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The end of iDebate opens new doors for young Europeans’ participation

Engaging young people in the European project

Starting from the profound need of the young generation across Europe to engage more actively in the democratic process and to be part of their communities’ growth, the iDebate project aimed at involving young people from seven European countries in learning activities and participate in the public debates and consultations.

Between August 2017 and January 2019, the iDebate project hosted 36 local and international events, with over 2,400 young participants, and tens of thousands of Internet users had the opportunity to track them in real time on facebook pages, on youtube or on the dedicated page of the project, read the news or listen about it on the radio. The events covered topics such as European solidarity, the functioning of European institutions and civic participation, the Euro-parliamentary elections in 2019, fake news and critical thinking, the digital citizen and, finally, sustainable development.

A different kind of report

But if the numbers talk about the efficiency of European project management and our ability to adapt to the intercultural working environment, the ease of working with partners from all European countries due to the political context, the technological advance and the improvement of the mobility at the level of the Union, we would like to remove which we believe, the project managers, is the bigger gain of this project. It refers to the restoration of trust between citizens across Europe, the reopening of intimate channels of communication between people who respect each other, who help and who, feeling more and more secure at home and in Europe, engage in fulfilling a dream.

One of the atuas that our project has started from, and which attracted the approval of the evaluators, was that it brought together young people from countries that are in very different stages of European history and democracy. So we could see the similarities, but also the differences between our preoccupations, the level of civic dialogue and civic involvement. Here are just a few of the participants’ impressions:

”There are very personal discoveries that we made during our project, which makes it more authentic for all of us … for example, the fact that I and the Croatian girls had very similar experiences during the war and the revolution or that Alessandra, mentioning the magnitude of the corruption phenomenon in Italy, discovered that Romania also has a huge problem with corruption. She also spoke with admiration about the young Romanians and about the fact that they are interested in politics and very willing to volunteer, as opposed to a large part of the Italian students, who volunteer to obtain school credits … all these complex experiences, have made us feel part of a big family and I want to thank everyone. To the Management Team and Local Partners: I also want to mention the hard work you have all done in this project. If you are busy and loaded with work,  which I suppose you are, we all deserve to be acknowledged  for the work we put in this project, and because we have given the best of us to bring a plus to the lives of our fellow citizens.” Maria Ciorba, coordinator of iDebate – Romania

It was an intense meeting, I did not expect young people, even if many of them are not yet 18, to be so interested in what is happening at European level, at national level and to want to get involved in the process of decision making, to exercise their citizens’ rights, to get involved in society and in what is happening around them. I presented to the young people the “I vote this time” campaign, an institutional campaign whereby the European Parliament wants them to exercise their right to vote in support of European democracy.” Elena Stănescu, representing Romania’s Liaison Office with the European Parliament

We will certainly go to vote; yes, I will go, it is our duty, we are the young, we will lead society towards a better future. Because I want everything next year to be much better than it is today, to change things. Let’s not be discriminated! Stop being corrupted, because if we vote for someone better, we will have a better future. I want a better future for me and my country, we need to take the initiative and change the situation because the population has become aging due to young people leaving and if we had the chance to vote as soon as that would not happen.” A group of young participants at the international event in Timişoara, November 23, 2018

The implementation of the iDebate project in Portugal was an outstanding experience and also an opportunity to bring together students from high schools and universities to debate the future of European citizenship, European institutions, democratic and electoral processes. The impact on public opinion faced some challenges and the activity of streaming was not always possible, mostly because of wifi constrains at schools. Some interaction trough social media and YouTube was desirable to deepen in future projects. ” dr. Patricia Oliveira, national coordinator – Portugal

The implementation of the activities with similar topics in urban and rural area was an amazing experience. We were working with students who actively participate in the society and with students who still think about basic needs like regular transportation to school and back, healthy meals, local infrastructure… But what is common for all of them is that they all have ideas what they would change in order to have a better life in the future to come. For me personally, the greatest impact of this project is that majority of students understand that every vote counts and they are willing to take their right and vote. Many students were not aware of the threats on internet, how to protect themselves, how to recognize fake news, possibilities they have online that can ease their lives. Throughout implementation of this project many students got more clearer picture of the EU and feel more european.” Dušanka Bukal, Croatia – coordinator of Europe for Citizens Programme activities

Partnering organisations: Student Plus Foundation – Europe Direct Timisoara (RO) (lead partner), The Humanist Science Faculty – Nova University of Lisbon (PT), Pest County Administration – Europe Direct Pest – Budapest (HU), Zavod PIP – Europe Direct Information Centre  Maribor (SI), Udruga IKS – Association for promotion of IT, Culture and Coexistence – Petrinja (HR), Evropska generacija – Zrenjanin (SR), Associazione Eurokom, Gerace – Europe Direct Calabria (IT)

This project is co-financed by the Europe for Citizens project of the EU.

More information:

Event recordings are available in the video archive https://i-debate.eu/live/video-archive/

Media pages: Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia

Furthermore, citizens of all ages are invited to participate in the online forum

 

Contact person, Maria Ciorba

Project coordinator, +40 256 494390, office@studentplus.romaria.ciorba@infoo.ro