Brussels, Belgium – On the 3rd of June, the YEPP Board held an e-meeting with European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen where numerous issues were discussed including Covid-19, ‘Next Generation EU’, EU-China relations and the role of the youth. The meeting opened with introductory remarks by YEPP President and MEP Lidia Pereira where she thanked Commission President Von der Leyen for honouring the invitation and outlined the importance of dialogue, specifically during times of crisis.

President Pereira added that “We must ensure that the youth are kept at the centre of the discourse in overcoming this crisis and are actively involved in the strategy of the Union.”

President Von der Leyen began by stating that the EU’s role as a geopolitical actor has strengthened during the Covid-19 pandemic. The European Commission has been approached by numerous organisations to step forward and has responded to the call of action and co-operated with organisations to find a global solution to this crisis. The underlying goal was to create funding for not only research in a global context but to ensure that the pharmaceutical industry is increasing their production capacity when a vaccine is found. 

Furthermore, President Von der Leyen, outlined the impact the crisis has had on the youth. She acknowledged the disruption for young people in education, training and mobility opportunities. Youth living in precarious situations are hit harder particularly as they are more vulnerable to unemployment. Hence, it is crucial that the European institutions invest in topics and fields that are important for the younger generation which include digitization, the EU Green Deal and investment in the resilience of the single market.

President Von der Leyen said that “the youth are there to push the older generation to be more ambitious”, and it is for this reason that ‘Next Generation EU’ focuses on topics at the heart of the European youth to reform and better the EU.

It was also agreed that the EU priorities must be adequately captured in the recovery strategy, as only then will it be a success. President Von der Leyen further acknowledges that national recovery plans will differ across the member states as the industries affected vary by nation. She reassured that the commission will ensure that topics such as the Green Deal and Digitization are integrated in the national recovery plans to ensure the European priorities are. This would overall ensure the growth towards a greater and more united Europe which would reduce division and work towards further cohesion.

The question regarding the EU’s future relation with China was also brought forward, to which President Von der Leyen responded that a relationship with China is inevitable. She further elaborated that we must find a way to increase engagement with China on a daily basis so that we can be more critical with topics that are at the centre of the people’s concerns.

She concluded by urging the youth of the European Union to continue seeking dialogue and bringing forward new and sustainable solutions that will be effective, not only for today’s generation but for the one to come.

“The youth are ambassadors of the European common cause.” – President Von der Leyen