Young people have spoken. 10,000 participants with 2,000 ideas, young people all over Europe gathered in Strasbourg this October to discuss how to shape the future of the EU, and their proposals do not disappoint.
From climate change to COVID-19 to international security, European youths took this opportunity to their advantage to do something many politicians should do, but don’t; present concrete proposals.
This all happened during the European Youth Event 2021: Proposals for the Future of Europe while the 20 most popular proposals were presented in front of parliament on the 22nd and 23rd October.
Here’s a helpful video to explain the amazing project:
Without further ado, here are some of the main proposals
1. Making Recycling Easier
“Member States currently have diverging approaches to recycling policies, which results in disruption to recycling habits and huge amounts of waste,” the proposal said.
This is why a standardised recycling system that applies to the whole continent is needed.
One suggestion is the implementation of reverse vending machines through which citizens will pay a small fee whenever purchasing packaged goods that will be returned to them when they deposit the packaging into vending machines,
For this to work, manufacturing and material use must be unified, they said.
For efficiency’s sake, the youths suggested that this system be implemented with a significant transition period to allow adjustments in production and time to educate people on these new practices.
Mandatory labels could also help inform customers about this new system along with where to recycle their waste, the youths explained.
2. Green Equality Within Business
Environmentally detrimental corporations remain dominant in the economic market, leaving almost no room for greener companies to compete.
Therefore, to ensure that economic growth is ecological, EU institutions should remove all incentives to remove fossil fuels, the proposal said.
Such funds can instead be repurposed to develop eco-friendly initiatives within small sustainable business ventures.
“For example, we can make access to credit more flexible for smaller companies who respect green trends and practices.”
They also added the need for subsidisation of local markets where small business farmers can sell local produce to nearby consumers, shifting the focus from the products of large supermarkets.
3. Hold Companies Accountable
Natural disasters are byproducts of climate change that threaten the health of people all across Europe, and frankly, the world.
Floods, droughts, toxic waste and air pollution are often exacerbated by human activity and this is why youths are calling for companies to be held accountable for the damage they do to nature.
“Companies should be sanctioned for damage to the environment, and subsequent consequences on public health especially since it is often the public and their funds that pay for general healthcare and welfare,” they said.
“We need to immediately come up with a strategy to measure company waste and pollution in cities; we can look at rising chronic disease and allergy rates as markers for local pollution and damage to population health.”
4. Education on the Safe Use of Social Media
Education on safe social media will equip all generations to better deal with cyber threats and use social media with tolerance and respect, the proposal said.
To do this, the European youths want to integrate digital literacy into the school curriculum, use interactive games as learning tools, create a simulated social media platform so children can learn about the danger of cyber attacks and avoid the real-life consequences and Celebrate international digital days, during which children will be provided with practical and theoretical lessons.
5. Equal rights for LGBTQI +
“The EU can and should define attacks against the LGBT+ community as hate crimes.”
This proposal calls for European support of bottom-up initiatives, by promoting awareness of LGBT+ issues, and empowering regional and national activist groups.
Such support should take place in the form of an action plan, event production, new LGBT+ publications and funded group initiatives. Along with informing communities about the struggles that these marginalised communities are facing, and the rights that they lack.
6. Support for young refugee scholars
This proposal is urging the EU to fund a program that gives access to EU universities to refugee students and scholars.
They are suggesting for European universities to liaise with the UNHCR to award refugees who meet the requirements of a specific knowledge criteria. Discrimination on the grounds of origins or ethnicity should be strongly prohibited.
The EU should provide support to interested candidates and funds for NGOs that support the prospective students during the application process. Once accepted, refugee scholars should have access to preparatory training if needed.
A central European fund would be the best way to sponsor universities that accept refugee students while supporting primary needs such as accommodation, food, and language courses.
7. Improving School Curriculum
European schools need to offer a more useful and practical education, and include subjects relevant to life in the contemporary world, such as mental health awareness, sex education, digital and financial literacy, environmental education and intercultural skills, the proposal explained.
Intercultural skills and knowledge about the benefits and opportunities within Europe.
“If schools help to strengthen both, we could create a more vibrant, diverse and engaged society in which we are one Europe, working towards common goals and actively engaging with the world.”
The proposals don’t end here. There are another 13 of these detailed suggestions in this report that perfectly exemplify the concerns of EU youths today.
Now it’s time for the parliament to put this conference to use by implementing the voices of youths and create real generational change.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
What do you think about these proposals?