Young Ukrainians shape the future of Europe
This year, as part of the #ReshapeEurope campaign, FNF Ukraine and European Youth of Ukraine, a liberal youth NGO, held a series of educational interactive events for young people – “Eurotrain in Ukraine”. EuroTrain is a youth project, the name of which arose because of its format. European Youth of Ukraine representatives, trainers, travelled across Ukraine by train, talking about the work of EU institutions, the advantages of Ukraine's accession to the EU, and their own experience in European youth policy.
In this article, Feliks Shepel, Policy officer and Board member at NGO European Youth of Ukraine, tells about the initiative and about the vision of Ukrainian youth about the future of Ukraine and EU.
When our team gathered to overthink what projects were important for Ukrainian youth, we were discussing what topics were on the current political agenda. The polls show Ukrainians’ stable support for joining the European Union, but if you ask common Ukrainian to say something about it, he/she will become confused. That is why we came up with an idea to visit several Ukrainian cities by train to tell people what the EU actually is and what it is doing for our country. Nowadays, Ukrainians face extreme cruelty and aggression from Russian invaders, and, of course, it leaves a mark on our way of thinking and behavior. The war is the main thing all Ukrainians think of, but the goal of our EuroTrain was to change people's focus and explain what formation Ukraine strives to join and why. As a result of the events, participants after gaining new information will promote the idea of integration to the EU among their friends and relatives and raise their awareness of it. It will be fair to say that Ukraine is fighting for values and principles that all free Europeans share. However, we are inspired by the fact that Ukraine will be an EU member one day. Gradual approximation to the Union definitely makes the end of the war closer, because it makes us stronger in every sense and sphere.
This series of events was held under extraordinary circumstances, but it was good that there were no air raid alarms during the trainings and thus we did not need to go to shelters when the stations of our train took place. Participants were polite and open-minded, offered many valuable ideas and projects (promoting Ukrainian culture among foreigners, helping people with disabilities, fostering digital economy and so on). We are very happy to see so many motivated and smart young people, who understand what Europe is and feel that they are a part of it. According to the opinions of young Ukrainians, projects on various topics should be created and implemented to show others their view of the European future. The majority of such proposals are about engaging European youth with actual agenda and pushing needed reforms to reconsider frames and possibilities that common European home gifts. Young Ukrainians want to increase the role and impact of youth in the decision-making process and be a loud voice so that others can hear them. In this case, all possible legal mechanisms and tools (lobbying, advocating, elections) will be used to draw everyone's attention to youth's experience, requirements and interests. Its aim is to spread civic education and a call to vote among as many people as possible. It is one of the reasons why this project was established. We believe that every vote matters!
European Youth of Ukraine is sure that the best effect is achieved when we do everything together with our friends throughout Europe. Our country needs the EU and NATO to remain strong and united until this existential threat for Western countries disappears. Ukrainian youth considers Ukraine as an integral part of these organizations and a frontier of the project that we call “European family”. Space of freedom and prosperity in Europe, to participants' minds, must be expanded. Ukraine needs Europe, and Europe needs Ukraine.
The project is part of “Reshape Europe” campaign. 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!