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Commissioner Cresson meets young Europeans to discuss the future of Community programmes

One hundred young Europeans who have participated in Community programmes in the fields of education, youth and science have been invited to a forum in Brussels on 7 and 8 October 1997. The event has been organized on the initiative of Commissioner Edith Cresson, responsible f...
One hundred young Europeans who have participated in Community programmes in the fields of education, youth and science have been invited to a forum in Brussels on 7 and 8 October 1997. The event has been organized on the initiative of Commissioner Edith Cresson, responsible for research, innovation, education, training and youth, in order to hear the views of the young participants on the next generation of EU programmes in these fields.

Mrs. Cresson explained, "We want to listen to the views of young Europeans, and involve them in the preparation of the next generation of Community programmes." The 100 participants will take part in workshops focused on the different programmes in which they participated. Following this, on the afternoon of 8 October, the Commissioner will participate in an open session with the group. During this session, they will talk with Mrs. Cresson, outlining their experiences, their ideas and their opinions.

In total, over 300,000 young Europeans participate each year in a range of Community programmes in the fields of education, training, youth and science/research. The forum will bring together young people aged between 18 and 28 - from a wide range of backgrounds, and from all Member States (and beyond) - who have each participated in one of these programmes. The current set of programmes are due to finish in the next year or two, and the Commission is already preparing their successors. As part of this process, the Commissioner wishes to hear both the experiences of young participants in the current programmes, and their views and ideas for future programmes. "These programmes concern them directly," she said, "and the Commission must listen to their views."

A preparatory survey of the 100 participants found that 82% of them felt they had achieved their objectives during their involvement in Community programmes, and 83% considered their European experience would be an asset to their future career. Notwithstanding the generally positive message of the survey, the meeting in Brussels is designed to elicit in depth observations and reflections from the participants. It will give the Commission valuable information on successful activities, as well as helping it to learn more of the demands and needs of young people, and hear their suggestions for improvements. In designing the next set of programmes, the Commission will therefore be able to respond better to the expectations of future generations.

The SOCRATES programme allows some 170,000 students in secondary and higher education to spend a period studying abroad each year. Also part of SOCRATES, LINGUA, supports language learning for around 80,000 young people each year. And, in the field of vocational training and apprenticeships, some 50,000 benefit every year under the LEONARDO DA VINCI programme. Outside formal education, the "Youth for Europe" programme supports a wide variety of projects which allow young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to participate in activities outside their own country. The European Voluntary Service, launched as a pilot action in 1997, allows young people to participate in activities benefiting society in countries other than their own.

Every year, several thousand young scientists benefit from Marie Curie grants to conduct research in laboratories in other European countries, within the Training and Mobility of Researchers (TMR) programme. The Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Commission's own research facility, which comprises seven separate research institutes, hosts around 150 of these grant-holders each year, often allowing them to complete work on their doctorates.

One of the fundamentals of EU programmes in the fields of education, youth and science is to encourage the movement of young people throughout the EU - through studying or carrying out research in another European country, gaining work experience in a European company, or participating in voluntary work in another country. Through the programmes, young people will have better access to training and employment, by participating in the construction of a Europe of knowledge, solidarity and citizenship.

Here, some of the participants comment on their experiences....

"Spending time abroad improves your education and personal experience... and makes you more open-minded".

"I met young people from other countries and saw how they live and study."

"My experience will have a positive impact when looking for work. I feel privileged to have had this type of experience."

"Prospective employers were impressed that I'd been abroad to work."

"Opportunities for participation in Community programmes for young people must be extended, since it is a unique experience and has a major impact."

"I have continued working on youth exchanges, as I have become convinced of the importance of being able to meet other young Europeans."

"We have always had the impression that Europe is far away from England, but after our exchange in France we realised how much we have in common."

"These exchanges really give the impression that we belong to the same big community, although I want to improve my knowledge of our distinctions."

"Being a TEMPUS student helps to create another small link between the Central and Eastern European countries and the EU."....."It means having the curiosity to go to another country to learn..."

Source: European Commission, Joint Research Centre

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