A European Political Youth Organisation This year we celebrate the first 5 years of YEPP. Making this also a time of evaluation we want to challenge ourselves and our mother parties within EPP. What is the role of a European Political Youth Organisation? In what way should we define and aim our activities for the next years? This paper is made to promote such an evaluation. A Political Youth Organisation should be an organisation – a movement – with and for young people. Not only young people elected into positions for the mother party, but also for any young persons interested in trying to influence their society and its future by democratic activities based on common ideas. Such an organisation should be independent and run by its own members. Of course a Political Youth Organisation is connected to its mother party. The main channel of influence is also through that party. However the Youth party should have an independent role, being able to motivate, provoke and promote its own mother party. We see the Youth Organisation as something more than just a gang of young supporters for the politics and politicians of the mother party. There must be a possibility for the youth to promote topics of their own or certain approaches they like to see their party undertake. This also means being visible in public, with both support and constructive criticism. The youth of a mother party have of course the role of learners and supporters, but also shareholders with the right to influence. The mission of a Political Youth Organisation should be based on three main positions: 1) The campaigner - awakens young people’s interest in society and democratic participation. 2) The practical school - educates young people to efficiently influence the society with democratic means. 3) The ideological school – enables young people to influence the society with the principles of our ideology. A party-political youth organisation should be both a process of education and a democratic force of influence. Knowing that an active youth organisation can cause trouble for their mother party, we underline that it’s very often the same trouble that can give the momentum to keep the mother party alive. Not just by feeding it with new generations to carry on business as usual, but to develop and improve the party. Europe as the arena The specific role of YEPP is to unify the strength and act as a voice on behalf of the different national member organisations. Our structure is therefore created as a prolongation of the member organisations. Despite the local diversities within, YEPP aims at being a common voice towards and within the EPP and the European Union. In our first years YEPP needed a focus on consensus and unity. This has truly made YEPP stronger and more secure. To promote political innovation and (Promoting political innovation) and strengthening YEPP further, we need to develop a stronger political role (see also work plan 2001-2003). The young “Think Tank” with its own voice should be our next goal. We should aim at being the main channel for young Europeans to exercise influence on the European arena. Aiming at this we must promote the political debates in our own structures, and we must build up a strategy to bring out our political message. On the basis of the efforts made in our first years we have now the strength and confidence to evolve. New democracies Reaching from Georgia in East to Ireland in the West, Norway in the North to Malta in the South, YEPP includes a lot of political and organisational knowledge. However, the strength
of our member organisations and the conditions for their work varies dramatically. Because of this fact we want to play a role in developing the political work within our member organisations. We are an organisation working for democracy all over Europe. Given our role as a European Youth Organisation, we also need to look closer into whether there is a need to develop specific programs for training young people in working on the European arena. In this effort YEPP should search for partners such as the EPP foundations and the European Youth Forum. Much is already tried out, and co-operations do exist, but YEPP needs to look closer into how we can find partners for new, possible approaches. All this should be done on the basis of an evaluation of our existing activities. A European Youth Channel If YEPP shall have any luck in establishing itself as a main channel to influence on a European arena for young people we need a clearer profile. This means prioritising the political topics of highest importance to us. The message we want to deliver must be hitting target groups and key issues for our desired profile. We need to develop our own strategies and methods for working with the European media. First of all we might even need to identify the appropriate media. In this work we need to find appropriate channels, better materials and methods. All this is necessary to build up a distinguished voice and character that can be recognised in a jungle of information and political promotion. In almost all aspects the creation of a European Youth Party is still in its early stages. This is of course because the European Political Parties themselves are just at their very beginning. Indeed their working conditions and the project of building a European Identity are quite debated issues. The picture is however showing a more instant European integration, and thus a bigger role to play for both European Mother Parties and Youth Organisations. Our work trying to make our own public identity and reach out to young Europeans will not be an easy job, but it’s a task that needs to be seized with the ambition of success. Actions: 1. Establishing a Main Political Profile for YEPP: focussing on the topics we defined in the paper “The Future is Ours” as sole European competencies and the shared competencies with the Member States. Therefore we need to set up ” A Political Programme for YEPP” for the next YEPP Congress to enhance our role as political player. 2. Develop our own Communication Strategy for improved internal and external communication. 3. Evaluate our activities and look closer into the possible necessity for specific training programs for young European politicians. 4. Work for improved economic conditions for running European Political Youth Organisations. 5. Hearing among our EPP mother parties to get feedback on YEPP’s role as a European Political Youth Organisation. 6. Promote exchange among national youth parties on experiences made in the fields of youth policy and in the running of their own activities. 7. Give European Youth a voice at the global level through representation in global fora like UN global youth meetings and within the Centrist Democrat International and Christian Democrat International (CDI).