Ukrainian Youth's Vision for EU-Ukraine Relations
From August 23rd to 26th, FNF Ukraine held the Ideation Workshop "Reshape Europe: You(th) Vision of the EU-Ukraine Relations". For four days, 17 young Ukrainians from diverse backgrounds came together in a scenic location of Zakarpattia Oblast to discuss Ukraine's journey towards the European Union. They explored topics like EU integration, political reforms and economic changes, all while building their skills and having fun.
The vital role of youth
In the context of our country’s resilience against Russian aggression, Ukraine’s aspiration to join the European Union plays a key role. As the EU is a key contributor to Ukraine’s reconstruction, prompting Ukraine to conduct the necessary reforms, the European integration is the backbone of post-war recovery of Ukraine. Considering numerous contemporary challenges we are faced with, the involvement of youth in shaping the future of Ukraine and the EU becomes increasingly crucial.
Following the slogan #ReshapeEurope, we invited young people from all over Ukraine interested in European integration and reform. The main idea was to emphasize that closer ties between Ukraine and the EU benefit both, and they both need to adapt to address today's challenges.
The Ideation Workshop served as a platform for the young participants to share their thoughts, exchange experiences, and engage in creative learning. Beyond discussions, it also featured networking opportunities, skills training (including public speaking and group work), and, of course, fun activities.
Diverse program of the workshop
The workshop offered an engaging and multifaceted program. Participants had the opportunity to delve into case studies concerning EU integration processes in Western Balkans, Baltic States, and Cyprus. Moreover, they deepened their understanding of the EU's legal framework, accession criteria, and the essential steps for European integration. Importantly, the learning process incorporated fun activities and informal education methods, such as Goosechase, youth talks in the style of TED talks, and fishbowl discussions.
An essential component of the workshop was the Visual Storytelling Session, where participants learned to use visual metaphors to express their thoughts, feelings, and visions related to the youth movement and EU-Ukraine relations.
The Ideation Workshop coincided with Ukraine's Independence Day on August 24th, creating the perfect backdrop to discuss the country’s future with optimism and resilience. During the cultural evening on August 24th, participants shared intriguing and non-stereotypical facts about their respective regions, highlighting Ukraine's rich cultural diversity.
Highlight: Building a Vision
The most significant moment of the workshop was when participants divided into three groups to develop proposals on specific topics:
1. Social and cultural shifts that Ukraine should undergo as it integrates with the EU;
2. Transformations within Ukrainian political and economic spheres;
3. How might the EU reshape its system for Ukraine’s accession.
The group work discussions were lively and generated practical ideas. One of the primary concerns revolved around the question of how to encourage Ukrainians to return home despite the instability, war and related risks. Participants emphasized the need for transformative changes, with education emerging as a central theme. Proposals focused on improving the education system to equip young people with better knowledge of political participation, the EU, and market economy, among other topics. During the group work, participants elaborated ideas on the other important topics, such as representing minorities in the media and protecting their rights; strategies for attracting investment, protecting intellectual property rights, and helping small businesses grow; promoting political and media pluralism, and combating false information and Russian propaganda while elevating Ukraine's global image.
Participants' ideas were turned into visuals by a professional illustrator, giving a clear representation of their shared vision. The visual summary (cover image) can be viewed here.
The #ReshapeEurope Ideation Workshop highlights the importance of involving young people in shaping Ukraine's future with the EU. With determination and creativity, Ukraine's youth aims to overcome challenges and build a prosperous future of Ukraine within the EU.
Under the slogan #ReshapeEurope, FNF has launched a global dialogue on how the EU can become more resilient and assertive in order to stand up to the enemies of freedom worldwide. In order to strengthen and defend the European model of free and democratic societies against authoritarian regimes, the EU must regain its radiance and creative power – both within its borders as well as with a view to its relations with other world regions. Make your voice heard and share with us your ideas on how to #ReshapeEurope !
Young Ukrainians shape the future of Europe
FNF Ukraine and NGO European Youth of Ukraine organised interactive events for youth as part of the #ReshapeEurope campaign. The "Eurotrain in Ukraine" project involved train travel across Ukraine, discussing Ukraine's EU membership benefits and European youth policy experiences. Felix Shepel, Policy officer and Board member at NGO European Youth of Ukraine, shares insights on the initiative and Ukrainian youth's vision for Ukraine-EU future.