The Civil Society Outreach Unit of the European Parliament, together with InfoHub at the European Parliament in Brussels, co-hosted the second edition of Deliberative Democracy Days, a pivotal event under the ambit of the two-year EU-funded Citizen Z project coordinated by the Intercultural Dialogue Platform. The project's primary objective is to apply deliberative methods to strengthen young people's participation in civic and democratic life and involve them in decision-making processes.
The event entitled "Innovative Deliberative Practices for Youth Engagement, ahead of the European Elections 2024" drew over 100 participants from at least 13 European countries (Italy, Croatia, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Poland, France, Romania, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Kosovo and Turkey). The vibrant assembly included young individuals, civil society organisations, activists, researchers in democratic studies, practitioners, youth associations and representatives, educators and policymakers.
The event unfolded as a dynamic forum with a significant majority of participants falling within the 15-25 age category, infusing the discussions with diverse and fresh perspectives. The occasion featured 23 speakers and moderators, each contributing insights and expertise on various facets of youth engagement, youth representation, deliberative democracy, and pressing concerns for young people such as climate change, mental health, social justice, human rights, housing, and employment.
The opening of the event was delivered by the Civil Society Outreach Unit and the Youth Outreach Unit of the European Parliament, featuring representatives Giulia Busolin and Ana Valiente. They introduced flagship initiatives of the European Parliament, such as together.eu, Youth Hub, and What Europe Does For Me.
Structured into four panels with several keynote speeches, on November 13, the event kicked off with the first two panels presenting preliminary findings from the initial round of deliberations in countries participating in the Citizen Z project, namely Belgium, Italy, Croatia, and the Netherlands. On November 14, the latter two panels were dedicated to fostering meaningful dialogue between young politicians, activists, civil society representatives, youth thinkers, and policymakers. Remarkably, the concluding panel provided a unique opportunity for meaningful dialogue with members of the European Parliament Alicia Homs Ginel and Damian Boeselager.
A notable moment during the event was the introduction of the Elections Path Experience at InfoHub, offering participants a firsthand encounter with this innovative feature. The venue and its staff were praised for their welcome and hospitality, fostering an environment favourable to collaboration and friendly discussions.
The young participants gave overwhelmingly positive feedback, expressing their gratitude for the thoughtful organisation of the event and its value to young people. Many participants approached the organisers, expressing their keen interest in future similar events. Coffee breaks and post-session discussions provided ample opportunities to network and make new contacts, reinforcing a sense of community and fellowship.
The success of the event was reflected in the prevailing atmosphere of enthusiasm and positivity, with organisers notably impressed by the active involvement and eagerness of young attendees to share their perspectives and ideas. Deliberative Democracy Days is gaining recognition as a flagship initiative, drawing increased interest from individuals and organisations who are not only eager to participate but also actively contribute to shaping the program.
As the resonance of innovative deliberative practices continues, the event is testament to the potential for inclusive and impactful youth engagement, paving the way for future editions that promise to influence the discourse on democracy, participation, and the role of the youth in shaping the future of Europe.