On the 3 June 2013 the European Parliament hosted the launch of
AEGEE-Europe’s, project called Y Vote 2014 (AEGEE is the European Students’ Forum).
Following the success of the first edition of the Y Vote Project which was
aimed at raising awareness of the European elections in 2009 and increasing
youth participation, the Y Vote 2014
focuses on the first-time voters and students with an objective to turn them
into important actors of the upcoming European Parliamentary Elections. This is
being done by giving them clear and credible information regarding the elections,
EU institutions, EU decision-making processes and policies, as well as other
relevant information. In this way and through different activities the Y Vote 2014 promotes participation, political knowledge and democratic identification to encourage young
people to take part in the elections.
Until the present day AEGEE has implemented a number of activities within the project, however even more are on the agenda. One part of the Y Vote 2014 Project constitutes an organisation of European Student Conventions – conferences gathering young people to discuss various issues with decision-making bodies from local, national and European level in order to create a Student Agenda for Europe. This is a document which will contain a set of recommendations drafted by participants of those conventions based on their expectations of, and ideas for, a better Europe. This document will further be presented to the next Members of the European Parliament for them to learn the needs of the European youth. Three conventions have already taken place – one about youth participation and European citizenship; another tried to find ways to bridge the EU’s “democratic gap”; and the third addressed the issue of youth unemployment. On the schedule are also many vital, interesting and challenging themes for young people to discuss and demonstrate their vision on. The topics include austerity-solidarity, education and mobility, gender equality, media among many others.
AEGEE-Europe is also developing a Voting Guide which will help young voters to get acquainted with the EU, the rules to be eligible to vote, the voting procedure, the European political groups and parties. The guide will also provide interviews with representatives of every European political group in order for the voters to make a well-grounded and informed decision at the ballot box at the end of May. The Voting Guide will be available online and accessible to everyone in the nearest future.
The third part of the Y Vote 2014 Project is identified with a motto “Y Vote 2014 on the Road” and involves organised bus tours in Croatia, Spain and the United Kingdom to promote citizen participation in the European Parliamentary Elections. This campaign intends to empower the young generations to start a trip on a bus, firstly, in a country severely affected by crisis - Spain; secondly, in a country with striking and increasing levels of euroscepticism - UK; and thirdly, in the new EU member state – Croatia. These bus tours are aimed at encouraging older generations to re-establish their commitment towards, and belief into, united Europe and to ensure more informed choices in the forthcoming elections. The bus tours are expected to take place in May, before the elections.
These are the main activities being pursued by the members of ambitious Y Vote 2014 Project team. However, in addition to all aforementioned - several AEGEE branches around Europe organise their own local activities regarding the European elections which are being documented and supervised by the Y Vote 2014 members. For instance, AEGEE-Leuven invites youth to participate in discussions about the upcoming elections with an MEP Saïd El Khadraoui and specialist on EU politics, prof. Christophe Crombez. Similarly, AEGEE-Lille will visit high schools in their city and inform last-year students about elections to increase young voters’ turnout.
To conclude, AEGEE-Europe is a strong advocate of youth participation and therefore within the Y Vote 2014 Project actively works to engage not only AEGEE members but all young Europeans in the EP Elections in May 2014. AEGEE-Europe welcomes informed, responsible and justified votes, hence the association will continue its endeavours to create an environment that will ensure such votes from all young Europeans.