TALLINN - It is vital that young people remain in the center of European Union developments, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said at a European Union Youth Conference in Tallinn on Tuesday.
At last year's Summit in Bratislava, leaders of the EU set a goal of offering the best opportunities to the younger generation, combating youth unemployment and improving programs aimed at young people. We need to keep initiatives that are important to the young in focus, so that these initiatives can occupy a significant place in the strategy papers of the European Union and in future financial frameworks," Ratas said in his opening speech of the EU Youth Conference at the Tallinn Creative Hub.
The four-day event has brought more than 260 young people, policymakers and people involved in the field from the EU and its partner countries to Tallinn to discuss topics that are important to young people, to analyze current challenges and involve the participants in developing the new European Youth Strategy.
As positive examples from current cooperation, the prime minister of Estonia highlighted the Erasmus programme, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year, and the Youth Guarantee, which ensures that when young people become unemployed or leave school, they could get a job, continue their education or be actively involved in society in some other way as soon as possible.
In the youth field, in addition to future topics, Estonia's priorities for the presidency of the EU Council are smart youth work, which is closely linked to the general development of the digital field and innovation, participation in developing EU policies and voluntary activities.
"In Estonia young people are the everyday users of digital services like e-identity, e-voting, e-school, etc. In addition Open Youth Centers use e-solutions for mapping young people's participation in their activities. These are only some examples as there are more ongoing developments in the creation of new and innovative tools for better involving young people and youth workers in learning and in society, which in turn is vital for the development of the European Union and its member states," Ratas said.
According to the Estonian head of government, voluntary activities among young people are also necessary. In December 2016, the European Commission initiated the creation of the European Solidarity Corps, which helps people between ages 18-30 to get involved in joint activities that promote solidarity, both in their home country and abroad. During its presidency, Estonia will work on reaching an agreement concerning the legal basis of the initiative, so that its activities could start in full already in 2018.