The final day of the Young European Council saw delegates present the result of their negotiations over the previous days.
The event was opened by YEL President Tillman Heidelk.
For Migration and Home Affairs, Ambassador Laura Thompson, Deputy Director of the International Organisation for Migration was present.
The Education to Employment delegates were joined by Michel Servoz, Director General of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (EMPL) at the European Commission.
Finally, Pierre Schellekens, Deputy Head of Cabinet in Miguel Arias Cañete’s Cabinet on Climate Action & Energy at the European Commission, shed his light on the Energy and Climate Action communiqué.
Migration and Home Affairs
As witnessed on Wednesday, the negotiations among the Migration and Home Affairs delegates focused mainly on the refugee crisis. They offered short-term as well as long-term solutions to the crisis at hand. In the short-term solutions, the delegates encourage continuous support for Frontex, including an expanded mandate.
Another short-term solution offered by the delegates is for member states to give asylum seekers the opportunity “to participate in community service.” The long-term solutions focus on strengthening the EU’s external borders as well as its position in return negotiations with third countries.
Here, bilateral agreements between the EU and third countries are key.
An interesting suggestion is the implementation of extraterritorial processing centres, which is aimed at preventing refugees and asylum seekers from taking such dangerous journeys. The internal security issue is also brought up, with a special reminder for the Member States to maintain security and stability in the Balkan region, especially given the region’s recent violent history.
Interesting suggestions were also made in the annex to the MHA’s communique: the delegates recommend a 2-year period of integrational measures, after which refugees may receive a ‘refugee card’ that provides them with the ability to move and work freely in countries of the Schengen Zone.
By implementing a two-year period of integration, the delegates hope to discourage an influx of people to Germany and other ‘popular’ destinations, after the asylum procedures are finished.
In her speech, Ambassador Thompson emphasised that migration includes more than just refugees: “The 21st century is the century of migration. We need to incorporate this element in discussions about economic growth.”
Ambassador Thompson argues that “human mobility is extremely important in light of the high unemployment rate,” and briefly addresses the other themes of the Young European Council as well. Regarding the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, and politicians’ response, she argued that closing the borders to Europe cannot be the consequence of the Paris attacks: “I have a lot of sympathy for France heightening their security, but it’s a risk for society. If we start barricading Europe, the entire European project will be lost.”
In her conclusion, she again stressed the importance of maintaining an open European society: “If we close our borders, the EU would be worse off than today. We have to continue creating an open society. Fear is natural but has no place in European society. We have to control without instilling fear.”
Education to Employment
The Education to Employment delegates focused on solving issues around youth employment and a ‘skills mismatch’ between employers’ expectations and job seekers’ employability. In order to close the employability gap that is a consequence of this skills mismatch, the delegates suggest creating an ombudsman for youth rights.
They also encouraged the European Council to create an interactive online platform to match young people’s competences to skills required by the labour market. The delegates also recognise that the EU has already taken important steps to tackle youth unemployment. They underline the importance of extending and strengthening initiatives such as the EU Careers ambassador scheme and the youth guarantee and youth employment initiatives.
Furthermore, the delegates encourage the EU to reform the educational system, although they admit that this could be difficult since this system differs between member states. Finally, they suggest that the member states foster a culture of entrepreneurialism and internationalisation among the European youth.
Energy and Climate Action
As the Paris Climate summit nears, the theme of Energy and Climate Action was highly relevant. Although negotiations proved very tough, the end result shows some interesting suggestions for future EU policy. Security was important to the delegates, whose recommendations aimed at increasing energy security and decreasing dependence on the currently small number of suppliers.
Furthermore, the delegates call for decarbonisation in order to “meet the emission reduction targets as a matter of urgency”. Finally, several recommendations are made to increase European energy cooperation and financing the suggested measures.
Addressing each of the points made by the Energy and Climate Action delegates separately, Mr. Schellekens is content with the suggestions made by the delegates. Schellekens underlines the emphasis that was made on the European energy infrastructure and applauds the delegates for including financing into their communiqué.
As President Heidelk ends the Young European Council’s Closing Ceremony, he urges the delegates to take the communiqué to their national political leaders and bring it to the attention of the public. “Start lobbying to get the suggestions in this communiqué implemented.”
YEL President, Tillman Heidelk, had also thanked the delegates for their enthusiasm and underlined the importance of their work: “It’s upon us to act, and you showed that you did.” After his short opening remarks, the President invited the chairs of the three delegations to present the results of their delegates’ negotiations. These results, combined in a final communiqué, were presented to experts from each field, who shortly reflected on the communiqué and explained the EU’s role and actions in their respective fields.
Words by Lisanne Oldekamp
Pictures by Young European Leadership