Not a trace of disenchantment with politics: On Monday, the 13th of February, active youths met with politicians of all factions at the State Parliament in Dusseldorf. The goal of the youth conference taking place as part of the “Pimp my Europe” project: Young people, active in local youth centres, develop perspectives for a Europe they wish for, together with the responsible parties in politics. The youths prepared for their meeting with politicians on three days, with democracy simulation games, workshops, and even a course in rhetorics. Clearly, if you want to discuss with professional politicians at eye level, you don’t treat it lightly.
Carina Gödecke, President of the State Parliament welcomed the youths at the State Parliament. She was happy to have taken on the official patronage of the event. “After all, there is nothing more important than young people dealing with the question of how valuable the attainments of the European Union are for their lives and those of the following generations, and thus how much these attainments need to be protected.” The President of the State Parliament encouraged the youths to continue actively supporting the European idea. “It is young people like you that count.” “In the beginning, all of us were a bit nervous”, says Jess Opitz, participating in the conference with the Cologne group of the youth network ROOTS & ROUTES. “But this soon vanished, as I realised how openly the politicians are talking to us. I am primarily interested in environmental topics – that is how we can pass on to our children a world worth living in.”
“Pimp my Europe” is a project of the International Association for Education and Exchange (IBB e.V.) from Dortmund. Beefing up Europe and bringing it back on track – that is roughly what the project name means. “Given Europe skeptics, Brexit, and strengthened right-wing populism, we realise that is an ambitious goal”, says Matthias C. Tümpel, Chairman of the Board of IBB e.V. “But I am glad that, with this project, we are able to contribute towards inspiring youths for participation.”