The European Youth Event (EYE 2014) brought together 5,000 Europeans aged 16-30 to exchange ideas on youth-related issues in Strasbourg on 11 May. They took part in panel discussions on topics such as human rights, youth employment, the digital revolution and sustainability and talked about their ideas for the future of Europe with politicians, journalists and other decision makers. Their ideas will be handed to the newly-elected MEPs during the first plenary of July.
More than 200 workshops and seminars took place with participants, including 180 speakers and MEPs, exchanging ideas on Europe's future direction. After three days of debate, people came up with proposals including stronger legislation to protect trainees, uniform EU election rules and better education on European affairs.
Young journalists attended all debates and will compile a report with the results to be presented to Parliament in July.
Meanwhile the YO!Fest, organised by the European Youth Forum, took place outside the Parliament building. Young people had the opportunity to explore stands run by various youth organisations, while also enjoying activities and entertainment provided in the YO!Village. There were also two Instameetings, encouraging people to explore the Parliament building while professional photographers showed them good spots for taking pictures. Afterwards the participants uploaded the photos to Instagram with the hashtag #EPinstameet.
Among the 240 volunteers from Sciences Po Strasbourg was Wendy Carazo, 24. She attended a debate on human rights in the Parliament's chamber and expressed her belief in a barrier-free Europe where we are all like a "real family".
High-school student Ola Michalska, 18, who travelled from Złotoryja in Poland, described EYE2014 as "an amazing event" while Colin von Ciriacy, a 21-year-old student from in Passau in Germany, said young people must be convinced of the importance of Europe as "this is the only way the EU can exist in the future".
Zsolt Marton, from Hungary, said: "I hope the future Europe will be open, with possibilities for young people to move around between countries to move and work - and I hope it will happen in the near future."
As EYE 2014 came to a close, participants already asked for future editions. Muriel Grégoire, 30, from the Netherlands, said: "In Europe, the best thing we can do is try to make it a better place for everybody, try to reconcile all the different opinions and find what we call in Dutch the golden middle way. I think that is the key to the success of Europe - and to its future."