European Union
Youth Conference
Estonia 2017

23-26 October 2017
Tallinn, Kultuurikatel

enter VR

During the Future Festival, participants explored what matters to young people today and for the future. They worked hard on expressing, discussing and unfolding important themes. Here you find a sneak peak into the themes from the Future Festival.

The harvest of each theme is much longer, and will be taken forward by the researcher’s, to form guiding questions for the consultation process.

The Dying art of Disagreement – are safe spaces really the best answer?

Methodologies on living together, taking decisions and be more active in democracy

Getting out of one set of thinking patterns & question of the bubble – how to grow out of one set of thought and get into action (pro-active attitude towards enforcing democracy).


  • Humanising people, who do not agree with you politically. (both sides)
  • Critical thinking (non-violent communication) which respects freedom of speech.
  • The role of formal and non-formal education in helping build this and make it visible.

Accessible education for all, and opportunity equality

Equal opportunities for all and no restrictions in pursuing your dream just by your location.

Grading system is different in each European country. E.g Ireland has a different grading system to Estonia. This makes it hard for students who are moving from one European country to another to get smooth admission. We want the grading system to be one within Europe to ease migration. Exchange, mobility and thus enhancing inclusion and oneness.

  • insisting on the existing human right of education for all
  • ensure possibility of attending any form of higher education no matter the secondary education
  • emphasizing that education is our most powerful tool in shaping the future

Coherence in the Youth Strategy

Co-management in decesion-making, MONITORING, and implementation en of the future Youth Strategy

The idea was to think about the general coherence of the Youth Strategy (in terms of monitoring, budget, youth participation, general objectives and values). We gathered ideas about the current framework and the challenges to overcome for the future of the process.


  • Monitoring of the Strategy
  • proper implementation at national and local level and cross-sectoral approach

Disinformation & media literacy in the EU & EaP

We would like to see a critical thinking, well-informed community of young people, who are not afraid to speak up.

Our group mapped theme of disinformation, which affects society as a whole with a focus on marginalized youth, minorities, youth with lower opportunities to education. Challenges widespread – radicalisation, mental health, low level of politucal articipation, stereotyoes. Basically it has ooportunities too – big amount of data full of info which is usually not interpreted deeply enough. Alternatives – empower civil society and create alternative information against fake news. We can fight stereotypes by awareness raising and education.
Future? We want well informed, critical thinking young people community, which would speak up and act responsibly. If the goal is reached – social climate will be better for mental health, it’s an interconnected approach.


  • Responsibility and critical thinking
  • reaching out to minorities and marginalized youth and empowering civil society


We envision a Europe with a shared high quality education system including various forms of learning equipping young people for an ever-changing, intercultural and digitalized world.

We talked about the problems present in education (including high school, non-formal, VET, university, …) today and changes needed to make it work in the future.


  • the contents of education
  • the different ways of learning
  • the needed framework for a successful education system

Ensuring democracy and participation outside of election processes

The most politically aware, active and influential generation in the history of the world. No reason to aim for anything less

We discussed different aspects of ensuring youth participation in a more general sense than just elections. Among the things touched upon were relevant tools for equipping young people to participate fully, the principle of ensuring all youth groups are represented, civic education and critical thinking as well as the need for financial stability, autonomy and security for youth CSO’s.


  • The need to ensure that measures for youth involvement have a high quality, to motivate youth to participate and to ensure that the tools for youth involvement are actually influential. In this regard we also concluded that tools for youth involvement should me developed and implemented with the involvement of young people
  • The need for greater civic education in formal education systems as well as ensuring that critical thinking and analysis is a skill learned in education. In this regard it was concluded that there is a need for greater academic autonomy, as well as ensuring that civic education is practical and that educational institutions need to be democratically organised.
  • We discussed equal access for different groups of young people to influence the society they live in both within youth organisations and society as a whole. There is, in this regard, a need to ensure that young people can contribute in different formats, as not all young people enjoy meetings.

Erasmus + Mobility and Diversity

We want more funding and more accessibility.

What makes mobility work, what are the challenges and solutions behind it and how diversity is affected by it.

  • Budgeting
  • Housing problems
  • Inclusion of people with handicaps


Youth-centric Europe everchanging and safeguaridng European values and principles worldwide

European unity, skepticism, disconnect between the EU and its citizens


  • Disenfranchisement of citizens (young people) in the European project
  • Democratic deficit of EU bodies and institutions
  • The vision of group members for the future of Europe

How can we prepare young people the best for the labour market

Prepared, educated, experienced and well-informed young people ready to engage in an ever-changing labour market without the fear of being discriminated

Our group talked about practice during education, student’s work, internship, information about employment and worker’s rights, social responsibility.


  • Practical experience during education
  • Student’s work
  • Information about employment


Inclusion in European Youth programmes

European youth programs to not confirm the status quo of social groups

We discussed the different European Youth programs and their (entry) barriers for young people in EU and non-EU countries to access them.


  • Communication/ visibility/ information/ outreach
  • Reaching out to organized versus unorganized youth
  • Barriers to inclusion (geographical, economic, social…)

Inclusion, Gender and Empowerment

We see a Union where Member States and other stakeholders use their experience to support and complement the creation of a diverse, inclusive and free society to be part of and express yourself regardless your gender, culture or abilities

The group basically focuses on the improvement of existing process and policies that affect minority or vulnerable groups with greater focus on Women, LGBTQI+, cultural minorities, people disabilities. With the use of gender perspective and the knowledge on existing issues that affect us as young people we discussed the difficulties and division made by exclusive education and lack of collaboration.


  • Women Empowerment
  • LGBTQI+ inclusion
  • protection minority groups.

Decrease of the prevalence of mental health issues among young people

That there is less stress for young people and that they should be able to recognize and address that in a society with no stigma

Methods of prevention and intervention for mental health issues. What are the issues young people get stressed about. Examples of good practice.

  • Solutions to be reached by both formal education and civil society – to complement each other.
  • Free and accessible mental health care for all across Europe and support at work.
  • Education for everyone to understand and deal with own and others mental health. Freedom of stigma.

Migration and how it affects Youth in Europe

the need to reconsider the concept of the elements of 21st century identity;
how do we address the second and third generations of migrants

Migration processes in Europe
What do youth organizations can do to address the issues related to xenophobia and discrimination
Access for migrants to education and labor market
Unaccompanied and separated minors on the move
What makes you who you are – the elements of the identity and how big part is the culture, religion, nationality; what does it mean for young people
participation of migrants in the hosting communities
representation of migrants in NGOs, working groups

  • Identity building and it’s link to European values;
  • The means of inclusion – vie education, intercultural learning, access to labor market, etc.
  • EU youth and migration policies and how to use them to make a change;

Open/free youth spaces

We would like to encourage local governments, business and youth work to recognize the importance of youth spaces and involve the youth perspective in designing new areas in public space or existing infrastructure

Open, safe and free youth spaces as places for the development of personal, cultural and political identity of young people. Defining youth spaces as “physical infrastructure for youth work, informal and independent learning, physical activity and leisure time use by and for young people”


  • We distinguished youth spaces as physical places where young people meet each other, relax, learn, explore and organize themselves. ‘A youth place is a place that young people recognize as ‘their space’. It should be free, open, safe, formed to the expectations and needs of the young people who use it.
  • The aspect of self-organisation is at the core of a successful strategy for youth spaces
  • Besides physical free spaces, also the institutional structures and support systems need to provide free spaces for young people, i.e. that young can determine themselves what topics are most relevant for them and also activities like playing/relaxing/meeting other people need to be recognized as an important part of the lives of young people.

Rural and Urban differeces

That this is on the agenda and is taken seriously

The group talked about growing polarization between rural and urban areas and challenges that this polarization poses.


  • unemployment
  • infrastructure
  • equality of opportunities

The recognition, validation and certification of non-formal education

European recognition and validation for non-formal education!

We talked about different possibilities to bring communities closer and the skills and competencies of European youth getting recognized and validated, whether they gained the skills from non-formal education in their home country or some other place in Europe. Proper validation of non-formal education inspires youth to engage and get involved in organizations, communities and society, as they get recognition to the work and learning that they do.


  • Non-formal education needs to be recognized throughout Europe with a European framework.
  • Youth organizations are crucial providers of quality non-formal education.
  • Non-formal education creates freedom of choice and individual pathways of learning for different groups of people and compliments formal education outcomes when recognized and validated. The recognition of non-formal education inspires young people to get involved in communities and society where they can gain recognizable non-formal education skills and competencies.

Youth and environment and sustainability

We want a society where all citizens, especially young people, can be active, changing their realities at the very local level as well as in shaping national and european policies for a sustainable world

Sustainable future and climate change affect everybody but especially young people. Actual and future young people will be impacted by the current decisions and choices.

There’s a need for radical change in our societies in order to prevent climate change and biodiversity extinction. All sectors of the society should be involved : Finding solutions, being active, … A healthy planet is a precondition for future life. Where do we want to move to as a society, an infinite growth in a world of limited resources is not possible.

Even though it especially affect young people, they don’t have say on many policies related to their future: Agriculture, mobility, food, consumption, …

But young people can be considered as a ressources and as positive change makers. There’re many ideas, projects, actions that exist already in different areas but that are not recognized or supported enough.

Youth participation

We hope for better definition of youth participation (not only in decision making process)

In general, we were talking about youth participation. It’s fundamental right – active participation, young people are empowered to play a vital role in their own development as well as in that of their communities,
Is helping young people to:
– learn vital life-skills,
develop knowledge
– promote positive civic action.

To participate effectively, young people must be given the proper tools, such as information, education about and access to their civil rights.

We were talking about voting at 16, engagement, types and models of participation.


  • How do we define and understand participation
  • Voting at 16
  • Role of youth NGO in youth participation

How to increase youth participation with digital solutions?

Use technological possibilities to enhance new and meaningful participation methods while reaching wide range of young people

We tackled a lot of issues such as regarding the habits of youth participating online right now, where different European countries are in terms of digitalization, major players on the field of digitalization and what is their role in the shaping of online participation, what should the future of online participation be. Why do we use technology for these kinds of issues, where should we be headed in terms of digitalization.

We mapped the main elements of the usage of digital mechanisms by youth.

  • Context of the EU – as we talked we understood that the usage of digital solutions are really different in the context of the EU. Some of the countries like Finland and Estonia usage of digital solutions and tools in education and society overall is really high. But in countries like Cyprus and Luxembourg, the usage is really low. In a one word, the differences of countries should be leveled the same.
  • Importance – Using digital solutions as a tool for highering youth participation has lots of potential. In the globalizing world and taking in consideration the development speed of technology, there are several ways to increase youth participation like e-voting, platforms for young to collaborate, in order to maximize entrepreneurship, have complementary teaching methods in education, making everyday bureaucracy faster and easier.
  • Challenges – The main challenges which came our in group session are mainly based on lack of education and development of the countries digital systems: no platforms for youth (due to data protection), willingness to use platforms, slowly adapting (education) system, people do not want to change, transparency, making the best out of using technology, be able to keep up with the thinking of the youth.