The EU’s Macro-Regional Strategy (MRS) is a policy framework that allows countries of the same region to strengthen their cooperation to use their common potential and find solutions to shared problems. In recent years, there has been increased action to amplify the voices of young people in Interreg and Macro-Regional Strategies, which is documented by the EU’s Youth Manifesto. As one of the partners involved in developing the Manifesto, YouthProAktiv will be attending the event to observe and participate in discussions on how to better involve young people in shaping the future of EU cohesion policy and interregional cooperation.
The “Manifesto for Young People by Young People to Shape the European Cooperation Policy” was published in 2020, thirty years after Interreg was first initiated. It aims to express the views of young people on how they can become better integrated in Interreg policy-making and its project-based implementation. The partners of the Manifesto have collected young people’s ideas and wishes on how to improve territorial cooperation in the future and make sure that young generations are heard and included by EU decision makers. The Manifesto documents their expectations for how this can be achieved.
When asked what priorities should be included in and what challenges addressed by EU cooperation, young people named five main areas: education and training opportunities, employment and job market, digitalisation, climate change, citizens’ engagement. On the basis of these findings, the Manifesto presents 12 recommendations from young people, centred on 3 main areas for improvement. To increase young people’s involvement and make it more in line with their needs, decision makers must:
- Boost exchange amongst EU officials and young people, creating a more regular cycle of consultation and dialogues among EU staff and young people. This may be achieved through increasing number of online events and meetings via digital platforms, planning regular thematic meetings on Interreg matters with young people and European Commission’s staff, involving young people in meetings of relevant EU-wide groups and networks, and similar actions.
- Boost communication towards young people via educational programmes, to better clarify and make visible among young people the way Interreg works and the opportunities linked to it.
- Enable young people to take action within Interreg programmes and projects, by offering ways to better involve young people.
For the dissemination and implementation of the 12 Manifesto recommendations, a communication tool kit has now been made available. The tool kit includes material, such as videos, infographics and social media visuals, which are specifically directed to young people and decision makers.
Through our participation in the Macro-Regional Strategies Week 2021, YouthProAktiv aims to encourage and monitor the development towards an inclusive implementation of MRS that represents the voices and needs of young people from the macro regions, as suggested in the Manifesto.
The motto of this year’s Macro-Regional Strategies Week is “Reconnect, Rethink, Recover”, a response to the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. Key implementers, stakeholders and representatives of EU institutions reconnect to rethink ways of prioritising MRS objectives in cooperation, in order to recover from the pandemic’s impact on society and the economy with concrete actions. As young people are among the groups most affected by the pandemic, ensuring that their voices are heard in current and future decision-making processes is crucial.
The pandemic has added significantly to the insecurities and uncertainties young people face in society and the labour market. Hence YouthProAktiv will continue to take part in initiatives such as the Manifesto for Young People to advocate for inclusive decision-making and cooperation for young people across Europe and beyond.