110,000s of young people have developed within the Structured Dialogue of the European the European Youth Goals. How are you going to integrate the framework of the youth goals in your work in the European parliament?
EPP (European People’s Party): We have been very impressed by the clarity and content of the 11 EU Youth Goals. We believe that we are strong partners and allies in realising the goals. We are committed to bringing Europe back to the people to foster participation and joint ownership of the European project. We are strongly in favour of inclusive societies in which all people are provided with a security net, educational opportunities, and offered economic opportunities to realise their dreams. We want to ensure that all people, whether urban or rural dweller, have economic opportunities. That’s why we will invest in strengthening all of our regions and we will create five million jobs over the next years. We are the party that is putting health on the EU’s agenda and we are committed to battling diseases by combining our strengths and that’s why we want to establish a European Masterplan against cancer. We believe that we must leave the planet in a better shape to our children and that’s why we are fully committed to Paris and Katowice climate accords.
S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats): Youth has always been in the heart of our action. Through our political initiatives and our political stance, we have already worked on integrating in our parliamentary work the views of young people of Europe as defined in framework of the Youth Goals. We will continue to stand for the same goals through our work in the European parliamentary committees and interparliamentary meetings, through our political initiatives and actions, through our international relations as well as seminars and conferences organised by our political group. We believe also that we can support the implementation of the EU Youth Goals through our cooperation with the European Commission and monitoring of its work, namely in the fields of education, youth, social, and civic engagement policies.
LYMEC (European Liberal Youth, youth wing of ALDE): We are already working on the majority of the youth goals, as an integral part of our policies, so we will definitely continue promoting them towards and in the European Parliament.
GUE-NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left): Our MEPs have advocated for most, if not all, of the EU youth goals. For example, our group consistently pushes for policies and action to tackle gender discrimination, gender-based violence and unequal pay. We also want more and better support for young people in rural areas.
European Greens: The Youth Goals align very well with the priorities of the European Greens – for example in terms of gender equality, quality jobs, access to education and sustainability. Our track record shows that we bring these priorities into the European Parliament and fight for them. The Greens also put a special emphasis on making the voices of young people heard, which can be seen in our good relations with youth organisations and in young leading Green figures. We open up more space for youth in decision-making.
Youth Goal 9 calls for providing youth-led physical facilities and infrastructures called youth spaces defined by being autonomous, open and safe, accessible to all, offering professional support for development and ensuring opportunities for youth participation. What do you want to do to create such spaces?
EPP (European People’s Party): We believe that we must help our youth by offering them better economic opportunities and support them in reaching their personal development goals. Youth Goal 9 can be an important facilitator by offering our youth more chances to learn and participate in leading something of their own. We must evaluate what the EU programmes can do to facilitate this but we are also convinced that we need a strong buy-in from the national and, especially regional and local levels, to fulfil this goal.
S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats): The question on infrastructure for the youth is important for the S&D Group and we led the two main reports in the committee on Regional development (REGI) in order to use the investments funds to support this political goal. Three main achievements we reached: (1) First of all, on the overall Common Provisions Regulations (CPR), which sets the binding rules for seven EU funds, that fought and voted in favour of the Child guarantee. (2) Secondly, on the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF) we also have a special focus on children’s rights. In Recital 5 we got through the following political line: “The Funds should not support actions that contribute to any form of segregation. Investments under the ERDF, in synergy with ESF+, should contribute to promoting social inclusion and fighting poverty, and to raising citizens’ quality of life in line with the obligations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to contribute to children’s rights.” The first part (“not support actions that contribute to any form of segregation”) refers to the wish also of NGOs in the family sector as for example “Eurochild” to reduce intuitional care and focus on community-based and family-based investments. (3) Thirdly, also on ERDF-CF, we ensure in the legally binding policy objective 4 (on social issues) a focus which supports youth-led physical facilities and infrastructures. The legal text reads in Article 2(d) the following: Investments in “improving equal access to inclusive and quality services in education, training and lifelong learning and sport through developing accessible infrastructure and services.” As well as “advancing the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care”. (4) Finally, as the S&D in the European Parliament, we believe that the young should participate in decision-making and have fair access to quality jobs. We do wish to strengthen young people’s democratic participation and autonomy. Therefore, we fight to give young people a voice to shape EU policies and to guarantee equal opportunities in the labour market and quality long-term jobs.
LYMEC (European Liberal Youth, youth wing of ALDE): As a pan-european organisation we are more focused on the participatory part of the 9th goal (Strengthen young people’s democratic participation) but we are in favour of advocating for physical spaces as well.
GUE-NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left): We want more investment in youth schemes and infrastructure.
European Greens: Greens have always been at the forefront of recognising the importance of autonomous, open and safe spaces in society. On local level around Europe, we work for more public or autonomous spaces and less enclosures and exclusion. On a European level, we see a need for more exchange on best practices on how to create and organise such spaces.
What do you want to do for guaranteeing the implementation of the children’s rights in Europe?
EPP (European People’s Party): We want to defend and strengthen Human rights and children’s rights in Europe. Children are our future and we are a continent based on values. We will continue to support programmes that support and defend children’s rights in Europe but we also want to take this one step further. We demand that we take a bigger role in the global fight against child labour. In the future, we will demand that a ban on child labour will be part of every trade agreement and we will step up the enforcement and supervision of the ban.
S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats): We S-D were always of the view that how Europe treats its children will definitely determine its future.
We were at the vanguard ensuring that every child can exercise the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the child (UNCRC). Treating every child as a child, irrespective of social or ethnic background, gender, ability or migration status was, is and will be of utmost importance for us. Therefore, the S-D Group has a strong record on recognising the value of children’s own views and experience, and enabling them to participate meaningfully in all decisions affecting their right lives. We have been very strong in addressing the root causes of child violations by tackling poverty, discrimination and social exclusion and protecting against violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. More concretely, we ensured that children who are suspected or accused of a crime get a fair trial: It was high time that all EU Member States recognise the right of anyone under 18 to be assisted by a lawyer and to be accompanied by the holder of parental responsibility. We also made sure that judges, prosecutors, and other professionals who deal with criminal proceedings involving children get special training. In criminal proceedings fundamental rights are particularly relevant, namely those of children. Last but not least, being present at the highest political level representing the organisations defenders of the rights of the child the S-D Group is of the view that more has to be done in early childhood, health care, quality education as well as community – based care and rehabilitation services.
LYMEC (European Liberal Youth, youth wing of ALDE): We want to recall that every Member State of the European Union are committed to protecting the Children’s Rights and make sure that the EU makes sure they live up to this obligation.
GUE-NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left): Some of our MEPs are supporters of the Child Rights Manifesto. Recently we took a stand to guarantee equal child social security standards across the EU.
European Greens: Alarming rates of children in different EU member states are at risk of poverty or social exclusion. We need to end child poverty and inequality by investing in children. Investments in healthcare, education and environmental protection benefit children the most. Actively working against discrimination is positive especially for girls and migrant children. We must also recognise that children have rights beyond Europe’s borders and that Europe must foster peace and humanitarian aid instead of selling weapons that end up harming children in e.g. Yemen.