Parliament for the Future of Europe
Zagreb, Croatia – 22 September 2023
The Parliament for the Future of Europe is our take on the Conference for the Future of Europe. Our aim is to bring together a diverse group of people from marginalized and underrepresented groups to the center of the debate. With our six partners we bring together participants from across Europe to discuss and scrutinize the proposals of the historic Conference on the Future of Europe and reshape them to be more inclusive and meet the needs of vulnerable communities. Our 4th Citizen Panel took us to Zagreb, Croatia, on Friday, 22 September 2023. We were hosted by our local partner Lota's Box and discussed Youth, Culture, and Education.
The Conference for the Future of Europe's proposals on Youth, Culture and Education starting on page 88 served as the basis of the discussion.
The newly drafted proposals are as follows:
Objective: The EU and its Member states should seek to establish by 2025 an inclusive European Education Area within which all citizens and residents have equal and affordable access to quality education, especially higher-level education, and life-long learning, including those in rural and remote areas. To this aim, the European Union and its Member states should in particular:
- Coordinate the level of all different education programmes in the European Union with acceptance of the national, regional and local contents, and create closer links between the education systems, including via organising equivalence of diplomas. A certified minimum standard of education in core subjects should be adopted commencing in primary school. Shared competences in the field of education should be introduced, at a minimum in the field of citizenship education and the exercise of that competence by the EU shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs. Professional degrees and training should be validated and mutually recognised in all EU Member States, with regulated common standards. The European Union should also champion the recognition of non-formal and informal learning and the youth organisations that provide it, as well as learning periods abroad.
- Develop future-proof education and life-long learning in Europe -in accordance with the right to free training in the workplace, as well as institutionalized education, focusing on the following subjects:
- Civic education about democratic processes, as well as EU values and history of Europe. This ought to be mandatory as a common module to be taught in all Member States. Economic literacy and all forms of tolerance and beliefs, as part of a civics curriculum, should also be improved as an aspect of better understanding the European integration process.
- Digital skills, to be progressively taught starting from a young age. More EU funded programs for digital skills training including the elderly and people from marginalized groups.
- STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics)
- Entrepreneurship and research
- Improving critical thinking. When religious studies are taught, they should be from an objective approach. Starting from basic education and in relevant workplace training, media literacy and data protection should be enhanced in order to ensure online safety and empower citizens in every Member State to independently evaluate whether a piece of information is trustworthy or not, and identify fake news, but at the same time to benefit from the opportunities that the Internet offers. This should be implemented in basic education as a specific class and be offered in other public spaces for citizens of all ages under the guidance of an EU-established dedicated organisation, drawing on best practices across the Member States. The EU should ensure that the dedicated funding is used by the Member States for the intended purposes.
- Integrating soft skills in all the courses in the curricula in schools. This relates to: public speaking, listening to each other, encouraging dialogue, resilience, understanding, respect and appreciation for others, critical thinking, self-study, remaining curious, and result-oriented.
- Enabling everyone to learn about environmental sustainability and raising awareness for responsible consumer practices and initiatives and its connection to health. Biodiversity should be made as a mandatory subject at school. This education should start at school with specific subjects addressing all ecological issues, and include field trips to show relevant real life examples, that should be supported by a funding programme.
- Combating bullying and cyber bullying, racism, sexism, and all forms of discrimination, in accordance with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and European Convention of Human Rights via regular training for students and educators. Trainings should include topics of tolerance and integration. Victim support systems should include oversight mechanisms including with school-appointed psychologists who receive regular training, and law enforcement, where necessary.
- Support the training of teachers, to learn from best practices and use up to date innovative and creative teaching techniques that reflects the evaluation of teaching methods, including practical activities, building also the lessons to be drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic and other kinds of crisis, as well as promote opportunities for mobility Introducing different ways of help, through additional staff, spaces, and secure of teachers' employment.
- In order to meet the educational needs of all children and families, prioritise access to hardware, software and efficient broadband connectivity should be introduced. Also, fulfil the needs for space and sustainable financing of all activities.
- Fulfil the needs to set up an information platform for an EU- wide exchange of knowledge and experience, pooling information on transnational education and training courses in the EU, showcasing best practice examples and offering citizen the opportunity to present new ideas for cross-border exchange. It should offer teaching material about climate change, sustainability, environmental issues and digitisation, soft skills and provide information on existing specialized forums on key topics.
- All materials should be in all EU languages and opportunities to learn foreign EU language must be introduced. It should be made available together with a funding program to support the usage and implementation, of the information on the platform. Take into account the information in existing platform on similar topics, introduce the topics and opportunities for mobility. Add links and resources to specialized forums and consider adding a funding program for support.
- The EU should move towards tuition and cost-free higher education for all EU residents. Establish fixed, affordable fees for non-EU residents, with greater EU-funded programs for stipends and scholarships, based on needs and/or performance - set by clear, transparent rules. The EU should also introduce EU-funded stipends for sectors in need workers, e.g. educators, healthcare, trade workers.
- People from rural and remote areas should have equal access to quality and affordable education and life-long training via, e.g. transportation where necessary, via digital means and materials, and mobile trainings that takes place in rural areas.
- Sexual education should be mandatory in schools and approached in an objective way from professionals in the health sector.
- Introduce EU level union for educators to ensure protection of their labour rights.
Objectives: The EU and its Member States have to focus on the specific needs of young people across all relevant policies, including the European Union’s regional policy in order to offer them the best possible conditions for study and work and starting an independent life, while engaging them in the democratic life and decision making processes, including at European level. Youth organisations have a crucial role to play. To achieve this objective, we propose to:
- Offer young people more possibilities and champion existing programs for participation and representation in the democratic and decision-making processes at all levels, including by organising (peer/proposal/discussion panels) with children of all ages, regarding decisions that concern their lives and their communities. European representatives could meet schoolchildren in their schools to strengthen citizens’ closeness to and understanding of Europe and the European political processes from an early age. To ensure that all policy making at EU level is seen through a youth lens, an EU "Youth Test" should be developed so that all new legislation and policy is subject to an obligatory youth focused impact assessment, including a consultation with young people.
- Ensure an enhancement of citizenship education and education about the EU targeting young people. National political parties should ensure that younger candidates, in particular young women, are also put on their lists for the elections to the European Parliament, either through quotas or incentives, working towards parity democracy. The minimum age for voting and to stand for election to the European Parliament should be standardized across Member States with a view of lowering the age at 16y/o gradually
- To better prepare young people for entering working life, give high school students (from 12 years old on) the opportunity to have high quality observatory visits in profit and non- profit organisations, in close cooperation between schools, local governments and the organisations and companies concerned. These visits should be seen as part of a broader career guidance process in formal education to allow young people to have a first contact with a professional work environment so they can obtain a professional orientation and or consider becoming an entrepreneur. Government should provide incentives to promote this initiative
- More significant EU financing under NextGenerationEU should also be devoted to the implementation of the reinforced European Youth Guarantee, including more commitment, better outreach, improvements in the quality of the offer, funding and action by all Member States, and the relevant levels of authorities involved. Given youth organisations expertise in the needs of young people, national governments should collaborate in close dialogue with these organisations to ensure the most effective delivery of the Guarantee. Greater and coordinated communication strategy by the commission to popularise the EU offer to European Youth.
- Ensure that young people’s internships and jobs adhere to quality standards, including on remuneration, putting an end to youth minimum wages and any other discriminatory labour law provisions specific to young people, as well as banning through a legal instrument unpaid internships on the labour market and outside formal education. Allow for short term unpaid internships (well-regulated and under two weeks). Provide internship stipends for interns working in NGO focused on EU priorities.
- Ensure reasonable living standards for young people including access to social protection and housing. Young people should have access to social protection, equal to other age groups. Access to affordable housing for young people, including through EU funding, should also be facilitated. introduce tax incentives at national level to incentivise growth and retainment of Student and youth housing stock.
- Specific policies are needed to avoid a brain drain from some regions and countries within the EU due to insufficient opportunities being available for young people, while making Europe more attractive to prevent the drain of European talents and workforce to third countries to prevent the hampering of territorial cohesion particularly as regards those areas which have an acute loss of young talent including through EU funding. the EU should embark on an aggressive de-centralisation program to make all regions attractive and retain talent.
- In case of a serious crisis (e.g. health crisis, war) well prepared plans with detailed scenarios should be ready to deploy in a flexible way to minimise the impact on young people in their studies, vocational training, transition to the labour market and mental wellbeing. Prepare online study and virtual school to be more regular so students can be prepared for emergencies.
Objectives: In order to promote a culture of exchange and foster European identity and European diversity across different areas, the Member States, with the support of the European Union, should:
- Promote European exchanges in different fields, both physically and digitally, including educational exchanges, twinning, travel and professional mobility (including for
teachers and local elected politicians). Such exchanges should be made accessible across Member States for all, regardless of their age, level of education, background and financial means. With this overall aim, the EU should inter alia strengthen existing EU level exchange and mobility programmes, such as the European Solidarity Corps, Erasmus+ and DiscoverEU. European institutions are obliged to increase the amount of funds for these programmes every year. Ensuring more widespread and diverse participation in these programmes will be done by more promotional campaigns in Universities and schools. In two years time new elements should be added, such as an additional objective of civic service fostered through volunteering (for the European Solidarity Corps) and ‘cultural passes’ (for DiscoverEU). The local and regional authorities, under the auspices of the Committee of the Regions are responsible for implementation and reporting in this matter.
- Promote multilingualism as a bridge to other cultures from an early age. Minority and regional languages require additional protection, taking note of the Council of Europe Convention on Minority Languages and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. From elementary school onwards, it should be made available to children to reach competence in an EU language other than their own to the highest possible level. In order to facilitate the ability of European citizens to communicate reaching a certifiable standard in English should be encouraged by Member States.
- Create opportunities to share European cultures, bring people together and move them towards a common European identity, for instance through events and gatherings involving all target groups and taking place in various locations of EU member countires. Also always keep in mind in incorporating culture identities of candidate countries and neighbouring non EU countries. Some specific examples include holding World Art days, a European Expo including educational events, or making Europe Day (9 May) a European public holiday for all EU citizens and non working day.
- Protect European cultural heritages and cultures. Member states have an obligation to define Action plan on how to protect cultural heritage and culture taking into consideration many voices within the country. They also need to cooperate with other member states in "know how" in protecting. Recognising local and regional cultural and production peculiarities, new initiatives to safeguard and celebrate it, mobility to promote cultural heritage exchange, and the promotion of existing measures such as Creative Europe, the New European Bauhaus, Sister City Programmes and European Capitals of Culture in line with the Sustainable Development Goals should be done.
- Take steps to ensure that cultural professionals (defining who are cultural professionals) are sufficiently protected at EU level, particularly in any future crises, by adopting a legal statute at European level. Legal statue should include protection of their workers rights, freedom of expression and all other rights declared in the Treaty of the EU.