On 24 May 2016, the European Parliament held an event on the "Next Generation for a Debating Democracy" in collaboration with; EUJS, EP Youth Intergroup, Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup, the European Youth Forum and the European Foundation for Democracy.
The event took place with the view of opening up the floor to young minority representatives from belief and non-belief backgrounds to be heard and empower young minority voices to stand tall and defend our universal democratic values. The European Union must ensure the inclusion of young minority voices through active citizenship and inter-community bridge building programmes that specifically nominate youth minority community members as programme leaders and representatives against the backdrop of rising extremist voices from across the political and religious spectrum.
The European Youth Strategy outlines recommendations on social inclusion and active citizenship but it doesn't specifically mention ensuring youth minority voices are promoted as part of this strategy: What does the European Commission intend to do in order to enhance social inclusion and enable young people from minority groups to become active citizens? Will it make funds available for projects in the European Union to provide opportunities for young people from minorities to be involved in EU initiatives? Will you ensure that minority youth voices are given a specific role at all European youth events and that an official EU youth minority network is set-up?
MEP Miltiadis Kyrkos said: "Empowering Youth from belief and non-belief backgrounds to take an active role in the scope of the EU as equal partners in an intense dialog is the only way we can guarantee that our universal democratic values survive the test of time. We can try that if we are willing to share our views and confront them with others, not necessarily similar to our own, as we have seen today with the Next Generation for a Debating Democracy".
MEP Terry Reintke, EP Youth Intergroup Co-Chair: "Young people from minority groups are frequently socially excluded, suffer discrimination and consequently face barriers in everyday life. Therefore, we need investments to enhance social inclusion, active citizenship and self-sustainability to finally break the cycle of social exclusion and make young people get ownership of their education and way of life".
MEP Emma McClarkin, EP Youth Intergroup Bureau Member: "As a young politician, I know just how vital it is that political bodies, such as the European Parliament, listen to the voice of youth when considering and debating legislation. It is hugely important that young people with different faiths and beliefs have their voices heard and I have been inspired by the young voices here today. I urge them to continue to nurture their passion and respect for different views in politics".
MEP Brando Benifei: "EU institutions must stand for our universal and democratic values, and we should encourage youngsters to be our partners in this fight and become active citizens. Young people from minority groups have a big role to play to stop social exclusion and discrimination they still suffer and to contain the raising of extremism across Europe. Our common initiative within the European Parliament expresses a clear message: we support efforts to enhance and empower young minority's voice as an enriching and fundamental part of our society".
EUJS commends Commissioner Tibor Navracsics recent article dated 20th May identifying the importance of youth organisations to reduce rising extremism and call for the Commissioner to establish a strong network of minority youth voices to break the cycle of violent voices to allow the Next Generation of a Debating Democracy to be heard and adequately represented by EU Youth Minority Ambassadors.
Click here to watch EUJS as they lead a discussion on European minorities for the European Parliament's official broadcast, EuroparlTV