During her annual State of the Union speech, President Von der Leyen focused on various issues, including a new course for young Europeans. She also announced that the year 2022 would be dedicated to the European youth!
Young Europeans were undoubtedly one of the focal points of this year’s President Von der Leyen’s State of the Union speech. It does not come as a surprise: the effects of the restrictions due to the pandemic have been particularly burdensome on the younger generations. Furthermore, 2022 will see the end of the Conference on the Future of Europe, which should lay the foundations for reimagining European society to adapt to future generations’ aspirations.
A new programme to help young Europeans have temporary work experience in a different Member State, suggestively named ALMA, will soon be initiated: “Because they too deserve an experience like Erasmus. To gain skills, to create bonds and help forge their own European identity. But if we are to shape our Union in their mould, young people must be able to shape Europe’s future. Our Union needs a soul and a vision they can connect to: as Jacques Delors once asked, how can we ever build Europe if young people do not see it as a collective project and a vision of their own future?”.
The President also underlined that young Europeans strongly believe in Europe’s responsibility towards the planet and that they were strongly affected by restrictions driven by the pandemic. Taking her words, “This is our most educated, talented and motivated generation. And it has missed out on so much to keep others safe. Being young is normally a time of discovery, of creating new experiences. A time to meet lifelong friends, to find your own path. And what did we ask this generation to do? To keep their social distance, to stay locked down and to do school from home. For more than a year. This is why everything we do – from the European Green Deal to NextGenerationEU – is about protecting their future”.
These great words of acknowledgement come in as work on the Conference for the Future of Europe is at its peak. Ms Von der Leyen added that, since these are decisions concerning the future of Europe, the Commission will make sure that they are the ones who lead the debate on the necessary changes. The next Commission will have to implement the resulting suggestions based on the young Europeans’ determination in changing the world for the better.