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A sizeable number of delagates from the wider YEPP family attended the 2013 Congress of Mlada Slovenija as invited guests. The event was held in the beautiful Alpine town of Bled. I had the honour to represent YEPP at this event and was pleased to get the opportunity to address our Slovenian colleagues on Saturday, 2nd March during their statutory congress. I am very grateful for the kind invitation from MSi and for the chance to attend such a successful, and enjoyable, congress.
Below is a copy of the speech I gave on behalf of YEPP:
Dear Friends, dear YEPP colleagues,
It is a great pleasure to address you here at beautiful town of Bled. I am delighted to get the opportunity to address you as a member of the Irish government party, Fine Gael, but on behalf of Europe’s largest and most influential political youth organisation, YEPP. An organisation that proudly had Mlada Slovenija as members since 2003. I am particularly proud to be able to address you during the term of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. A presidency where youth policies are to the fore.
The Irish EU Presidency has given us the opportunity to push for policies that will have a real and substantial benefit for the youth or Europe. European youth unemployment is now higher than ever in the history of the Union. We have a duty to develop new policy and initiatives to stem this tide.
This week, in Dublin, YEPP delegates presented our policy proposals for tackling youth unemployment and fostering youth entrepreneurship to a packed meeting of the European Committee of the Regions. We have fought tooth-and-nail to ensure our hard work and carefully researched and authored policy are given the coverage they deserve. These policies are now centre stage within the EPP and YEPP is firmly cemented as the leading political youth organisation in Europe.
At our last Council meeting, in Tirana, we issued a statement in support of the MFF agreement as reached by EU Heads of State last month. This goes against the EPP position, but we stood up for what we believed in and stuck to our position. We encouraged MEP’s to “act responsibly” when voting on the MFF. This position was very widely publicised, with MEPs from all sides commenting.
Our role, as young European politicians and innovators has never been so important or influential. The ideas and policies of old have in many cases failed the youth of Europe. Our leaders in Brussels, Dublin or Berlin have given us, the youth, a listening ear to put forward our ideas and our policies. We much seize that opportunity and seize it now.
Over the next few weeks, we will formally launch our “Citizens First” campaign. Some of you may have seen the preview posters published on our social media sites. This campaign is a brave one for YEPP, it actively challenges the status quo of the Commission, the Parliament and even elements of the EPP. We want to see a great citizens connect with the institutions and governance of the European Union, A bottom up approach. An integrated approach. A fair and equal approach. I look forward to working with you all in promoting this campaign.
In less than two months time YEPP will hold our 9th Congress in Sofia. At this we will present further solutions for tackling youth unemployment in Europe today. We will develop a youth solution from a youth perspective. This is a new paradigm for a Europe that is very different from Europe five years ago. So for the first time policy will dominate a YEPP Congress, we actively welcome all contributions. However, the Congress will obviously have a political tone. There, we will elect the new board who will lead YEPP. The people who will lead a YEPP that has developed and grown exponentially over the last two years. We need to ensure a new board, a balanced board, will continue the great work and builds further on what was achieved since 2011. Hopefully we will see a new board with a strong work ethic, where substantive action and nonpartisan effort will come to the fore.
A strong board is crucial for as you will be well aware YEPP, unlike our equivalents on the left, tackle issues that effect us head on. We have provided real solutions, grounded ideas and through these efforts we firmly believe that, if implemented, we will see a better Europe for young people. When we compare what those on the left has done, Young European Socialists or European Liberal Youth, we find very little evidence of real solutions. Very little evidence of policy. Very little evidence of anything that aims to assist the plight of young Europeans. We, together in YEPP, as Christian Democrats and as Conservatives, have worked closely on these topics and issues. We, as an organisation, can only get stronger as we continue this work.
I look forward to working closely with Mlada Slovenija, alongside the youth of Europe in providing real solutions to a very real crisis. I know your membership, through your International Secretary, Federico, will continue to be among our best contributors to the work of YEPP. On behalf of the entire board of YEPP, I wish you every success for your Congress and wish to congratulate your National Board.
Thank you very much for welcome and warm reception.