For months, 30 European youth institutions have been preparing for it, and now it’s getting practical: this weekend, the first international youth encounter within the framework of Generation Europe will begin in Valencia. Nine more encounters will follow this autumn: In Brno (Czech Republic), Minsk (Belarus), Florence (Italy), Sofiko (Greece) as well as in Munich, Groß Thurow, Oberhausen and Bochum (Germany).
Until October 16th, young people from the Steinfurt district (Germany), Telsiai (Lithuania), and the Valencia region (Spain) will meet in Valencia. The ambitious plan: they want to work together over a period of three years, identify local problems and draw up action plans which they implement with the support of their European partners. The purpose of the international meetings is to prepare themselves for this task, to learn from each other and to collectively find a European perspective on local challenges.
Motivating young people to get involved at the location and on the European level: To reach this goal, 30 youth work institutions from 15 European countries united to become the “Generation Europe” network. From the 20th to the 26th of September, the participating youth centres, associations, unions, and institutions will transform Europäische Jugendbegegnungsstätte Weimar (EJBW) into a laboratory for new approaches of European democracy education.
“Active European Citizenship” – utilising this perhaps somewhat unwieldy concept, the participating organisations describe their shared commitment. This means participation instead of resignation, hands-on-democracy instead of frustration about “the powers that be”. In all 30 participating cities, youths are to identify problems at the location and develop local action plans. These plans are then discussed at European youth encounters and realised by the youths with the help of their European partners.
Even a network can network – this is why Generation Europe – Young Democracy in Action presents itself at the NECE conference in Marseille. From the 6th to the 9th of September actors of civil society from more than 40 countries will meet in the French city in order to deliberate on the challenges for European Democracy Education in a rapidly changing world.
„Networking European Citizenship Education“, this is what the abbreviation NECE means. Together with international partners, the Federal Agency for Civic Education initiated the platform. The goal of the conference: Developing shared strategies on how to defend and support human rights, democracy and the rule of law through civic education.
Democracy in Europe has already been in better shape: in many countries, undemocratic and right-wing populist movements are gaining approval. Values such as freedom, democracy and respect for human rights are repeatedly called into question. But young people across the continent will not allow that to go unchallenged. From July 3rd to 8th, representatives of 30 youth organizations and facilities from 15 European countries meet in Bielefeld/Germany to launch a new international network: under the name of “Generation Europe”, they want to motivate young people to engage in political action, in order to strengthen civil society in Europe.
Generation Europe is an international network of youth work institutions for furthering an active European civil society. It motivates participants towards common political action and creates the necessary foundations. This collaboration is made possible, by a funding programme by the International Association for Education and Exchange e.V. of the same name.
30 youth work institutions from 15 European countries are taking part. The concept: In each case, youths from three countries continually collaborate over a duration of three years in order to get politically involved. We identify problems at the locations, meet in international encounters, and support one another in local projects in order to then take on these problems. We network on a digital liquid-democracy platform and discuss which problematics appear not just on the national level, but can be considered on the European level as well. For this, we are also seeking dialogue with representatives of political institutions on all levels.
By combining our actions at the location with activities on the European level, we develop and test new approaches of a shared European democracy education. In our network, young people are active together, irrespective of origin, parental income, and previous success in formal educational systems.