The Network of Young MEPs & MEPs Stelios Kympouropoulos (Greece, EPP), Kira Marie Peter-Hansen (Denmark, Greens/EFA), Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (France, RE), and Alessandra Moretti (Italy, S&D), will host a two-day in-person conference of young local elected politicians from across the European Union. The initiative, which falls under the high patronage of the European Parliament and the European Committee of the Regions, is also supported by the Young Elected Politicians Programme and the European Local Leaders Group. Taking place in Brussels, the conference will seek to give young politicians, approximately 70 in total, the opportunity to meet their respective European counterparts, to share their ideas and experiences of the local, national, and EU dimensions, and to learn in greater depth how the EU institutions function. The gathering will give the floor to the young elected leaders themselves, facilitating them to have their voices heard, while also allowing different levels of political governance to meet and discuss the pressing issues of the day. The initiative itself was largely inspired by the successes of the Conference on the Future of Europe, and the European Commission instigated “European Year of Youth 2022.” With few specifically youth oriented events planned for this year, the Young Leaders of Europe Conference was deemed to be both a necessary and timely inter-institutional venture. The two-day event will kick-off on June 21st at 14:30 at the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), during which an assembled panel consisting of MEPs, Mayors and Regional Governors, will engage with the young elected leaders. Senior figures from both the Commission and the CoR will be among those making opening remarks. The theme ‘citizen participation,’ especially as it relates to youth engagement, and how this can foster a sense of democratisation, inspiration, and hope for our future societies, will be the focus point for discussion. A networking cocktail will follow the proceedings later that evening. On the morning of day two, June 22, conference participants will visit the European Parliament, during which further concluding discussions/presentations are planned to take place, including a formal institution tour. The conference will draw to a close that afternoon.

Nektarios Kalantzis, the President of the European Local Leaders -ELL Group visited #Berlin and #Rostock, 9-12 May, 2022. He spoke with representatives from the Deutscher Bundestag, Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz, Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag e.V. (DIHK), @BDI – Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, TLGG, @ROSTOCK PORT GmbH, OTC Ocean Technology Campus Rostock, IHK zu Rostock, @Hanse- und Universitätsstadt Rostock #SmileCityRostock and @Bürgerschaft of Rostock! His topics could not be more contemporary: #Digitalization and #Energy #Transition were the pillars, around which he discussed about sustainability and future plans. He found common ground and exchanged experiences on good and bad practices. #team #technology #sustainability #economics #future #energytranstition #energyefficiency #digitalization

The European Young Leaders represent an alternative infrastructure of leadership, a new generation of leaders able to inspire action and generate change. Their passion, their diversity of backgrounds and opinions, and their innovative thinking together create the right formula for generating fresh ideas to build a more forward-thinking Europe.

Our European leaders provide alternative perspectives from outside the institutional and political frameworks to EU decisionmakers writing the rule book.

The European Young Leaders also play the essential role of helping to reconnect people with and rebuild trust in politics by engaging a wider community around key EU policy issues that need a whole economy whole society approach to progress fast. They are scientists, artists, journalists, entrepreneurs, astronomers. They are citizens and their thinking is not bound by multilateral or frameworks, or burocracy.

They help take Europe out of Brussels, in their own countries and cities. They are facilitating citizens’ participation in the creation of a more equal, innovative and inclusive Europe and help build a European identity.

From champions of the arts and tech entrepreneurs, to leading activists and Olympic athletes, meet the new young leaders.

Nektarios is a Greek politician with a passion for good local governance. He currently serves as the President of the European Local Leaders, a committee of young European politicians that have been elected at the regional or local level. The initiative aims to promote creativity and share pioneering ideas among the new generation of locally elected officials throughout cities across Europe, with a focus on climate change, environmental protection, smart cities and new technologies. Nektarios is also the President of the Union of Young Local Councillors of Greece, which brings together newly elected regional and municipal councillors, governors, deputy mayors and mayors in Greece and organises events on the role of local governments in the development of smarter and greener cities.

“The strongest weapon of the European Union remains democracy, founded on basic principles and values including respect to the rule of law, freedom and solidarity.” Olgierd Geblewicz, President of the EPP Group in the European Committee of the Regions (EPP-CoR) made these remarks when addressing an EPP Local Dialogue with young local and regional elected representatives (YEPs) ahead of the Summit of Regions and Cities (2-4 March 2022) taking place in Marseille.

 Geblewicz, who is President of West Pomerania Region told YEPs that he got engaged in politics because as a young person he wanted to bring about change. “Looking back I see that important results have been achieved and I encourage you to get engaged and bring about change in your local communities”.

Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) told youths “Your generation, the young generation, has lived in a Union without wars and without walls. You are a generation that knows Europe as it is, but you must be eager to forge our Union as it should be: A Union which is less bureaucratic that focuses on the real needs of its citizens, with decisions taken as close as possible to the people and the places they live in. A resilient Europe forged with our values: Democracy, unity, solidarity, subsidiarity, rule of law.”

Strengthening European Democracy through youth engagement

Jelena Drenjanin, EPP-CoR 1st Vice-President who moderated the first panel said “The European Year for Youth is just a starting point. It’s an occasion that we cannot miss to foster civic engagement of young people in a broader way, leading to a change in the mind-set: young people are not only the future. They are first and foremost the present, and the moment has come to politics to respond to their calls.”

Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw said “The people of Ukraine are not only fighting for their security but they are also fighting for our democracy. This is why I encourage young politicians to get engaged and show solidarity.”

MEP Antonio López-Istúriz White, EPP Secretary General said that the concept of democracy has perhaps never been more important. “In this dark moment of our history, rights and freedoms are being restricted, war has been provoked on our continent and people are being used as pawns in the name of democracy.” He added that the future of Europe depends on how young people see and how close they feel towards the European Union.

Miroslav Behúl, Municipal Councillor of Bratislava-Petržalka (Slovakia) who co-created the Youth parliament of Bratislava-Petržalka which serves as an advisory and initiative body of the local council and mayor said “It is important to create possibilities for young people to engage in public affairs, such as youth parliaments and school councils. Such engagement of young people is the most effective way to deliver the experiences to young people and to strengthen European democracy.”

Francine Farrugia, Local Councillor of Siggiewi (Malta) expressed disappointment that the local level was experiencing centralization by the national government. “It is key to give local councils and young councillors room to work as the local level is the first voice of local communities and this leaves and impact on trust in politics.”

Sophia Kircher, Vice-President of the Tyrolean Parliament (Austria) said “The decisions we are making today do have a long-lasting impact on the future of the next generations and today’s youth. That is why it is necessary and important that young people are involved in the decision-making processes. This is the only way how generational equity in politics can work. Therefore, it is important and to establish youth councils in which young people can participate and work together on future projects, such as the EU-Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) Youth Council.”

Young local and regional politicians leading green and digital transformation on the ground

Ricardo Rio, Mayor of Braga who moderated the second panel said that making digitalisation work for everyone, and investing in green and sustainable projects means making citizens lives easier, and healthier as well as supporting small and medium businesses – the backbone of local economy and employment – by simplifying rules and reducing administrative burdens. Rio who served as the CoR Rapporteur on the SDGs said “Unfortunately, we can still see a widespread divide between rural and urban areas in terms of coverage of digital infrastructures, and the digitalisation of the interaction between public authorities and business is still insufficient.”

Martin Heinen, Chairman of the Garzweiler Landfolge (Germany) who is involved in restructuring the energy industry in a coal mining area said “A breakthrough into the future does not require two or three major projects, but the right form of ongoing dialogue between the authorities and the population. This is how progressive projects can be implemented at the right time and in the right place.”

Micael Lamego dos Santos, Municipal Councillor of Tabuaço (Portugal) who is involved in projects to reduce municipal waste “Young politicians are key to a successful transition to a clean and circular economy. Our dynamism and creativity must be to boost all environmental projects. We have to be capable to mix our proactive approach with the voice of experienced politicians and citizens.

Nektarios Kalantzis, Municipal Councillor of Pallini Municipality (Greece), President of the European Local Leaders said that the exchange of good practices between European regions and municipalities is more important today, as technology allows faster development of innovative practices and applications from one European city to another. “Europe’s young leaders should become stakeholders in changing Europe, in order to make our cities modern and innovative. Climate change, smart cities, artificial intelligence, should be the priority of the new generation of elected officials in Europe’s cities.”

Lídia Pereira, President of YEPP and MEP said “The green and digital transitions will bring many new opportunities. Young people must be the protagonists and also the main beneficiaries of this change we have ahead of us. Reconciling environmental sustainability and economic growth is possible and will create better jobs.”

Addressing the event was also Franck Proust, EPP Vice-President and President of Nîmes Métropole said that experience and the voice of youths are complimentary. He said “I have a message for YEPs. Do not be afraid, get engage, believe in yourselves, work together and with people who have experience and other youths to build the future of Europe and strengthen European democracy.”

In the concluding remarks, MEP Maria Walsh, said that the European Year of Youth 2022 is a year that honours and supports the generations that has sacrificed the most during the pandemic. The Youth of Europe. She stressed “This EU year ensures that we focus on giving a strong voice to our young people, when it comes to shaping policies. In the coming year it is essential that we listen, engage and collaborate with our young Europeans. It is simply not good enough if we transition from this pandemic and not have young voices at the decision making table.”

The event was presented by Chris Burns.

Ellgroup- Christmas Greetings from:

  • Tallinn: Laura Danilas, Municipal Councillor of Tartu Municipality, Estonia

  • Madrid: Elena Álvarez Brasero, Regional Deputy of the Community of Madrid, Spain

  • Ljubljana: Julija Humar, District Councillor of Ljubljana Municipality, Slovenia

  • Reykjavík: Alexandra Briem, President of Reykjavík City Council, Iceland

  • Vienna: Julia Heinrich, District Councillor (BezR) of Vienna Municipality, Austria

  • Rovaniemi: Susanna Junttila, Chair of Executive Board of Rovaniemi Municipality, Finland

Brussels November 1, 2021

Based on our common European origins and roots, the need for understanding between peoples and the need to exchange cultures, the cooperation between the young people of Europe, the so-called Next Generation EU, which will shape the next day in Europe, is more important than ever.

The creation of the Committee of Young Elected Europeans in Cities and Regions, known as European Local Leaders (ELL) is a first in Europe and is a European initiative, with elected young people from all over Europe.

In an effort to promote and contribute to a better future for local governance, we are creating the first European Council of Young Local Leaders (ELL) for young elected leaders in cities and regions across Europe, to discuss the problems of local governance in all parts of Europe, to propose solutions by sharing good practices and to give them the best possible tools and knowledge, helping them to become the young European leaders of tomorrow.

From today, hundreds of young people involved in local government in Europe – elected in cities and regions across Europe – will have the opportunity to come closer and understand  better the different cultures that make up Europe’s cultural unity.

The exchange of good practices between European regions and municipalities is more important today, as technology allows the faster development of innovative practices and applications from one European city to another.

Europe’s young leaders should become stakeholders in changing Europe, with the young generation ahead, ELL Under40, under the greatest pressure and called upon to carry the greatest burdens for the Europe of tomorrow, in order to make our cities modern and innovative.

Climate change, smart cities, the use of new technologies, robotics and artificial intelligence, urbanisation, in conjunction with environmental protection, as well as tackling social inequality, should be the priority of the new generation of elected officials in Europe’s cities, where sharing good practices and know-how from other cities is the only way to make our cities innovative and more creative.

Digital governance, e-government, e-services, cycling networks, electromobility, renewable energy and greenery are at the forefront, as our own European history, our human potential, our European heritage, demand that we lead the way to make Europe stronger and more powerful for tomorrow.

The Executive Committee of European Local Leaders (ELL) consists of 100 +1 members from more than 30 countries in Europe, with gender (women and men) represented on an equal basis and in equal numbers.

They are young mayors and young municipal and regional councillors up to 40 years old, from as far away as Rovaniemi in Lapland and Reykjavik to Athens and from the Atlantic coast in Portugal to Belfast, Dublin, the Baltic and the Carpathians.

For a strong and fair Europe!

For more information, visit our website: www.ellgroup.eu

 

The President,

Nektarios Kalantzis

 

Like every year, this year World Environment Day will be celebrated on Wednesday, June 5, 2021. Like the previous years, this year World Environment Day Theme 2021 is “Ecosystem restoration”. The theme is selected to create consciousness about resetting our relationship with nature. The United Nations Environment Program declared this theme the previous year.

Nature is sending us a clear message. We are harming the natural world – to our own detriment. To care for humanity, we must care for nature. We need our entire global community to change course.

It is time for all of us to think again what we buy and use. It is time to adopt sustainable habits, farming and business models, keep safe the wild spaces and wildlife and commit to a green and resilient future.

It is time to work together, it is time to put nature where It belongs-at the centre of our decision making. The role of our cities and regions is very important.

Urban areas occupy less than 1 per cent of the Earth’s land surface but house more than half of its people. Despite their steel and concrete, crowds and traffic, cities and towns are still ecosystems whose condition profoundly marks the quality of our lives. Functioning urban ecosystems help clean our air and water, cool urban heat islands, shield us from hazards and provide opportunities for rest and play. They can also host a surprising amount of biodiversity.

European Local Leaders created a video to pass the message across Europe. Our message for the World Environment Day is clear “It Is time for Nature, it is time for the future  ”.

If we are to safeguard the environment for future generations, we must take urgent action now to implement development policies, incentives and actions. It is through working together that we will succeed in delivering a sustainable, healthy, and prosperous future for all.

“IT IS TIME NATURE, IT IS TIME FOR THE FUTURE"

The ELL Team

So young, but so tired. European Union, an edifice of only 65 years old and yet so exhausted.
Europe was built on the foundations of peace, wellbeing and freedom among its member states.

However, the amount and complexity of the procedures which were adopted to implement the European integration, the so-called technical part, overlapped the European vision.

At the same time, for most of the member states their national interests were appeared to be stronger than the European regulations which they themselves had voted for.

Plenty of them were living beyond their means, ignoring for years the upcoming consequences. The human value and the human rights were constantly downgraded, and the European Institutions were proved incapable to deal with.

The European crisis was deteriorated during the last decade and BREXIT was the result. A shock we owe to consider very rigorously together with the European dilemma of stay or leave which exists in all member states.

However, against the great challenges we are facing, there is no doubt that Europe is our common future. Moreover, whatever keeps us together is stronger than what tears as apart.

Lessons should be learnt from the past; the European vision should be re- established. Planning should not be based on strict processes but on realistic policies which will not only regulate the markets, but will also enhance human value, entrepreneurial
freedom and social justice.

We are Europe, and we need to work hard for it.

Our common heritage lies at the heart of the European way of life. It is found in the villages and cities, in the natural landscapes and archeological sites. It is the literature, the art and the Monuments, the crafts we have inherited from our ancestors, the fairy tales we tell our children, the food that we enjoy and the films which we identify ourselves with. Cultural heritage defines who we are and strengthens the sense of belonging to a common European community. This is a peaceful community of more than 500 million people with a rich history and interconnected cultures.

As a representative of the local government authorities for the European cultural heritage, it is really an ambition of mine, for people to be encouraged, especially the children and young adults, to explore Europe’s rich and diverse cultural heritage and reflect on its place in our lives. By placing emphasis on this, we wish to better equip them to protect and preserve our cultural heritage in the future. 

This allows us to delve into our traditions, into our memories and the history of monuments of the past, from which a lot can be learned. It is my hope that by exploring and experiencing a common cultural heritage inside and outside the school learning environment, children and young adults will realize that their different identities, whether local, regional or national can complement, enrich and strengthen one another. They will realize that it is possible to coexist in the context of a common European identity. Diversity is our wealth and power.

According to a special Eurobarometer survey on the cultural heritage nine out of ten Europeans believe that cultural heritage of Europe should be taught in schools. Schools and educators play a key role in the achievement of this objective. 

Sparking a real change in the way we enjoy and defend our heritage and ensuring that it benefits the people in the long term is the key to building the best possible version of Europe.

There is a challenging agenda for Europe in the years to come which involves very serious issues. Decisions and policies required for a wide range of subjects such as economic growth and security or Europe’s role in the world, make it now more important than ever for citizens to engage in debates and contribute to the formation of policies. 

The volunteering activities of the local government authorities’ representatives is a vital part that promotes participation and active citizenship. Spending a lot of their time to benefit other citizens, the new local government authorities’ representatives contribute actively to their community and to society. They increase the sense of involvement in a community and develop the concept of shared responsibility. Therefore, their volunteering is a particularly powerful tool to public engagement to society and its political life. In order to develop and implement their activities, Civil Society organisations, associations of European general interest, twinning associations and other bodies find support on voluntary work. 

The EU aims to safeguard the common European cultural heritage and to support and promote Arts and creative sectors in Europe. Many cultural elements exist in a number of EU policies, such as in education, research, social policy, regional development and external relations. Every year, two cities are designated as European Capitals of Culture, an action that strengthens the local economy and promotes local artists along with the unique cultural richness of each city.

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