What is the European Youth Event

Thousands of young people gathered at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on October 8th and 9th. This bi-annual event is a unique opportunity for people between 16-30 to interact in-person, inspire each other and exchange their views with experts, activists, influencers and decision-makers about the future of the European Union.

The European Youth Event (EYE) aims to encourage youth participation in politics and voices the concerns of young people to decision makers. The EYE gave us the opportunity to interact with MEPs and other experts in the fields and gain insights on the opinions of the decision makers of the European Union.

Why we wanted to be part of it

Having a delegation of young people supporting Basic Income at this event was an important part of our lobbying efforts this year. Moreover, UBIE was selected among over 260 applications to host a workshop related to Basic Income, whose title was The Future is Yours | Policies for a fairer economy. We hoped to bring Basic Income into the discussion not only in our workshop but also in the many other conferences and activities held during the event.

Our delegation, consisting of 13 young people from Belgium, Germany, Greece, Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania, Spain and Sweden was virtually in contact for almost two years preparing for the event and exchanging views on Basic Income, as this edition of the EYE was originally planned for 2020.

To ensure that everyone in the delegation could participate, we decided to start a crowdfunding campaign in order to cover all travel and accommodation expenses in advance. Thanks to our generous donors we reached 52,6% of our goal and were able to fully reimburse the rest of expenses with the grant of the European Parliament. The Youth Group of UBIE is proud to have made it possible for everyone to attend the event and prevent unfair situations, embodying the values of Basic Income.

What we did at the EYE

During the event we were able to attend a wide variety of discussions, workshops and activities on the topics of our choice. The sessions we attended dwelled on subjects important to us. From seminars about race and how to become an anti-racist ally, to education and how, in the digital age, sex education is crucial. To gender policies and the fight to reduce gender discrimination, what is being done and how we can come up with a solution on these issues. We also had the opportunity to attend several sessions at the Hemicycle and hear first hand from young representatives, for example on the ongoing climate crisis. In these sessions in the Hemicycle we had the chance to raise our voice and openly give our opinion and ask questions to those in the highest positions in the European Parliament.

We also had the opportunity to attend a session on rising trends in social inequalities, which was hosted by Raihere Maruhi, the Secretary General of Mouvement français pour le revenu de base (MFRB). Seeing him directly include Basic Income in the conversation around inequality gave us an idea of how to better frame similar discussions in the future. In addition to that, it cemented the fact that this topic is gaining traction across political centres of thought throughout Europe.

The highlight of the event was the chance we had to present our workshop to other young people, and see how people from different backgrounds, personal and educational, came together to learn more about Basic Income. In our session we also had the honor of meeting Bulgarian MEP Tsvetelina Penkova. Ms Penkova not only participated in the workshop but gave her own insights on the topic.

The main learning points from our participation at the EYE this year are that Basic Income appeals to a wide spectrum of people across political leanings, as well as cultures, and that many are open to entertain the notion, even if they know little about it. Our workshop thus provided a first impression for many participants to consider Basic Income in the personal context of their lives: As students, young professionals, artists or entrepreneurs. Given the response, it’s clear that these conversations deserve to be continued, and involve larger groups in the development process.

We also took over a dozen interviews of random participants at the EYE and it was amazing to acknowledge that most young people already know what UBI is and fully support it.

What’s next for UBIE

The European Youth Event helped us to strengthen the Youth Group of UBIE. We continue to virtually exchange thoughts and ideas on Basic Income, we are involved in the currently active Working Groups of UBIE, as well as taking action in our cities. Inspired by our participation at the EYE, we aim to take several steps forward to share our experience, multiply the impact it has had on us, and initiate different types of action and collaboration to make Basic Income a reality in Europe and beyond.

We of course intend to participate in the next edition of the EYE, with the aim to target MEPs in light of the European Parliament Elections 2024, by convincing them to sign an open letter in support of Basic Income until then. We hope to get selected again to host a workshop, to use the open letter in our advocacy efforts and get again in touch with the MEPs in person!

We aim to continue our virtual participation in other European events, such as future online events of the Conference on the Future of Europe. We’re also working on international collaborations with an increasing number of other youth groups advocating for Basic Income from all over the world, such as the UBI Lab Youth of the UBI Lab Network, young people involved in the world’s largest and longest term experiment on Basic Income in Kenya by GiveDirecly, young Basic Income activists in Sri Lanka, and the Basic Income Canada Youth Network.

Empowering youth into active civic engagement was the aim of our participation at the European Youth Event this year and we succeeded! So keep an eye out for the next update from our Youth Group.