Wednesday, 5th of June is the starting day for this year’s season of international youth encounters as part of Generation Europe in the northern Finnish city of Oulu. Until the end of August, nine further European meetings in Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Lithuania will follow. Young people are committed to greater social participation, local improvements and a Europe based on solidarity.
“When it comes to youth engagement, there is still room for improvement in Oulu,” says Jaakko Huuki from the Finnish youth organisation Nuoret Kotkat. “Many people here have the impression of living in the periphery – Europe feels far away. With Generation Europe we become involved in our city, and together with our partners from Germany and the Czech Republic we make plans how we can make a difference in Europe”.
The topics dealt with by the young people from Dusseldorf (Germany), Brno (Czech Republic) and Oulu (Finland) during the two-week youth encounter are substantial: Exclusion of population groups, the consequences of urban renewal and gentrification, as well as accessibility. At the location, they meet local activists, but also politicians and municipal representatives. The host group created a local action plan for Oulu. They are supported by their fellow youths from Germany and the Czech Republic. Here, the activists from the other two countries gain valuable experience for the implementation of their similar plans in their respective cities.
“I am particularly happy for Generation Europe to also address young people who previously had nothing to do with politics,” says Elke Wegener, General Manager of the International Association for Education and Exchange (IBB e.V.). The Dortmund-based association developed the concept for this major European project. “Together, we can prove this: Many young people are ready to be part of an active European citizenship – if we remove entry barriers and create the necessary basic conditions”.
Generation Europe involves 30 youth organisations from 15 European countries. Three organisations each continuously work together over a period of three years. The young people deal with local problems, organise joint youth encounters and bring their activism to the European level. Only a few days following the kick-off in Oulu, the second international meeting commences in Herslev (Denmark). The last meeting for this summer will take place during the end of August in Sovata (Romania).