Illustration by Daniela Nunes


Young people's voice

 by Lorena Baric, with contributions from Marietta Balázs and Lana Cop 

Listening and engaging with the young people of Europe has been crucial for the success of the European Year of Youth (EYY) and the future European project. We have collected the most inspiring initiatives where young people could voice their vision. Concretely, the European Commission launched a call on the European Youth Portal to collect ideas from young people for the European Year of Youth in October and November 2021. Almost 5000 young people responded, and the majority expressed their interest in actively contribute to the European Year of Youth. On 6 May 2022 a Flash Eurobarometer on Youth and Democracy in the Year of Youth was published and confirmed the very high interest to take part in activities under the year (86%). Young people's most common expectation was that "society and decision makers listen more to youth's opinions and needs, as well as more efforts to better integrate young people in the job market - 33% and 30% expect this, respectively" (Flash Eurobarometer 502). 

To give a direct way to all young Europeans to raise their ideas, in April 2022 the European Commission launched the Youth Voice Platform: an innovative digital space to empower young people from all backgrounds to shape the future of Europe by voicing their own vision of this future loud and clear. It is the first-ever voice recording platform of the European Commission. Almost 1800 voices were recorded during the EYY, in 29 languages, expressing oppinions on the policy areas under the European Year of Youth. The platform stayed open after the EYY, and currently young people can voice their vision about the European elections. The nine EYY themes were also the front and centre of the discussions on Discord platform, which became the hub for European youth to connect with others and exchange ideas.

9 EYY themes

9 themes of the European Year of Youth, EYY Infographic Booklet.

Other initiatives promoted in the framework of the EYY are the Policy Dialogues and the Youth Talks. The Policy Dialogues allowed young people to have meaningful discussions and to directly engage with high-level decision-makers, notably with members of the College of Commissioners, to express views, raise questions, share ideas and suggestions.These dialogues took place in Brussels, but were live streamed and the recordings are available online. The first policy dialogue took place with Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager on 3 February 2022 on the topic of competition policy, and until February 2023, over 300 young people participated on the Policy Dialogues with Commissioners, discussing key issues such as climate change, innovation, media freedom, etc. The Youth Talks were 20-minute TED Talk-style inspiring talks, young people to young people, to influence actions and behaviours, to spread ideas, to activate logics of engagement, and to empower and inspire a call for action to be actors of change. The first round of Youth Talks was hosted in the European Commission's Berlaymont building on 7 May 2022 during the Open Doors Day and it focused on the following topics: democracy, solidarity and interculturality.

Young people had easy access to all information about the EYY via the European Youth Portal. To date, information is available over the 13 000 activities organised in 67 countries together with stories of the Pool of European Young Journalists, which was created to elevate young voices. 

This year, more than ever, youth is at the centre of our decisions and policy making. Promoting youth participation in democratic life is important when we address some of the most crucial problems of our times - raising awareness around civic education, media literacy, disinformation and the role of youth work in the promotion of active participation and engagement. These are key to equip young people with the necessary skills to fight disinformation, fake news, populism, extreme ideologies, racism, xenophobia, gender stereotypes and other social issues. This is, more than ever, relevant in the current political context.

LevelUp! was one of the highlights of the EYY, organised by the European Youth Forum, the European Commission and the EU Parliament. The event took place on 28-29 October 2022, and it brought together more than 1200 young people from across wider Europe. The European Parliament transformed into a space for young people to learn practical skills to have impact in their communities and connect with changemakers from more than 40 countries. A dynamic programme included 24 workshops and was divided into three sections: communication skills, advocacy skills and organisational skills.

Participants were welcomed by President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola and the former European Youth Forum's President Silja Markkula. Katy and Dominic of the Europeans podcast hosted the event and created a special episode dedicated to the LevelUp!

Participants of the LevelUp! returned home with new knowledge and skills, enlarged international network and inspiration to accelerate change in their communities. The European Youth Forum launched a follow-up campaign called LevelUp! - activism training programmes. In the framework of the activist network young changemakers organised local training programmes in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, and an online training programme in English. LevelUp! returns in 2024.

The closing event of the EYY, the Claim the future conference gathered more than 700 participants, including young people, stakeholders and participants in Brussels in December 2022.

All the above show clearly that youth participation is a central theme in current politics. Young people must be able to shape Europe's future, as they are Europe’s future. This is why young Europeans had a central role in the Conference on the Future of Europe, an unprecedented pan-European exercise in deliberative democracy - the largest and broadest of its kind. The four European Citizens’ Panels, a key feature of the Conference, were composed of 200 European citizens each, a third of which were young people aged 16-25.

While the European Year of Youth is over, there are more and more opportunities for young Europeans. The EU youth programmes, like DiscoverEU, the European Solidarity Corps and Erasmus+ programmes provide different ways for young people to engage, connect and empower


Flash Eurobarometer 502: Youth and Democracy in the European Year of Youth.

Communication on the European Year of Youth 2022.

EYY Infographic Booklet.








 Issue 34

 Young people in the spotlight



Lorena is an editor of Coyote magazine, a writer, and a youth information worker.