IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Youth mobility- the key to democratic reforms in the Eastern Partnership countries
A conference on “Youth mobility – the key to democratic reforms in the Eastern Partnership countries” took place on 14 May 2013 in the European Parliament and was organized by Polish MEP Pawel Zalewski from the European People’s Party (EPP), the European Students’ Forum (AEGEE) and the EurActiv web-portal. Experts from the European Parliament, European Commission, European External Action Service (EEAS), Member States, the EaP CSF and European NGOs participated in the event.
The basic aim was to examine the important role of youth mobility between European Union (EU) and Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries in reforming and democratising the latter. The main subjects were the achievements and the current state of play of the visa facilitation process, as well as perspectives and obstacles for visa liberalization for young people.
The experts and officials from EU institutions provided an overview of the scholarships and programs addressed to pupils, students and volunteers from EaP countries. Secondly Pawel Zalewski (MEP) and NGO activists from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and France underlined the existence of hundreds of young and talented people in the EaP countries who frequently cannot acquaint themselves at first hand with European values because of the obstacles in travel to the EU. Furthermore, most of participants agreed that there is a serious need to combat stereotypes of Eastern Europeans, especially in the mass-media, an issue where increased youth mobility could help.
The debate was complemented with an exhibition called “Visa? What’s the reason?” which illustrated how EaP citizens often face absurd visa refusals in spite of the fact that they fulfill all the Visa Schengen Code requirements or re able to produce a long-term positive visa history.