#3rdYoungCitizens’FutureLab took place from 14 to 18 January 2019 in Nice
From 14 to 18 January 2019 the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE) organised the #3rdYoungCitizens’FutureLab within the #EngageEU-project, coordinated by the Institut für Europäische Politik and co-funded by the EU’s Europe for Citizens Programme. The #3rdYoungCitizens’FutureLab in and around Nice followed an intergenerational approach and reached out into the schools of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. After preparatory workshops with the participants in December and early January, the main workshop phase took place in January. A group of 30 master students had prepared workshop sessions on the topics migration, environment, foreign policy, gender equality and European identity. Altogether 160 high- and middle school students then took part in the workshops, thinking about their ideas for the future of the European Union in these fields. To disseminate the results of the workshops, a public event with distinguished journalists from Germany and Greece and a French judge and former EP-candidate was organised at the Franco-German Cultural Centre (CCFA) in Nice to discuss the policy ideas together with the participants on 25 February 2019. #EngagEU is a broad consultation process in Germany, France and Poland, that invites young citizens to develop their ideas for the future of the EU. It aims at strengthening the voice of young citizens in the runup to the European elections that take place between 23 and 26 May 2019.
During a first preparation workshop in December 2018, the international master students were presented the project and started to conceptually prepare the workshops in the schools in January, that would be co-led by the students. After an analysis of past visions for the future of Europe and an introduction to non-formal methods of political and civic education they identified the most important topics and policy areas at the EU level, on which they would like the high- and middle-school students to work. The five policy areas that emerged after a clustering were migration, environment, foreign policy, gender equality and European identity. At the same time, the high-school students of Centre international de Valbonne, aged 17 to 18, as well as the middle-school students of Collège Mistral, aged 14–15, also followed introductory workshops on different aspects of the European Union and Europe. They discussed the influence of the European Union on their daily lives, their personal meaning of “Europe”, advantages and disadvantages of a community such as the European Union, the possible accession of new member states as well as their opinion on how the EU would look like in 20 years. These introductory workshops showed that especially the younger students have a very personal and emotional take on “Europe”.
In the second week of January, 160 students participated in the #YoungCitizens’FutureLab co-led by the master students. In the workshops on Foreign Policy, the students discussed current foreign policy issues the EU faces. To conclude, participants of this workshop had to create a fictional country that they considered to be the “Perfect partner for the EU”. Some of the policy ideas developed in this group were:
- The EU should only admit countries which share the EU’s values, with good governance and a stable economy
- The EU has a duty to protect all people around the world. The EU’s priority should be to promote peace around the world.
- The EU should develop its military policy. It needs reliable economic and military allies.
The second workshop group on environmental policy had a critical, dynamical and cross-cultural discussion on the topic. The most critical aspects for the future of the EU being discussed were overpopulation, animal agriculture, rising ocean levels, biodiversity, and waste disposal. Some of the policy ideas that emerged in this group were:
- The EU should set the example for the rest of the world. In doing so, the Union should set higher requirements and norms in the field of environment
- Food waste should be used in an environmentally responsible manner and there should be campaigns to raise awareness
- The EU should work to reduce the number of cars on the road at one time by introducing incentives that encourage the use of public transportation such as making it free or at least affordable and by introducing road taxes for popular areas to reduce the flow of vehicles
In a third workshop group on migration the students got to share personal experiences about interaction with foreigners and discussed the problems and regular and irregular migrants can face in the EU as well as possible solutions to these problems. Some of the policy ideas that emerged were:
- Integration centres with cultural and language classes and basic help for migrants should be created and supported on the EU-level
- New regulations and laws should be introduced to facilitate migrants’ integration into the labour market (Example: on recognition of diplomas)
- More funds should be allocated to facilitate migrants’ integration. In addition, a public fund where individuals can donate to supplement the EU budget for migration and integration should be established
The fourth workshop dealt with ways to strengthen European identity. The workshop had a broad approach to sensitising the pupils for the different cultural, linguistic and socio-economic aspects of a common European identity. The following policy ideas emerged during this workshop:
- The EU should keep protecting and base its actions on the principles of respect, unity, peace, solidarity and transparency
- A minimum wage across the EU should be set so that the living standards in the different EU Member States becomes standardised
- The EU should work to make healthcare ever more accessible
A last workshop group tried to sensitise the students for the issue of gender equality and develop ideas for action to be taken on the EU level. The following results emerged from this group:
- In the workplace, there should be a European initiative for equal pay for women and men for the same positions
- In education, there should be a campaign to raise awareness for the power dynamic of boys and girls in the classroom
At the end of the week, the master students worked to wrap up the results of these school-workshops. They were finally presented in a public event on 25 February 2019 in Nice and discussed on the podium with Nils Minkmar, a German journalist (Der Spiegel), George Tzogopoulos, a Greek journalist from Athens, Sara Kibler, rapporteur of the 1st and 2nd #YoungCitizens’FutureLabs in Germany, Carolina de Albuquerque, rapporteur of the #3rdYoungCitizens’FutureLab and Christophe Tukov, a French judge, moderated by the Nice-based journalist Annika Joeres (Die Zeit). The 60 guests at the event followed an interesting discussion at the Franco-German Cultural Centre in Nice. The discussants concluded, that the European Union can only be well prepared for the future if it becomes a political project again, and if it assumes its normative position as a role model in different policy areas.
Author: Marcel Saur