The German Baltic conference “Europe shall hear you!“ in Tallinn offered young Europeans a space for discussion and exchange. Policy papers were finished after two years of work on them. Additionally the first live meeting of the German-Baltic Youth-Exchange Network took place. This international conference was already the third, organized by the DBJW (German Baltic Youth Office).
During the conference (15th – 17th october) several topics and questions were discussed. Four international working groups finished their policy papers concerning European future questions, like: United or divided – is there a way between individualism and collectivism? Oder: Cure or desgin – what kind of genetic engineering do we want? The policy papers had been prepared during the international conference of the GBJW in Vilnius in 2020. Now the results are there. The policy papers will be handed over to European decision makers and will be discussed with them.
Two keynote speakers contributed to the conference. „Isn’t it strange that the EU only in one case managed to create a digital application that works in each member state?“, asked Andres Sutt, the patron of the conference, the Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology. He had in mind the Covid-19-certificate. „How ambitious do Europeans want to be?“, was another question, he put in his keynote at the beginning of the conference.
The second keynote was dealing with questions of safety in a digital world. Sebastian Cymutta, expert at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, talked about the challenges, caused by cyber attacks on critical infrastructure of liberal democracies, hybrid warfare and the spread of fake news. „Our unique institution, supported by dozens of nations, is focusing on these risks“, said Cymutta.
The keynotes and the additional advice from scientists helped the young participants of the conference to find answers to many questions. Almost 30 „Youth Ambassadors“ worked in four groups an policy papers. Some of the demands of the the young Europeans: More political education at school, more transparancy in the sphere of lobbying, more possibilities to actively participate in a digital society. Another question discussed was, how human dignity can be preserved in a world, where genetic engineering seems to become more and more possible.
Here are the abstracts of the policy papers!
Despite their engagement – many participants of the conference are aware: “We should not be naive and think that what we worked on will have a direct impact on policy making“, said Mathis Sieblist, one of the Youth Ambassadors. The work of the young Europeans is first of all a contribution to the public debate.
The conference answered also questions on how German Baltic youth exchange could be intensified. The first live meeting of the German-Baltic Youth-Exchange Network (GBYEN) brought together representatives of more than 20 organisations from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Germany, e.g. the German Cultural Organisation from Ventspils (Latvia) or the „Junger Rat“ from Kiel. The GBYEN is a platform, where organisations can find partners to realize common projects. „When we planned this conference, we already expected it to be a success. Now the feedback shows us that there is a strong support for our future plans“, said the network organizer Frederike Wende. The next step: The website should be transformed to an information exchange platform.
The conclusion of the organisers: The conference was a meeting place for young Europeans aged 16 to 30 years. Many unexprected ideas derived from the work during the conference. Spontaneously, for example, a side event was set up, concerning ecological aspects of organizing a conference. However, the direct exchange between young Europeans is worth traveling across borders. Those who could not travel, were nevertheless able to participate: The conference was livestreamed worldwide. The social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram had more than 6.000 impressions during the conference weekend. As the manager of the DBJW, Tatjana Vollers, said: „The German Baltic Youth Office is like a plant and we will bring it to full bloom.“