Handing over the keys: young journalists take over Europarl for a day

Youth - 29-06-2007 - 13:07
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European Youth Media Days in the European Parliament

Young journalists at the EP

It's not every day that 270 young journalists descend on the European Parliament. But the "European Youth Media Days" made it happen. Fresh minds were applied to the future of the media in political Brussels, a future few doubt belongs as much to the internet and "new media" as to traditional print and broadcast. Appropriate then, that some journalists got hands-on experience of internet journalism, as they received the keys to the EP website.

This Friday, 29 June, the regular web editors of the European Parliament took a back seat as 22 young editors, one for each language of publication, took over their desks and keyboards. The articles on the following pages were conceived, written, illustrated and published by the young journalists.  Just like the regular crew, they had to pitch their stories and sell their ideas to a hard-bitten editorial committee, but, if the stories are there, they must have succeeded!
The keys to the website are now back where they belong, but we hope you will find the work of the young journalists interesting, enlightening, enjoyable and above all, promising for the future.
The European Youth Media Days event was co-organised by the EP and the European Youth Press.
REF.: 20070622FCS08197

Young Europeans need education, but at what level, national or European?

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office with laptops

Over the past 50 years states have come together to cooperate on issues such as agriculture and trade policy - with consensus that working at European level was best. However, one area where the EU institutions do not have competence is education - this is a national issue. The question we, a group of young journalists, put to other young journalists gathered in Brussels was "should the EU develop an education policy in an increasing competitive world?"
In 2004, a Eurostat survey on the then 25 member states revealed that 15.1% of youngsters leave school with only lower secondary education. But the Lisbon Strategy to improve EU competitiveness demands that by 2010 2 million less will leave school early so 2 million more will graduate. Of course, better education means better jobs and lower employment so could an EU "common education policy" be the answer?
We asked some young European media-makers participating at the EYMD for some feedback.
"All the EU needs to approve is a general idea of the educational system, nothing more than that," said Rada Irmie, 21, from Romania, "It might include regulations like gathering no more than 10 students in a class and stuff
like that. Teachers can influence the early school leavers the most. I think the EU should encourage and fund more programmes for teacher training."
German Susanne Henn felt that everyone should have an equal opportunity to find his or her specific talent. "Young school leavers should have alternatives. They should be offered various job specialization and orientation opportunities."
On the other hand, Katrin Oder, 33, from Estonia said, "No, I don't think that the EU should have a common education policy. The style of teaching is various, and you can't make it equal with an EU system. Cultural and historical background plays a major role".
A 25 year old Belgian, Brecht Soenen, felt the most difficult thing in Europe was switching countries, "I think that Europe needs some guidelines so you can take your education as a journalist in Portugal and then work in Belgium". He stressed the importance of each country's diversity ensuring that, "you can learn more in three days visiting another country than in one year of learning about it at school". 
Although the EU has no official competence on education, it has several educational processes. The mobility grant Erasmum is currently celebrating its 20th birthday in style, satisfied with the 1 million young Europeans that it has let travel and study through-out Europe. The Bologna Process is a cooperation programme that harmonises university education. The European Parliament recently backed two reports, one by Helga Trüpel (Greens/EFA, DE) on the lifelong learning programme and a second on the European qualifications framework by Mario Mantovani (EPP-ED, IT).
So, although there is little enthusiasm for an EU common education policy, we all want better education, more jobs and a bright future. Education must remain a priority for both the EU and each member state to ensure that one and all can have the best go at this one chance of life. 
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Europe's snapshot. Are we printing it well?

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youth behind a camera

"It's not sexy news"- these words came out of several EYMD participants' mouths, when asked about EU coverage in their country. How can Europe become more attractive? Young Europeans seem to prefer travelling than sitting on the sofa and watching TV in order to be informed about Europe. The generation of young travellers gathered  at EYMD prefer personal contact rather than electronic flow of the information. They gave us a few ideas on how to improve the situation.
A sense of being European - where does it come from?
The internet, newspaper and radio are the biggest information sources for young Europeans, but personal contact also plays a role through their constant travelling. Of course, if you're Belgian and you fall in love with a Pole, Europe can take on a whole new meaning. For Brecht, 25, from Belgium, Europe is the diversity of meeting people from several countries. "The internet plays a big role," said Tina, 21, from Germany "for exchanging photos and videos".
However traditional TV is enough for 27 year old Eric from Ireland, "it makes me aware…when I see my local MEP I get the feeling he is doing something".
Aware about your country, or aware about Europe? Should our national media not do more on Europe? Most people felt they should, as traditional media outlets tend to focus mainly on the national agenda, neglecting important information about wider European issues affecting young people. In the words of Daniel, 23, from Hungary, "national media is only interested in national issues, and when it comes to EU they put them aside or try to give it a national angle".
All young media makers suggested the creation of international organisations like European News Agencies, online forums and musical bands. Pablo, 24, from Spain would love a "European news service like CNN but without the sensationalism." Theodoros, 25, from Greece wants more blogs, "to discuss common things with people, and that would be interesting. People don't know a lot about Europe." On a more cultural note, Daniel from Hungary wants more true European bands as he misses "language, culture, music, arts".
Making up the internet generation, young informed people know what they want. So when we combine their suggestions, ideas and energies with the experience and resources of Europe, watch this space.......
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Young people have another way of looking at things

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Young journalists either side of MEP Pál Schmitt

With 270 young people from across Europe gathering in the European Parliament to take part in the European Youth Media Days, we took the opportunity to investigate what voice, if any, young people have in the EP. How many young MEPs are there in the Parliament? Can they make a difference? We went head-to-head with the youngest members of the European Parliament and the most experienced.
Although there are 785 MEPs sitting in the European Parliament, only 35 of them are under 35. What about the young generation?
Some might say that 4% is too low. Apart from neglecting important issues that affect youth, it does not increase European youth's general interest in European politics, meaning they might not even vote in the EP elections in 2009. How do Parliament's youngest and most experienced members feel on the issue?
"Young people have different experiences and perspectives on issues and meet other groups of people, which is important since the EP should represent society as a whole," said Swedish MEP Åsa Westlund (1976, PSE) Young MEPs and established members contribute to the work of the EP in different ways.
Clearly passionate about youth, Monica Iacob-Ridzi (EPP-ED, Romania) said "Europe is young in spirit and innovative, so we have half of the job already done for us; the other half we still need to work on is letting young people know of our work and achievements."
"For me the opinion of young people is very important," said the youngest member of the European Parliament, Bulgarian MEP Dimitar Stoyanov (1983, ITS) as although maybe it's a cliché, "we are the future".
Saïd El Khadraoui (PSE, BE, 1975) said "Young people have another way to look at a lot of issues and younger MEPs have friends that are not politicians to a larger extent, which gives them a different way of looking at problems and possibilities."

For more experienced Austrian MEP Paul Rübig (1953, EPP-ED) the fact that there are few young MEPs is logical. "I think it is difficult to be well known at home to be elected if you are very young. Some politicians wait their whole life to be elected and to become members of EP. I think it's a question of hierarchy."

Whether the representation of young people will increase after the upcoming elections in 2009 is unclear. For the moment, we will just have to keep judging the Parliament by how it affects us personally. Who knows, maybe in 2009 the tables will turn and we will see more young European voices elected to represent us within the hemicycle of the EP.  

Further information :

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Manolis Mavrommatis: Young people have integrity and are responsible

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Manolis Mavrommatis

The current vice-chairman of the Committee on Culture and Education, Manolis Mavrommatis is very concerned with the role of youth in shaping the EU’s future. Born in Greece in 1941, he was elected in 2004 as a member of the European Parliament (European People’s Party and European Democrats). On the occasion of the European Youth Media Days (27-30 June 2007), Mr Mavrommatis, a former sports journalist, spoke to our team of young journalists from several EU member states.
What do you think of youth today, and especially young journalists?
It is a great pleasure for me to communicate with young people today because they are well informed about almost everything, they express their opinion, they read a lot and they truly respect the values of friendship and love. As for young journalists, they have integrity and they are conscious of their responsibilities in society.
In your opinion which is the most important issue that the EP Culture and Education Committee has to face today when it comes to youth and culture?
The most important issue we have to face today has to do with education. As we see, every country has big problems in that area, and we need something more than a national policy to overcome this. I believe that the CULT Committee but especially the European Commission who is the one that gives the impetus as regards legislation can help with policies concerning each and every European country.
More specifically, the practical problem faced by thousands of students who have studied abroad is the mutual recognition of their diplomas. The most important step is the one agreed in the framework of the Bologna process -the recognition of diplomas, if not by all member states, at least by some universities.
We may agree that the choice of professors or the content of studies is a national matter. However, it is the EU that can contribute to mobility within Europe and the exchange of students and cultures from country to country.
As a former sports journalist, how do you see the role of sports in enhancing the European identity?
First, despite its recent 50th anniversary, the EU didn't include the word sport in its legislation until 1998. Together with some other people, I tried to include sports in legislation by drafting relevant reports such as the one on doping.
After the inclusion of the word "sport" in the draft constitutional treaty, we may refer to sports in the EU not as a way of forming champions, but as a factor for improving health

Further information :

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