The voice of youth in Europe echoed in Parliament

The senior and junior ambassadors from Leal da Câmara Secondary School, under the supervision of Isabel Baltazar, the pedagogical coordinator of the European Parliament's Ambassador Schools programme, organized a debate in the Senate Hall of the Portuguese Parliament, on the theme of The Voice of the Youth in Europe - Democracy, Sustainability and Human Rights - which Europe do you want in the 2024 elections? It took place on October 27, and brought together 11 participating EPAS schools from the north to the south of the country, bringing together more than 250 young people in front of a panel of illustrious protagonists of national and European political life, who readily responded to the invitation to listen to the questions and suggestions of these youngsters.

Sitting at the table to listen to these students were the Vice-President of the Portuguese Parliament, Edite Estrela; the Minister of Education, João Costa; the Member of the European Parliament, João Albuquerque; the President of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Science, Alexandre Quintanilha; a representative of the European Parliament's Office, Mário Queiró; and a representative of the Communist Youth, Mónica Mendonça; for a debate in which all the parliamentary groups were invited to take part. In addition to their speeches, the protagonists of national and European political life were available to answer the questions posed by the various students from the different schools and listened attentively to their suggestions. "It was a day of real democracy in action. These young people showed their concerns, asking questions, asking for clarification and even giving suggestions on current affairs, namely the fight against abstention in the next European elections in 2024," said ISEC Lisboa professor Isabel Baltazar.

Moderated by professor Isabel Baltazar PhD, all the schools were able to make their voices heard. From Colégio de Gaia, Escola Secundária Gaia Nascente, Colégio Ined, Colégio Alemão do Porto, Escola Secundária de Arganil, Escola Secundária de Moimenta da Beira, Escola Secundária Eça de Queirós and Escola Secundária Rainha D. Leonor from Lisbon, Colégio Amor de Deus from Cascais, Escola Secundário Poeta Joaquim Serra from Montijo, to Escola Secundária Leal da Câmara from Rio de Mouro, all the spokespeople for the junior ambassadors from the participating schools spoke.

It was up to Isabel Baltazar to close the session on "What Democracy for Europe?" The pedagogical coordinator of the European Parliament's Ambassador Schools program said that "the European Union is currently at a crossroads, aggravated by the constant crises, wars and the fact that the vast majority of Europeans are not involved in the European construction project. Or, on the contrary, they are Eurosceptics or even against the European project. Reflection on European democracy must be the priority for thinking about the participation of the people in this Europe that is a return to its very genesis. On the other hand, in addition to the scant participation of citizens in the process of European construction, the European institutions themselves suffer from a democratic deficit", giving as an example the case of the European Parliament, the institution elected by the citizens but which needs to deepen its democratic vocation, since Europeans show no interest in participating fully and others feel powerless in the face of the institutions. As a result, European democracy is constantly being questioned as a way of promoting greater participation in the European area.

Photos: Sandra Ribeiro ©Assembleia da República