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EU Youth Conference, Sweden, March 2023 © Josefine Stenersen/Regeringskanliset, 2023

EUYC Växjö Sweden | Where the roads meet and youth shape the path

Atnaujinta Trečiadienis, 24/05/2023

“We want youth to thrive, not just survive”. This is the phrase with which the EU Youth Conference (EUYC) kicked off in Växjö, Sweden on 20 March. This EUYC is the third and final youth conference of the Trio Presidency France-Czech Republic-Sweden and the conclusion of the 9th cycle of the EU Youth Dialogue.

“Give us the tools and we will thrive”

For youth to thrive, they need their voices to be more and more heard and recognised. Youth needs to be actively involved in the policy-making that addresses them, their daily life and future generations. The EUYC and the EU Youth Dialogue (EUYD) are all about this. They are two unique democratic tools for young people to participate actively and collectively in policy-making and shaping the future of Europe. “EU Youth Dialogue is a unique participatory experiment. The EU Youth Conference gives the opportunity to the Erasmus Generation to be heard and transforms its concerns, and problems based on our experience and participation in Erasmus+, into proposals that facilitate the life of thousands of international students and youth”. - Giorgos Papaioannou, ESN Liaison Office.

The European Youth Goals are clear proof of the impact of the EUYC and the EUYD. Back in 2017 during the 6th EU Youth Dialogue, the European Youth Goals were developed and since then the EU Youth Dialogue and the EU Youth Conferences have never been the same. The Youth Goals provide some fundamental pillars in what should be discussed and suggested in each EU Youth Dialogue cycle according to the current and future needs in the youth field. The latest Youth Conference in Sweden focused on young people’s living conditions, specifically European Youth Goals #3 Inclusive Societies and #10 Sustainable Green Europe. 

Where the roads meet

Växjö is the city where the roads meet. 250 delegates from all 27 EU Member States, Iceland and Ukraine, representatives of the European Commission, the Council Secretariat, the Council of Europe, and 20 international non-governmental youth organisations found their way to Växjö. But what were they doing there?

EU Youth Conference, Sweden, March 2023

A sneak peek from the Governance Working Group ©Josefine Stenersen, 2023

During two intensive days, all attendees worked together on a common goal to contribute to shaping five policy recommendations that will be incorporated into the Council document of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU. Youth delegates, ministry and organisation representatives shook hands and after some ice-breaker dived into the process. The next step will be to get the recommendations adopted by the Council of the European Union in May. 

The participants were divided into five working groups: Action and Empowerment, Governance, Information and Education, Infrastructure, Mobility and Solidarity. All of them were addressed through the social and environmental angle of a sustainable Europe for young people. The magic lies in the diversity each group is bringing to the creation of inclusive and representative recommendations. Jacky Casserly, Youth Delegate from Ireland in EUYC Sweden shares her experience: ''The European Youth Conference (EUYC) is the most impactful Conference that I have ever been to. The one thing that made this Conference unique is that it brought young people and decision-makers (politicians and government department workers) across Europe together to focus on European Youth issues. The group that I was in during the EUYC had amazing facilitators that held a space that was Youth-led and supported by decision-makers. This balance made sure that young people were at the core of policymaking and that the decision-makers were there to support the structure of the policymaking. This led our work to be youth-centric, realistic, and impactful”.

However, the process was intense, and time was short but still, the passionate young people, their different perspectives on common problems, and the contributions of the stakeholders all brought five concrete recommendations to life. On the second day, young people had the chance to present their results to all the conference attendees. What was impressive is that right up to the last moment of the process, the Conference actually created a safe space and everyone cared actively about its sustainability and improvement. An open space was created for all attendees to give their feedback and new ideas for the Conferences to come. Illés Katona, a Youth Delegate from Hungary comments on his experience of the policy recommendation process: “I really enjoyed it, but I certainly feel that we needed more time and opportunities to prepare for the work in advance. This would influence professional quality in a positive manner”.

EU Youth Conference, Sweden, March 2022

Youth Delegates are writing their feedback and ideas for the Conference. ©Josefine Stenersen/Regeringskanliset, 2023

From youth to youth with love

The whole conference was teamwork at its best. Young people were an essential part of the front scene but also behind it. Emma Wedner, a Youth delegate from Sweden and member of the planning team of the conference shares her experience: “I  really enjoyed being part of the planning team for the European Youth Conference in Växjö. It has given me lots of insight in terms of cooperation between the Presidency team, National Agencies, ministries and the National Youth Council. I believe that we had a good partnership between the different organisations of the planning team. My colleagues and I had the same possibilities to influence the content and practicalities as the other members of the planning team, which goes to show that youth participation was a clear priority for the Swedish presidency…We wanted a clear overview of which practices we wanted to integrate from the previous Presidencies and what we wanted to change. In terms of sustainability, early on, it was clear that we wanted to spend lots of time on feedback through the open space format and being able to practice meaningful participation and ownership with a long-term perspective of the EU Youth Dialogue. I hope that these outcomes will provide a good basis for the Council of Ministers reports but also for the upcoming 10th cycle”.

In between the policy recommendation sessions, the attendees had also the chance to cherish other activities. A remarkable one was an amazing dinner at Kungsmadskolan Vocational School. The night was organised and delivered by the students and supported by the municipality of Växjö. The surprises did not stop there. On the second day, the attendees watched the youth-led theatre performance: LÄNK – “Is my microphone on?”. A play that consisted in a confrontation, a declaration of war but also a declaration of love among generations. Both gestures were a resounding reminder that the EUYC and the EUYD themselves are at their core a love letter from youth to the youth of the past, the present, and the future. Ema Wender also adds: “I am proud that we, in my opinion, were able to highlight youth ownership over the conference. I am for example proud of the active involvement of local youth in hosting many of the social events. On-site, it was great being able to see the planning come to life and hosting all the delegates in Sweden" .

The Handover

EU Youth Conference, Sweden, March 2023

Youth delegates of the Trio Presidency France-Czech Republic-Sweden handover symbolically the baton to the next Trio Presidency Spain-Belgium-Hungary. ©Josefine Stenersen/Regeringskanliset, 2023

The end of the conference also marked the end of the Trio Presidency France-Czech Republic-Sweden and the conclusion of the 9th cycle of the EU Youth Dialogue. The youth representatives from the Youth Councils of the current Trio handed over the baton to the next Trio of youth representatives from Spain, Belgium and Hungary. The baton happened to be an actual sunscreen as the next EUYC will be hosted in sunny Alicante. Until then, all the stakeholders and attendees of the conference agreed that they hope and try for more young people to be part of the dialogue.


Meet the author Maro Samara

"I am Maro from Greece. I am an incubating physicist and parallelly work in the digital education domain for vulnerable groups and migration. I gained journalistic experience from writing in online student newspapers and pop-culture magazines. I love channelling ideas in several ways and cooperating in multicultural environments to make a sustainable global impact. Reading, debating, arts, languages, volunteering, and sports are places I find comfort and growth at the same time."


This article reflects the views of the authors only. The European Commission cannot be held responsible for it.



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