Strong JEF presence at EYE 2018 as Strasbourg recovers from rain

, by Angelique Truijens, Juuso Järviniemi

All the versions of this article: [English] [Nederlands]

Strong JEF presence at EYE 2018 as Strasbourg recovers from rain
Photograph: Juuso Järviniemi

The European Youth Event, hosting approximately eight thousand young Europeans, began on Friday. With the additional staff, speakers and volunteers, this amount grows quickly to up to 10 000 people. The Parliament building was in full capacity and beyond as minds packed with ideas and enthusiasm made Strasbourg their home for the weekend.

In the morning, the EYE was opened by a plenary session in the hemicycle of the European Parliament (i.e. where the MEPs hold their plenary debates whilst in Strasbourg). The ‘headliner’ of the debate was the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani. Though Tajani was diplomatic and a true politician when answering questions from participants, he did manage to provide a sufficient answer to most of the inquiries. The main focal point was, obviously considering the age group that the participants mostly belong to, the youth participation in politics and the upcoming elections to the European Parliament 2019. However, students from all over the world, including Russia, Denmark, France or China, asked various questions: about the relationship between climate change and security, data protection and the threat of a trade war with the United States.

Yo!Fest: Recovery after devastation, and TNF’s workshop

After a quick coffee break, Angelique headed outside to check out the YoFest! festival organised by the European Youth Forum. The storm of Thursday night devastated most of the preparations, but the volunteers had worked very hard to get YoFest! back on again. They succeeded. When Angelique went outside, music was playing and various different workshops were taking place about different topics - climate change (and how to stop it), youth activism and organisation, gender equality and its effects on societal norms, diversity and more.

The YoFest! village also was where The New Federalist’s Juuso hosted a workshop on citizen journalism. The discussion was centred around the blurred line between citizen journalism and activism. Judge for yourself: would a person turn from a journalist into an activist if they asked the exact same question, “How will Brexit benefit the British people?”, but wearing different clothes? The workshop, arranged by JEF-Europe in the Digital Revolution Hub, is set to continue with its second part on Saturday morning.

Highlights from JEF: New visions, stimulating workshops

Céline Geissmann, Executive Board member of JEF-Europe, spoke at the European Parliament hemicycle in the morning to present a vision for a European constitution. In a speech delivered from the podium in the plenary chamber, Céline called for a constitutional convention to draft a constitution for the EU, to be subjected to a Europe-wide referendum by 2024. At the European Youth Event, staunchly pro-European views are in the mainstream, but JEF is invariably capable of bringing new ideas to the debate. You cannot get an ambitious yet concrete roadmap towards a better Europe from any other youth movement than JEF!

JEF sections contributed to JEF’s strong presence at the European Youth Event by organising well-attended and intellectually stimulating workshops. JEF-France arranged a variety of activities, notably including a workshop about citizen conventions. Fitting the spirit of the European Youth Event, the discussion focused on the idea for a European youth convention. Again, the workshop makes a practical contribution to the idea of a European constitution, adopted by the people, which many often perceive as distant or abstract.

Meanwhile, the UK section introduced a little-discussed question into the ongoing debate on Brexit. While within the UK, public debate is focused on whether the people can vote on the final Brexit deal once it has been agreed, Young European Movement UK (JEF-UK) brought in the Europe-wide perspective: Is the UK still welcome to stay in the EU if it so wishes, or should the rest of the EU ignore a possible Article 50 revocation? After a lively and detailed debate, the attendees concluded that the case for letting the UK stay was presented better. In the unpredictable weather of Strasbourg, the spirit of European solidarity that underpins EYE extends across the English Channel.

Angelique and Juuso will report on the second and concluding day of EYE on Sunday.

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