In order to encourage young people to Active Citizenship participation, Europe House, in cooperation of Europe Direct SB, has organized the Youth Parliament of the City of Slavonski Brod session. The session was held on March 19 starting at 11.00 am, in the premises of the Youth Center and was attended by representatives of the Youth Parliament of Slavonski Brod and guests – members of the Youth Council of BPŽ, the Youth Council of Slavonski Brod, the Student Council of Brod-Posavina County, civil society institutions and organizations working with young people and other interested young people.
The session of the Youth Parliament of Slavonski Brod discussed the civil protection system, responsible behavior in crisis situations, protection of human rights, and
Maja Kuzmić from Europe House Slavonski Brod presented projects Counter Euroscepticism with Your Vote and possibilities for involovment of (young) citizens.
Stjepan Bošnjaković, Deputy Prefect of Brod-Posavina County and Chief of the Civil Protection Headquarters of Brod-Posavina County, spoke to the gathered young people about the civil protection system in crisis situations and encouraged them to behave responsibly.
Nataša Kovačević from the Information and Legal Center Slavonski Brod (Informativno-pravni centar – IPC) – introduced young people to human rights during various crises and warned about the problem of restricting and violating human rights during crisis situations.
Mirjana Matanović, director of the Red Cross Slavonski Brod, emphasized the importance of universal values humanity and solidarity that must be nurtured and encouraged to overcome the crisis in which we find ourselves.
Florijan Galić, representative of the Youth Council of Brod-Posavina County spoke about the right of young people to objective, timely and applied information in crisis situation.
Božica Sedlić on behalf of Europe House Slavonski Brod spoke about one of the EC’s priorities for 2021 – New Push for European Democracy and presented the basic characteristics of active citizenship; experiences and methods by which the level of active participation of citizens in all democratic processes can be increased.
Maja Kuzmić from Europe House Slavonski Brod presented projects in which the Europe House Slavonski Brod participates: Youth Power, Connectivity and GO PRO in order to involve youth in their implementation on local, national or international level.
After presentations, organized a two workshops for members of the Youth Parliament of the City of Slavonski Brod and others participants. The first Active EU was in debate format, and in second participants were divided into working groups, to hold European week activities in May 2021. The group leaders were: Andrea Lemajić and Leon Ferić.
Gathered young people were informed about the importance of humanity and solidarity, especially in times of crisis, about the importance of temporary measures, but also about the importance of their short duration and the preservation of human rights in crisis situations. Young people were encouraged to take an active part in their community.
Minutes of Active EU, held on March 19th 2021, Slavonski Brod, Hrvatska
The European House Slavonski Brod, in the framework of the Euroscepticism with You vote counter project, organized a session of the Youth Parliament of the city Slavonski Brod called Active EU, in order to inform young people about the need for their greater involvement in building a future Europe, the importance of promoting and protecting human rights, especially in crisis situations such as the Coronavirus pandemic.
The event was organized in two parts. The lecture type was part one, while the other part was consisted of two workshops. The first one was entitled Active EU, and the second workshop concerned the development of an activity plan to be implemented during the European week (May 3 rd-9 th).
Maja Kuzmic used the introductory lecture to present the Counter Euroscepticism With Your Vote and introduce participants in the subject – the importance of a stronger role of European citizens in democratic decision-making processes at all levels. She explained that the project Counter Euroscepticism With Your Vote was launched with a purpose to encourage EU citizens to make their voice count, to build the capacity of young people to participate actively in the democratic life of Europe, to counter Euroscepticism with EU dialogue and discussion on forward-looking initiatives for the future of Europe and to educate young people about EU values and history of EU. “The rising Euroscepticism and distrust of national governance structures demotivate people to participate in the voting process. That was the reason to include countries which had the lowest voter turnout and rise of Euroscepticism at last election period – Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Austria”, she said. She also presented main international activities and timetable of their implementation.
Maja Kuzmić pointed out: “A series of conferences on the future of Europe will be held soon, starting in 2021 and lasting two years. The conference will offer a platform on which citizens could express their main concerns. The platform will start operating on April 11 th, as announced. Continuing this, EU institutions and civil society representatives will work together to find the best solutions to these problems. Discussions on the future of Europe will introduce new, necessary innovative approaches to democratic engagement at EU level, so that everyone is more actively involved in debating Europe and building its future.”
Božica Sedlić also spoke about the importance of youth participation in all decision-making processes. She recalled the importance of the activities of the Youth Parliament of the city Slavonski Brod, founded back in 2001, especially in times of crisis: “The sequence of potentially difficult circumstances in which young people are, or are yet to find themselves, it is important to bear in mind that crises carry with them the potential for positive social changes, something that younger generations can greatly contribute – from fostering solidarity and humanity in society to launching local initiatives and making innovative business ideas,” said B. Sedlic, recalling, “in order to know what they want to focus on, how to adapt, what areas in personal life and in the community want to strengthen, it is important that young people are objectively informed and self-aware.”
After that B. Sedlić presented A new push for European democracy – a new EC priority which consists several measures which are upholding a strong and vibrant democracy in Europe, stronger interinstitutional cooperation and a more transparent one, most importantly, inclusive decision-making process, focused on the needs of European citizens, involving a number of key challenges. Equality is one of the core values on which the European Union is founded, reflected in the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which enshrines all the personal, civic, political, economic and social rights enjoyed by all people living in the EU. In speech, Božica Sedlić addressed that equality, in all of its senses, will be one of the major priorities of European Commission which will put forward new anti-discrimination legislation to ensure equal opportunities for all. “The new equality portfolio created for the Commission’s 2019-2024 term has a broad focus on tackling discrimination, promoting inclusion and equal opportunities and raising awareness of the rights that exist under EU law. The Commission’s 2021 work program announced several new EU strategies in this area, on gender equality, LGBTI equality, Roma equality and inclusion, victims’ rights and implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights”, Božica Sedlić informed.
Stjepan Bošnjaković, Deputy County Prefect and Chief of Civil Protection, spoke about the civil protection system in crisis situations: “For more than a year the entire world has been exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of protecting the lives and health of citizens and preventing the spread of infection has been imposed as the highest priority of all governments in the conditions of the pandemic. In accordance with this objective, numerous measures were adopted, which should have primarily reduced the possibility of spreading infection among the population, given the restrictive character of the measures and the fact that they restrict certain rights and freedoms of citizens to a lesser or greater extent. The intention of our headquarters is to preserve health and as much as possible protect citizens’ rights to work, education, movement and socializing as much as the circumstances allow it.”
Nataša Kovaćević from the Information and Legal Center stressed that we are holding a discussion at the moment of the Coronavirus pandemic whose influence on human rights is already unprecedented, and that it will have numerous consequences on the realization of political, social, economic and cultural rights in the world, including in Croatia: “We are witnessing great challenges in realization of human rights of the most vulnerable and marginalized social groups and individuals. It was expected that the pandemic will cause stagnation in the areas of human rights and that there will be regression in the realization of human rights in the areas of protection of the most vulnerable: access to health, especially of the elderly and those living in rural areas, rights of persons with disabilities, rights of children, but also of workers’ rights, freedom of movement, access to community services, distribution of food and medicines. “ She emphasized that in times of crisis at different levels of the educational system, solutions to systemic problems have to be sought – so in pre-school education it is necessary to include children at risk, who do not attend kindergartens for different reasons. In the preschool system, there was no support from the state and founders to perform online education during kindergarten closing. Basic schools showed that there were great differences in material conditions of distance teaching, and it was shown that due to the lack of material conditions, basic conditions for learning from home, support and lack of information knowledge, distance teaching was difficult or impossible for certain vulnerable groups in society – children belonging to national minorities, children at risk of poverty, children refugees. As for higher education, it is assumed that several students and students dropped out of the system during the pandemic. “All of the above demands strategic and long-term planning to address the consequences of the pandemic to the right to education, to place a quality, equally affordable education high on the agenda of political priorities,” she concluded.
Mirjana Matanović, the president of the Red Cross town Society, presented the values the RC cherishes – solidarity, humanity, unification, volunteering, to the youth and invited them to participate in the actions they implement. She said, “Sometimes it is necessary to limit certain rights – but only temporarily. Likewise, it is necessary that all citizens, even the youngest ones, have the right to be informed and then participate in the creation of certain measures and decisions and accordingly act in their communities and beyond.”
Florijan Galić, the representative of the Youth Advisory Council of Brod-Posavina County said: “One of the basic rights is the right to receive objective and timely information. It is necessary to provide information and communication through digital technology, to which not all persons have access for socio-economical or other reasons, and which is increasingly important for information and daily communication and can sooth the consequences of isolation. ‘ Then presented all digital tools intended for young people.
Before the breake, Maja Kuzmic presented the projects of the European House Slavonski Brod, which strengthens young people for more active participation in society, developing a better career path and gaining experience in cooperation with young people from other European environments. She briefly presented the Connectivity and Power ON projects and invited participanst to join, give their contribution, exchange experiences and eventually be in gain because they are part of Erasmus.
After the break, two workshops were held.
During the workshop “Active EU” we used a debate format. Participants were given space to express their opinion, actively state their doubts on the EU and it’s future. Some of them presented examples of good practice, outlined the benefits of EU policies, funded projects and main achievements in their school environment and school neighborhood. Individual opinions of the youth on how policy agendas are and should be implemented within the EU political framework were heard. They concluded with the aspiration to be more active in their working /schooling places in order to be more effective on dealing with euroscepticism. They promised: “Awareness will be raised in our schools, neighborhoods, local community about the importance of (youth) active participation in building common European future.”
During the second workshop, the participants agreed on a programme of activities for the month of May that they will spend in a real time and place, if the provided epidemiological conditions allow it. They agreed to carry out a larger number of activities during the European week, set the coordinators, contact persons, the time spent and the means needed to carry out their activities and the deadlines for submitting reports.
Finally, Leon Ferić, on behalf of THE PMSB, urged all members of the Youth Parliament of Slavonski Brod to 23 rd and 24 th March. In 2021, they participate in the large international “Day of Democracy” event, organized by TREND-PRIMA, where representatives of partner organizations and experts will discuss youth activism and the democratic climate in Europe. “Partner organizations will present best practices, research, analysis of positive/negative trends in democratic processes in their countries and exchange precious experiences in order to encourage young people to become more actively involved in democratic decision-making processes at all levels,” Ferić concluded.