On Friday 22nd October, the World Youth Alliance Europe interns attended a workshop in the European Parliament entitled ‘Europe in Search for Identity and Values’. The workshop was led by Magda Bien, former Director of Operations for WYA Europe who now works in the European Parliament. In addition to our WYAE interns, additional interns from other like-minded organisations were in attendance.
The workshop consisted of three parts. Firstly there was a talk about values and identity in Europe, which considered both the foundations of the European Union, the place of value in the EU and the way in which those values are interpreted today. During this talk we looked at some of the texts concerning values, such as Article two of the Lisbon Treaty and the Schuman Declaration of May 1950.
Moving on from this discussion, we then looked at specific case examples of legislation where there have been different interpretations of the values that are contained within the Lisbon Treaty. It became clear that there is a real need for both a firm understanding of these values and a subsequent propagation of this firm understanding.
The third part of the workshop, accordingly, dealt with the practicalities of advocating within the EU institutions, with a specific focus on the European Parliament. Magda offered many profound insights into both the workings of parliament and the way in which we can effectively influence policy and legislation through personal contact and other forms of communication. Her experience of being on both sides of this interchange was invaluable in giving us the knowledge and practical tools necessary to become involved in the world of EU advocacy.
We all really enjoyed the workshop and got a lot from it, not least the extremely practical advice about advocacy. There are two things that I, personally, will take from the session. The first is that the institutions of the EU are full of young people like us working very hard and making things happen. We are not here at this magnanimous institution as mere children hoping to become involved; we and others like us are the very life and soul of Europe! This leads onto the second point that, we can make a huge difference through the work we do here at WYAE. Firstly, we can tap into the vast network of other young people throughout the institutions and promote our vision through well placed contacts with whom we are associates rather than subordinates, and secondly the leaders of the EU (politicians especially) will listen to us both because we are motivated young who have a clear vision and because they have a duty to act upon the will of the people. So, as young people it is very important that we do not shy away from involvement in local, national and international institutions because we can have a great influence, but to do this we must have proper training. That is why the WYA internship is the perfect package…
The workshop left us all, I think, feeling very inspired that we can make a difference and now we know how to!