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EDP MEPs tell us why they chose to fight for Europe

"Languages, cultures, regional differences and local initiatives must be cherished because they are Europe’s strongest asset."

The EU's responsibility is both to meet the current needs of young people and to open up opportunities for them

Sarah El Hairy à Guidel

Europe is now facing its history.

The Ukrainian crisis is a stark reminder that without a strong, truly democratic and autonomous political Europe, our continent cannot remain stable.

It would be unrealistic, even mortifying, to think that a single one of the 27 can create the conditions for this stability.

To do this, we must overcome divisions and differences and bring our political family together across borders. We must be able to convince, of course, but also to listen and put ourselves in the shoes of our neighbours.

The world needs a strong Europe, as current events are proving more and more.

It is crucial that we unite in order to have an impact on the international scene and to defend our values when confronted with continental powers.

I believe that our future depends on it.

This will only be possible if we, as European Democrats, succeed in uniting largely. Faced with the rise of nationalist parties throughout Europe that advocate withdrawal and hatred, faced with the rise of populism and demagogues, our responsibility is immense.

As France has held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union since 1 January, our country, beyond the components of the majority, and even beyond the political parties, is facing history. It is much more than a presidential election that is at stake.

Our first challenge is to reconcile Europeans, starting with young people, with the European idea. With the idea that Europe is their future.

Its realisation is within reach for the new generations.

To begin with, we must involve them in our decision-making processes: the preservation of the European democratic model and its development call for a rethinking of the place and role of young citizens in the process of drawing up and monitoring public policies. This is the meaning of our action, as at the informal meeting of the European ministers for education and youth on young people's commitment to the environment on 26 January. For the first time, we brought together 27 young European delegates from all the Member States alongside the ministers, to exchange the most innovative practices designed to encourage the commitment of young people. This meeting resulted in proposals that are now feeding into the European strategy in this area.

We must give more substance to this European citizenship, more substance to our common history. And if there is one thing I am sure of, it is that a committed Europe is a Europe that gives young people a concrete opportunity to make their voices heard at the highest level. A committed Europe is a Europe that gives a voice to young people; it is a Europe that is based on the concerns and needs of young people. And these concerns affect all our policies, or almost all of them, well beyond "youth" issues. The fight against climate change, but also the questions of strategic and energy autonomy, of European defence, the situation at our borders, especially in Ukraine.

In this very special year - with the European Year of Youth, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union and also the French national elections - I would like to remind you of our ambition for young people in Europe: to give each and every one of them control over their own destiny. By helping our young people to feel that they are truly European citizens, we are working to build our European destiny. The EU's responsibility is both to respond to the current needs of young people and to open up the field of possibilities for them, to help them invent their future with confidence and optimism - this is our primary mission as European Democrats.

Sarah El Haïry
Minister of State for Youth and Engagement, attached to the Minister of National Education, Youth and Sport