It was to a full house and with a discussion covering items on the European agenda that the “Young People and the Conference on the Future of Europe” event was held. It brought together around 30 young people in a talk with the Portuguese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, the Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica and the Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ana Paula Zacarias.
At the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon, the young people from a number of different youth associations asked the political representatives questions about the main items they want to see discussed and proposed in the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Among the different topics covered, of note was the need to ensure gender equality and equal opportunities for all in the EU, a reinforced Erasmus programme to ensure equity and closer monitoring of European funds.
Stricter penalties for corruption or violation of the fundamental rights of the EU, such as the rule of law, were also pointed to as priorities. Housing was another issue in the spotlight for the future of young people, a policy on which the EU must reflect and act due to the increasing difficulties faced by young people in ensuring decent housing.
Strengthening the sense of a European identity and reinforcing democracy in order to fight populism, as well as broader citizen participation in the choice of the leaders of European institutions, were some of the topics raised by the audience.
The event, organised by the Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, is one of the initiatives of the Conference on the Future of Europe and preceded the first plenary session of the conference, to be held in Strasbourg on 19 June.
The Conference on the Future of Europe, a joint initiative by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, is aimed at giving citizens an active voice on issues they believe most relevant to the future of the European Union.