engaged in a lively discussion with numerous comments and questions. Anna Strolenberg expressed her openness to receiving concrete ideas and proposals, particularly concerning youth issues, and declared her commitment to making a significant impact during her mandate. Referring to the pillar of democracy, she underlined the need to follow up on the results of the Conference on the Future of Europe and other participatory and deliberative practices with citizens, making sure that such practices, instead of bringing citizens closer to policymakers, do not alienate them further in case of failure to translate citizens’ recommendations into real policies. 

After a series of questions and interesting reflections from the audience, the panel continued with an in-depth analysis of the election results per country by JEF Belgium representative Thomas De Cuyper, including voting trends, youth turnout and the wider implications for EU policies and governance.

The event concluded with a final round of questions from the audience, followed by an informal networking session where participants continued their discussions over drinks. This provided a valuable opportunity for young people, civil society representatives and speakers to connect and exchange ideas in a more relaxed setting.

The event successfully achieved its objective of fostering dialogue between experts, policymakers and young Europeans. The discussions at STAM Europa reiterated the importance of involving young people in shaping a resilient and forward-looking European Union and highlighted the collective commitment to ensure that young people’s voices are heard and considered in the EU’s policy-making processes.