YES stands for equal dialogue between the youth and the descision makers

Last week more than 200 young Europeans from all over the continent gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria, for a 3-day event hosted by the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU. This Conference brought together young people and decision-makers, including the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Mr. Tibor Navracsics, to engage in dialogue about the future of youth in Europe.
The outcome of the hard work and dedication of the participants was the drafting of young people’s vision for youth policy in Europe, which translate into 11 new EU Youth Goals. These goals incorporated the ideas and opinions of nearly 50.000 young people across Europe who participated in consultations, debates, discussions and events on the topic “Youth in Europe: What’s next?”

In spite of the positive expectations about the event, many participants reported about practices that are completely unacceptable in the eyes of the Young European Socialists.

European Youth Forum YFJ has expressed that the lack of meaningful youth representation that occurred during some of the debates and discussions with high-level speakers made the participants of the event mere bystanders when the purpose of the conference is to include the young participants. YES finds it unacceptable that so many participants were let down by the many missed opportunities to be fully included. Also, free service of hard liquor and stripped dancers are not supposed to be a part of a publicly funded youth conference which is supposed to raise European citizens’ awareness and promote gender equality.

During the conference, young people were denied the opportunity to speak on an equal footing with the political elite of Bulgaria. Instead, they were placed in the role of spectators of the governmental order that the Ministry of Youth and Sports prepared for them. The National Youth Forum of Bulgaria and the European Youth Forum, which had to take an active part in the organization of the event, were in fact excluded from the decision-making process. This deprived the event and all participants from experience and expertise in the field of youth policies. The traditional conference within each EU Council presidency was remembered with the absolute suppression of the basic principles of the Structured Dialogue – the empowerment of young people by enabling them to be involved in the decision-making process and to communicate on an equal footing with the representatives of the authorities in the country.

YES, together with it’s bulgarian member organization BSP Youth Union and ELYA firmly stands against the actions of the government and the Ministry of Youth and Sports in particular. We believe that this behavior of the government of Bulgaria led by Mr. Boyko Borissov shows young people in the country and Europe that the government does not want to accept them as equals in the decision-making process. Bulgaria according to various reports of EU Commission, State Department of USA, Transparency International is still the poorest and most corrupted country within the EU.

We believe that Bulgaria deserves much better governance to prove that young people are really a priority of the political elite. We demand immediate actions from the government towards a sustainable change in the shaping and protection of youth policies!

YES is a full and committed member of the European Youth Forum and we share the worries of YFJ regarding the future of the dialogue with young people in European Union Youth Conferences and other platforms of discussion.

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