Young people: The pulsing heart of the Future of Europe

By March 19, 2018 March 22nd, 2018 MEDIA

By Anna Widegren,
Secretary General, European Youth Forum

The future of Europe is a Europe where young people will grow up and grow old. We are the pulsing heart of Europe, and we are burning for a better and brighter future.

Despite this fact that young people are the present and future of our societies, it amazes me how often young people are shut out of negotiations about how our future should be structured. This historically systemic blocking from decision makers must stop.

We are often being pointed at and labeled as the angry youth. But youth has a lot of things to be angry about when it comes to how our future is being jeopardised:

  • We are angry at unsustainable consumption habits, that so much food goes to waste while many people still starve, and so much plastic is used unnecessarily, clogging our seas and oceans and destroying their delicate ecosystems forever.
  • We are angry that our rights have become empty words, inaccessible to us and are easy for governments to violate and that inequality continues to spiral out of control, with those who need the most help are seeing their rights decimated

The label as the angry youth has legitimacy. However, we are also defined by our relentless will and commitment to improve the status quo. Every day I am inspired by the actions and drive of young people to change the world for the better, to be more inclusive and ensure equal opportunities for all. We dream of and fight for a Europe which is based on our values and where are policies reflect our current and future needs rising above individual interests, putting citizens at the centre of our decisions. A Europe which works for the people and the planet. A Europe which we want to be a part of shaping, where we are able to access our rights. Not just for me, but for all.

I am part of a young generation that is willing to take the responsibility of the future of Europe, and trust me – I am not alone. Right now there is a momentum to bring the discussion the future of Europe on the forefront. It has been a discussion that has captured the attention of the political leadership of Europe. We are seizing this moment to the fullest by bringing the voices and needs of young people to these discussions. The time is ripe to ensure that the change we are longing to see is sustainable and will also benefit the generations that will follow us.

We need a future of Europe where we no longer angry. Invite us in to sit at the table. Let us with pulsing hearts fight for the Europe we dream of.

We are angry and not satisfied with politicians that only speak for those who will get them the most votes and do not take into account our future when making decisions. It is our right to be heard.