A record 1039 applications were received for this 10th YEYS - 972 from the EU countries and 67 from the five candidate countries - with the highest number coming from Romania (221) and the lowest from Malta and Montenegro (4 each).
33 secondary schools were selected to participate - one from each of the 28 EU Member States and five candidate countries (Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey) - using an electronic name picker. For the first time in YEYS' history one of Brussels' European schools, which educate the children of EU officials mainly in the language of the parents' countries of origin and as such have a multilingual and multicultural population studying side by side and sharing some common classes joined the debate.
On 20 and 21 March 2019, 102 students - three from each of the participating schools - came to Brussels to take part in the big debate. The youngest were 15 years old and the oldest 20, with the majority between 16 and 18. Unlike in older assemblies, women outnumbered men (60 to 42).
Ahead of the event, the participants prepared for the debate under the guidance of an accompanying teacher. They were also visited by an EESC member who helped stir the debate focusing around a set of key questions:
- How can we strengthen representative democracy in the future?
- What kind of political engagement exists beyond the European elections, and how would you take part in it?
- What in your view should be done to increase voter participation in the EP elections?
During the event, the students worked under the guidance of expert moderators in order to prepare 10 recommendations to present to EU policymakers. Then the three most appealing proposals were selected by vote.
Your Europe, Your Say! (YEYS) is organised by the EESC, the voice of civil society at European level, and is the Committee's flagship event for youth. Through this initiative, the EESC aims to ensure that the views, experiences and ideas of the younger generation are taken on board in EU policy-making.
Further details about YEYS2019 are available on the event's official page. (dm & ks)