European Youth Week takes place every two years. It celebrates and promotes activities targeted at young people through events organised in all countries participating in the Erasmus+ programme.
From 29 April until 5 May, the ninth edition of European Youth Week is taking place across Europe. This year’s theme is “Democracy and me”. Alongside activities taking place all week in all participating countries, on 29 and 30 April flagship events in Brussels will bring together hundreds of young people to make their voices heard.
With a view to the upcoming European Parliament elections from 23 to 26 May, debates during this year’s European Youth Week will focus on how young people can be active in their communities and influence democratic decisions.
On 30 April, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, will host a Citizens’ Dialogue with young people, as well as a flagship debate in the European Parliament in Brussels, gathering more than 800 youth who will discuss democratic participation as well as the impact of the European Solidarity Corps on young people, NGOs and local communities.
Ahead of the European Youth Week, Commissioner Navracsics said: “I applaud this generation of young Europeans who are active, committed and ready to support others. Almost 125,000 young people have now registered for the European Solidarity Corps, clearly indicating young people’s will to engage in society. Our latest Eurobarometer survey on youth reveals that three out of four young people say they have been active in some form of civic activity, be it voting, joining a movement, signing a petition online or volunteering. I am proud and encourage young people to mobilise their peers to vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections so they have a voice in shaping their future.”
The results of a Eurobarometer survey released today show that for more than two thirds of young people (67%), priority number one for EU action over the next ten years should be protecting the environment and fighting climate change. The second and third priorities they identified are improving education and training, including free movement of students, apprentices or pupils (56%) and fighting poverty, economic and social inequalities (56%). In addition, 72% of young people interviewed say that, from the moment they were allowed to participate in elections until today, they voted in local, national, or European elections. The survey addressed around 11,000 young people aged between 15 and 30 years old in March 2019. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss these and other topics at European Youth Week events.
Moreover, this afternoon (29 April), Commissioner Navracsics will present the results of the 2018 Altiero Spinelli Awards for Outreach. This edition of the Altiero Spinelli Prize had a particular focus on young people and will reward projects that enhance their critical awareness of the European Union and their motivation to participate in the democratic processes that will shape its future. This edition attracted 79 applications and the five winning projects will be awarded at an event in Brussels.
European Youth Week takes place every two years. It celebrates and promotes activities targeted at young people through events organised in all countries participating in the Erasmus+ programme. In addition to the Brussels flagship events, hundreds of activities and events are being organised locally. During the previous European Youth Week in 2017, 112,000 young people participated all across Europe and North Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Turkey.
One of the main topics of this year’s edition, the European Solidarity Corps, was announced by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his 2016 State of the Union address. It offers young people between the ages of 18 and 30 the opportunity to take part in a wide range of solidarity activities across the EU and beyond. Since its launch on 7 December 2016, almost 125,000 young people have registered for the European Solidarity Corps, and almost 15,000 participants started their activity.
The Altiero Spinelli Awards are a European Parliament initiative implemented by the European Commission, awarded for the first time in 2017. The Awards aim at putting the spotlight on outstanding works that enhance citizens’ understanding of the European Union and their motivation to participate in democratic processes.
The Commission will also publish during the 2019 European Youth Week new figures on the uptake of the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative. The Youth Guarantee is a flagship initiative of the EU to foster youth employment, by making sure all young people under 25 receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, apprenticeship or traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.
Conditions worsen for stranded migrants along Belarus-EU border
At least eight people have died along the border between Belarus and the European Union, where multiple groups of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants have been stranded for weeks in increasingly dire conditions.
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, appealed for urgent action on Friday, to save lives and prevent further suffering at the border with Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. The latest casualty was reported within the past few days.
UNHCR warned that the situation will further and rapidly deteriorate as winter approaches, putting more lives in danger.
For the Agency’s Regional Director for Europe, Pascale Moreau, “when fundamental human rights are not protected, lives are at stake.”
“It is unacceptable that people have died, and the lives of others are precariously hanging in the balance. They are held hostage by a political stalemate which needs to be solved now,” he said.
According to media reports, the EU regards the increase in asylum seekers at the border, a direct result of Belarus, in effect, weaponizing migrants, in retaliation for sanctions placed on the Government over the suppression of the protest movement following last year’s disputed re-election of President Lukashenko.
Among those stranded are 32 Afghan women, men and children. They have been left in limbo between Poland and Belarus since mid-August, unable to access asylum and any form of assistance. They do not have proper shelter and no secure source of food or water.
A group of 16 Afghans tried to cross into Poland this week, but they were apprehended and not allowed to apply for asylum. They were also denied access to legal assistance. Within a few hours, they were pushed back across the border to Belarus.
So far, UNHCR has not been granted access to meet with the group from the Polish side, despite repeated requests, and only met them a few times from the Belarusian side to deliver life-saving aid.
The Agency has been advocating for the group to be granted asylum, since the Afghans have expressed their wish to settle either in Belarus or in Poland.
The request has been ignored by both sides. For UNHCR, that is “a clear violation of international refugee law and international human rights law.”
“We urge Belarus and Poland, as signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, to abide by their international legal obligations and provide access to asylum for those seeking it at their borders.
“Pushbacks, that deny access to territory and asylum, violate human rights in breach of international law”, said Mr. Moreau.
UNHCR urges the authorities to determine and address humanitarian and international protection needs, and find viable solutions. The agency also stands ready to support refugees, together with other relevant stakeholders.
“People must be able to exercise their rights where they are, be it in Belarus or in Poland or other EU States where they may be located. This must include the possibility to seek asylum, access to legal aid, information and appropriate accommodation”, Mr. Moreau concluded.
Focus on the recovery from the pandemic at the 19th EU Regions Week
The annual European Week of Regions and Cities has shown how the EU and national and regional governments can support European citizens and their local communities with public policies aimed at investing in a fairer, greener and more digital future for recovery. Under the theme ‘Together for Recovery’, more than 300 sessions, including debates with high-profile officials, regional and local representatives, an inspiring Citizens’ Dialogue, various workshops as well as an Award for outstanding young journalists, celebrated the EU values of cohesion and solidarity.
Taking place in a hybrid format, with sessions both physical and virtual, the 19th EU Regions Week had one main mission: highlighting the role of EU investments in the recovery from the pandemic and in facing common challenges. The event kicked off with a press conference with Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, who underlined that “Cohesion Policy was one of the first responders in the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, driven by the core value of EU solidarity”.
The second annual local and regional barometer was presented by Apostolos Tzitzikostas, followed by a debate with members of the European Committee of the Regions. The report confirmed that the pandemic related measures put at risk regional and local finances, resulting in a 180 billion budget cut for local and regional authorities across Europe. At the same time, 1 in 3 local and regional politicians want regions and cities to become more influential in EU policy-making on health issues.
“Unless we measure the state of our regions and cities, we cannot understand the state of our Union” said Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions. “Only by taking the pulse of our communities, we can decide how effective the EU has been on the ground, and what the EU needs to do to help its people”.
Further taking stock of the EU cohesion policy response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as informing the general public, various workshops touched upon life before and after the pandemic, including explanations regarding the role of regions and cities for a Green Transition, the Cohesion Policy 2021-2027 and NextGenerationEU, as well as the CRII, CRII+, React-EU support packages for regional and local healthcare services and equipment.
Young journalists were also invited to take part in the EU Regions Week 2021, getting the opportunity to debate with Elisa Ferreira at the Citizens’ Dialogue. In the Youth4Regions programme for aspiring journalists, Irene Barahona Fernandez from Spain and Jack Ryan from Ireland won the 2021 Megalizzi-Niedzielski prize for aspiring journalists.
About the event
In total, more than 12 000 participants and 900 speakers joined the 4-day event either physically or online, showing engagement in all corners of EU society – from our vibrant youth to our high-profile officials, local and regional representatives, academic experts and professional specialists, displaying a common readiness to tackle what the future holds, together.
EU and Qatar sign landmark aviation agreement
The European Union and the State of Qatar today signed a comprehensive air transport agreement, upgrading rules and standards for flights between Qatar and the EU. The agreement sets a new global benchmark by committing both sides to fair competition, and by including social and environmental protection. The signing means new opportunities for consumers, airlines and airports in Qatar and the EU.
Qatar is an increasingly important aviation partner for the EU. It was the 15th largest extra-EU market in 2019 with 6.3 million passengers travelling between the EU and Qatar. Ensuring open and fair competition for air services between both is therefore crucial, also for routes between the EU and Asia.
Adina Vălean, Commissioner for mobility and transport, said: “This agreement, the first one between the EU and the Gulf region, is a global benchmark for forward-looking aviation agreements. It is testimony to our shared commitment to economically, socially and environmentally sustainable aviation, based on a modern framework covering fair competition and closer cooperation on social and environmental matters. This agreement will bring new opportunities, more choice and higher standards for passengers, industry and aviation workers.”
Today’s agreement creates a level playing field that is expected to result in new air transport opportunities and economic benefits for both sides:
- All EU airlines will be able to operate direct flights from any airport in the EU to Qatar and vice versa for Qatari airlines.
- EU airports in Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands will be subject to a gradual build-up of capacity until 2024. For more details on this, see the Q&A.
- Strong provisions on open and fair competition will guarantee a level playing field.
- The parties recognised the importance of social matters, agreed to cooperate on these and to improve their respective social and labour laws and policies as per their international commitments.
The agreement will facilitate people-to-people contacts and expand commercial opportunities and trade. Going beyond traffic rights, the EU-Qatar agreement will provide a single set of rules, high standards and a platform for future cooperation on a wide range of aviation issues.
Qatar is a close aviation partner for the European Union; more than 6 million passengers travelled between the EU and Qatar per year under the existing 26 bilateral air transport agreements with EU Member States prior to the pandemic. While direct flights between most EU Member States and Qatar have already been liberalised by those bilateral agreements, none of them include provisions on fair competition, or social and environmental issues, which the Commission considers essential for a modern aviation agreement.
In 2016, the European Commission obtained authorisation from the Council to negotiate an EU-level aviation agreement with Qatar, which started on 4 March 2019. While the agreement still needs to be ratified by the parties before formally entering into force, it will start being applied from today’s signature.
Similar EU comprehensive air transport agreements have been signed with other partner countries, namely the United States, Canada, the Western Balkans, Morocco, Georgia, Jordan, Moldova, Israel and Ukraine. Further air transport agreements with Armenia and Tunisia are expected to be signed in the coming weeks.
COP 26 must yield pragmatic outcomes to sustain livelihoods
Glasgow is now ready to host the United Nations Climate Change conference, popularly known as COP 26 (i.e. the 26th...
Feminism: A Critique of Realism and The Way Forward
In around eighteen countries of the world, for e.g. Bolivia, Iran, Qatar, Sudan and Syria, men can legally stop women...
Time for a Consolidated Russian-Chinese Approach to Modernize and Reform UN
When it comes to reforms of the United Nations, it is indispensable for China and Russia, as long-time UN champions...
Kavala Case as a Cause for Dıplomatıc Crısıs
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent statement about the Osman Kavala declaration of the envoys of 10 countries has been...
The pendulum gradually swings towards international engagement with the Taliban
The Taliban and Pakistan, both viewed warily by the West and others in the international community, appear to be benefitting...
Global Wealth Has Grown, But at the Expense of Future Prosperity
Global wealth has grown overall—but at the expense of future prosperity and by exacerbating inequalities, according to the World Bank’s...
Climate Change Could Further Impact Africa’s Recovery
The World Bank’s new Groundswell Africa reports, released today ahead of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties...
International Law4 days ago
Debunking the Sovereignty: From Foucault to Agamben
Intelligence3 days ago
The impact of the joint security coordination between Israel and Turkey in Afghanistan
Economy3 days ago
United World of Job Seekers and Job Creators Will Boost Recovery
Intelligence2 days ago
Israel-Bhutan peace agreement and its affect on China’s influence
South Asia4 days ago
Did India invade Kashmir?
Environment4 days ago
Plastic pollution on course to double by 2030
Middle East3 days ago
Saudi Arabia and Iran want to be friends again
South Asia3 days ago
The Khalistan nightmare