Zagreb, Croatia – What is Europe’s perspective on ‘strategic autonomy’ and ‘modern sovereignism’ in shaping its global role? How does Artificial Intelligence impact Europe’s future? How do we see the way forward on the European continent? From the 21st to the 24th of September, the Youth of the European People’s Party gathered in Zagreb to discuss these key issues during its Council Meeting with the theme ‘Redefining Europe’s Role: From Global Challenges to European Opportunities’. The Council Meeting was hosted by MHDZ Croatia and welcomed over 75 delegates from our 64 member organizations.

Ahead of the event, recently re-elected YEPP President Lidia Pereira set the tone for the upcoming days: “We believe that Europe’s pursuit of ‘strategic autonomy’ and embrace of ‘modern sovereignism’ will play a pivotal role in shaping its global stance. As we gather in Zagreb, we envision a forward-looking Europe that seizes opportunities, confronts global challenges, and stands united in its pursuit of a prosperous and secure future”.

During the weekend, delegates had the opportunity to attend different discussion panels and learn from the experience of key political figures. They also visited the Croatian Parliament, where they engaged with the Chairman of the Parliament Club and different MPs, discussing the current political situation in Croatia and Europe. At the first panel, ‘Europe’s Global Role: Strategic Autonomy and Modern Sovereignism,’ delegates were addressed by the Prime Minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenkovic. He described Croatia’s successful journey of accession to the European Union, which ultimately led to its entry into the Schengen Area and the Eurozone in 2022. Another panel, ‘Artificial Intelligence’s impact on our future: What are Europe’s positions and are we ready,’ focused on the opportunities and challenges of AI and was addressed by Lídia Pereira, Hrvoje Bujanovic (State Secretary, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development), and Martina Silov (Executive Director of the Croatian AI Association). Lídia highlighted the “transformative force of AI that will significantly impact Europe’s future,” warning that “its benefits must be harnessed by the Union.” Finally, delegates also attended a discussion on ‘3D – decarbonization, digitalization, demography: the way forward?’.

In addition to these discussions, delegates had the opportunity to engage in debates on various resolutions concerning pressing issues affecting Europe. These resolutions covered a range of topics, from the current housing crisis to the challenges faced by farmers in Europe, as well as the weaponization of grain by the Russian Federation, and many more. Delegates from the different national youth parties proposed these resolutions, which were subsequently voted on and adopted by the YEPP Council. They can be accessed here.

YEPP extends its gratitude to the Croatian youth organization MHDZ for their exceptional organization of the event and looks forward to future collaborations.