On June 21st and 22nd 2022, EU40 – the Network of Young MEPs &, MEPs Kympouropoulos (EL-EPP), Peter-Hansen (DK-G/EFA), Vedrenne (FR-RE), and Moretti (IT-S&D), hosted a two-day in-person conference of young elected politicians from right across the European Union. The initiative, which fell under the high patronage of the European Parliament and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), was also actively supported by the CoR Young Elected Politicians Programme (YEPs) and the European Local Leaders Group (ELL). European Commission Vice-President, Mr. Margaritis Schinas, and President of the CoR, Mr. Apostolos Tzitzikostas, opened the conference.
Taking place in Brussels, the conference sought to give young elected officials a platform to share their ideas and experiences of the local, national, and EU dimensions, including offering them an opportunity to meet their respective European counterparts. More than 80 young elected officials from across the EU gathered for the two-day event, which included discussions, debates, educational tours, and networking, within the most important democratic institutions of Europe. The gathering gave the floor to the young elected leaders themselves, facilitating them to have their voices heard while also allowing two levels of politics to meet and discuss the pressing issues of the day. The initiative, which was largely inspired by the Conference on the Future of Europe, and the European Commission instigated ‘European Year of Youth 2022,’ adopted the theme ‘citizen participation,’ especially as it relates to ‘youth engagement,’ and how this can foster a sense of democratisation, inspiration, and hope for our future.
Commenting on the initiative, Greek MEP Stelios Kympouropoulos (EPP), who is also one of the co-hosts of the conference, described how it was now “time to enhance our common European identity by inviting young politicians to exchange not only views but also best practices and concerns about future challenges. Young politicians should take the floor and contribute to the future of the European Union. I am therefore delighted to be part of this effort to bring together young elected politicians in Brussels.” Italian MEP Alessandra Moretti (S&D), and co-host of the event, noted how “young politicians represent the fabric of our societies and the future of Europe. However, too often their voices have been neglected, and still are.” Echoing her colleagues’ sentiments, French MEP and event co-host Marie-Pierre Vedrenne stated, “as a young elected MEP who is new in politics, I know how important it is to build personal relationships with other young elected leaders. It is crucial for us to better understand our different political cultures, to overcome our differences, and finally, to take the best decisions together for our common future.”