Bringing Europe Closer to Citizens via EU Institutions
The third edition of the Future of Europe Youth Summit (FEYS 3.0) took place this year in mid-May in Iași, in northern Romania. It is the largest youth event in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, organized this year by the regional office FNF ESEE in cooperation with the youth organization of the liberal party Union Save Romania (USR Tineret).
The Summit brought 35 representatives of youth organizations from Renew Europe and ALDE member parties from 17 European countries to Romania. They were joined by 45 Romanian members of USR Tineret to discuss the future of Europe in the context of the war in neighboring Ukraine, as well as the increasing impact of phenomena such as fake news and disinformation on young people. The event offered the young liberals the chance to rediscover Europe through a lively exchange of ideas, said Regional Director for East and Southeast Europe Martin Kothee in his welcoming speech.
A special feature of this year's meeting was the debates held in a hackathon format on the topics selected by the participants. The aim was to develop ideas that could make the change happen. Eight teams came up then with specific solutions on topics such as: frozen conflicts in Eastern and Southeastern Europe; EU enlargement policy and the accession process of the Eastern Partnership Countries; foreign policy orientation of the EU in terms of strengthening partnerships with third countries in the Eastern Neighborhood; or disinformation phenomenon in the context of wars and tensions in 21st Century Europe. After being refined in the hackathon process, the ideas for reshaping Europe were incorporated into concrete action plans.
Team "OnlyPoliticians" wins competition
The one-day hackathon was led and moderated by experienced citizen activist Ciprian Ciocan, former director of the Community Foundation Sibiu. Already during the group formation, the participants went for funny names like Fuck Fake News, Stop Shit Spreading, Cha Cha and Politics, Kids Next Door, OnlyPoliticians or The Brazilians.
After the presentation of the three-minute pitches at the end of the day, the jury chose Team OnlyPoliticians. The team convinced with a proposal on the topic of EU enlargement and with their action plan to relocate EU institutions responsible for enlargement to Romania or to Bulgaria. The reason given is to bring the EU enlargement institutions "closer to the candidate countries in order to dispel the doubts of the citizens of these countries about EU accession and to create proximity to the EU." This would not only be a sign of solidarity with these countries, but would also be cheaper in terms of costs compared to Belgium, it was said as an additional argument. It would also counter the feeling that the EU is far away and not focused on the Eastern Neighborhood.
Runner-up Cha-Cha and Politics convinced with the idea of a digital platform to be used for monitoring the individual steps for EU integration to inform citizens.
Trust Builders also proposed a project on the topic of disinformation, through which news agencies would be given a score and a ranking: Gold, Silver, Bronze - like movie ratings. The transparency of the evaluation process, the accessibility for users and the deployability of staff with different language skills would establish the platform as a real credibility checker.
On the topic of Eastern Partnership, the Escape the Matrix team proposed a professional exchange program that would focus on six post-Soviet countries (Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan). This exchange program should promote professional exchanges in fields such as medicine, education, energy, and architecture as a two-way learning experience: the host learns professional skills, and the guest learns about a new culture.
The next day, participants intensively explored the selected topics in discussion panels under the guidance of the moderators, with the main panel dedicated to the topic of disinformation. Exciting questions ensured active exchanges with philosophical-political accents on topics such as: Would the European Union look like an empire if it expanded eastward? What do all regions with frozen conflicts have in common? Is the eastern neighborhood a weakness or rather a strength of the EU?
The event took place under the slogan #ReshapeEurope against the backdrop of the war of aggression against Ukraine launched by Russia and the increasing presence of fake news and disinformation in the news channels of European countries.