Regaining Europe

The Regaining Europe project tackles current developments that raise some concerns about the future of Europe. While Europe was and is in a constant state of flux, the decision of the United Kingdom to exit the European Union is an unprecedented indicator of a growing mistrust vis-à-vis an open and solidary Europe. The main concern these days is to preserve European principles and prevent a return to nationalist tendencies. 

Background articles

In 2016, Hans-Georg Wicke (JUGEND für Europa) and Manfred von Hebel (JUGEND für Europa) published the article "Is Europe really lost? Jugend- und bildungspolitische Erwägungen zur notwendigen Erneuerung Europas" in the German publication Außerschulische Bildung. In 2017 the English version "Is Europe really lost?" was published by JUGEND für Europa. 

Regaining Europe - European conference family photograph

European Conference “Regaining Europe – The Role of Youth Work in Supporting European Cohesion”(12-15 March 2019, Leipzig, Germany)

The idea to discuss Europe’s current situation and the potential role of youth policy and youth work in fostering the European spirit is rooted in the “shock day” in June 2016 when Brexit happened, but also in the growing nationalism and populism across Europe. The list of current challenges is long, beginning with the lack of solidarity between European countries in essential political issues, in particular the integration and hosting of refugees and the social divide. The National Agencies for the EU programmes Erasmus+ YOUTH IN ACTION and the European Solidarity Corps from Germany, Italy and Slovenia, and in cooperation with the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership, organised this conference

The organisers of the event are facing the above mentioned challenges on a daily basis and with increasing concerns, in particular regarding the elections to the European Parliament on 23-26 May 2019. They are convinced the European idea needs to be renewed. It would need a new European narrative that responds to the realities of everyday European life. The idea was to discuss the current situation in Europe and the potential role of youth policy and youth work, including the programmes Erasmus+ Youth in Action and European Solidarity Corps, in helping to restore the European spirit and foster European cohesion. Ideas and motivations to organize the conference were to create an environment for critical debate on European values and the future of Europe while making youth work more political and more European. Accordingly, the conference aimed at reflecting on common European issues such as democracy, citizenship, solidarity and the social dimension of Europe as well at motivating and mobilizing participants, in particular young people, to act for the idea of a strong Europe. It provided an opportunity to exchange on shared European values and the future of Europe and to deepen the dialogue beyond borders and between citizens. Youth workers from diverse levels and backgrounds as well as policy-makers, decision-makers, officials, researchers, stakeholders and members of European networks in the field of youth. 

Discussion paper “Providing spaces and building bridges: The Role of Youth Work in Fostering Social Cohesion in Europe”

"European youth work is political by definition and it must stand up for democracy."

Regaining Europe - Discussion Paper "Providing spaces and building bridges: The role of youth work in Fostering Cohesion in Europe"A draft version of the discussion paper was circulated prior to the European Conference “Regaining Europe – The Role of Youth Work in Supporting Social Cohesion in Europe”(12-15 March 2019, Leipzig, Germany) as a basis for reflection. It was drafted by an editorial group of experts and it was revised by the expert group in accordance with the discussions in Leipzig.

The discussion paper aims at reflecting on the current political agenda in Europe and to demand a clear political focus on democracy, social cohesion and human rights. This is particularly true for the EU and its member states. The paper critically analyses current challenges such as growing nationalism, economic policies aiming exclusively at profit growth, denial of ecological consequences, the questioning of the very principle of solidarity and unequal opportunities for young people. Furthermore, the paper brings forward a vision of Europe centred on democratic and social cohesion. Youth workers, political decision makers and further key stakeholders in the field of youth work in Europe are called to stand up and fight for this vision. Specific ideas on how the youth sector can take action are featured in the discussion paper. The organisers of the above-mentioned European conference are committed to the promotion of a social Europe and aim at resolving the challenges thanks to international youth work initiatives as well as this discussion paper.

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