22 March 2019
Involving Young People in Local Politics Is Key to a Social Europe

Involving Young People in Local Politics Is Key to a Social Europe

PES Group President Catiuscia Marini took today part in a panel debate on "Defending Democracy", organised in the framework of the School of Democracy by the S&D Group in the European Parliament.

Addressing some hundreds of young people from across Europe and beyond, President Marini stressed: "Most of you will vote for the first time in the European elections. Contrary to my generation, you have grown up against the backdrop of a Europe under threat, a Europe that didn’t managed to deal with major challenges, such as the economic crisis, youth unemployment, social inequalities and climate change. Two months before the European elections, it is high time for progressive forces to stand up and provide solutions for our society. My generation thought democracy and equal opportunities were engraved in the EU's DNA. Today this is not true any longer, so Europe faces an enormous challenge. We need to fight to continue protecting the values of freedom and democracy."

She went on to emphasise that "Young people have great uncertainty and fear about their future. Against growing populist voices, progressive politicians need to engage in a dialogue about these fears and lead a change that puts solidarity back at the heart of Europe."


She underlined that "The populist challenge we are faced with is taking roots in our cities and regions. This is why progressive cities are the best laboratories to drive change on the ground. It is ultimately at local level that we need to fight populists, and we can do this only together, by involving young people in the political life of their communities."

She was joined in her call for engaging young people in local politics by the mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, who stressed that for a multicultural city like Brussels, participation is the key, and that only by listening to young people we can open up to a more sustainable society. "Young people are taking the streets to save our planet and we need to support them. Creating a sustainable society is a common responsibility and means that everybody is involved."

The School of Democracy is taking place in Brussels from 20 to 22 March. The event is part of the wider initiative European Week for Democracy, which also includes a Together event on "Shaping our society: Time for another future"; and will end with a March for Europe on 25 March.

During the week, the PES Group has organised a workshop on "Learning Democracy Locally".