Empowering Youth in a European Society (EYES), is a European youth network, whose goal is to connect youth across Europe and outside it to come together, reflect and act on issues concerning our future. We are part of the YPSSI platform, which is composed of over 27 organizations of UE countries, around one hundred scientists (the Group 38) and EYES. At the moment EYES has over 60 active members from all over the EU and neighboring countries such as Georgia, Armenia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. We believe that youth is probably the first resource European societies are wasting and in order to change this we, young citizens of Europe, want to take the future into our own hands, aiming at becoming actors and accomplished citizens, together with other people, organizations and networks who are aware that social and ecological issues are the keys to understanding the present and building the future.
Hence, EYES wishes to commit itself to building on the opportunities that emerge towards this end, creating, through actions, a balance-sheet that is coherent with our expectations on the role of the youth in an European society. Therefore we will participate in relevant events on that path, such as the World Water Forum in Marseille in March 2012, or the Rio+20 Summit in June of this year. Moreover, we propose a more integral campaign called “YOUth in transition”, which already exists in the European societies as the sum of alternatives that are already available, meaning local participatory citizen alternatives. However, it requires a change of scale, which will only happen through a strong involvement and participation of citizens, and particularly youth. What is at stake is no longer to imagine possible futures, but to extend and promote them, a mission that EYES is longing to undertake. Consequently, EYES will act in the coming months in cities as Bonn, Sofia, Tbilisi, Ahtens or Paris, and wherever you and your friends, as members of the civil society, wish to take the lead by committing yourselves to this transition.
The target of the YOUth in transition campaign is to draw from the local actions a conclusive document that outlines the main points of convergence on matters of social and ecological transition. We aim to present this voice of European youth to the European Commission, transmitting that it is the concept of democratic renewal upon which the sustainability and fairness of mankind’s future lies. Undoubtedly, this entails the revaluation of the role of the citizen as a political actor, irreducible to casting ballots in periodic elections. Visibly, social and citizen movements act with a perspective that reaches far beyond political mandates, as representative democracy’s capacity to realize genuine social change is limited. Moreover, in the absence of a European nation, democratic community solutions (and the links between them) offer an enormous opportunity to build European solidarity which is as necessary as never before in these times of crisis. In sum, these elements frame the local spaces of expression that EYES will set up (concretely, through sessions of information, awareness raising and collective learning – movie/documentary projections, meetings and discussions with experts, politicians, activists, or scientists), and on a further note, the collective elaboration of our vision of a fair and sustainable future.
All the above, together with upcoming events and opportunities we could take part in, constitute a roadmap towards the European Youth Forum on Alternatives (EYFA): it aims at providing a platform of discussion for young Europeans – and friends from other countries, at empowering youth and building a new Europe which addresses the multiple crises putting at risk our future. We aim to come together to find real alternative solutions in order to build a democratic Europe which is participatory, integrating and non-exclusive, also towards its neighbours. Thus, in the fall of 2013, in Toulouse, we will bring together around 5000 young people from all 27 EU states as well as other continents for an event that accepts all types of contributions to its construction, as an horizontal open process that not only hopes for, but requires the implication of the networks or organizations you belong to in order to guarantee its success and self-management. We demand sustainability and the expansion of forms of participatory democracy in Europe to be the core principles of all European actions, for which a stronger involvement of youth and civil society in decision-making processes is a fundamental prerequisite. Together we want to become aware of the challenges we, the European youth, face in different countries, discuss them and make them known to the European public through a European Youth Declaration of Alternatives.