Why are younger people more open-minded

Youth, Society and Culture

"The future of Europe lies in the youth," emphasizes Lukas Stede (26) again and again and advocates this in all areas. Lukas has been living in Potsdam for some time, has completed a dual industrial engineering degree and is now deprived of his second degree in political science in Marburg. He is an open-minded young man from Northern Hesse who began early on to deal with the differences between urban and rural life for young people. The youth work - especially his involvement in rural youth - brought him to politics, whose models and theories he is now deepening in his studies in Marburg.

But that's not all, because Lukas has been a member of the Council of Europe's Youth Advisory Council for two months. In February 2021, he stepped in for his predecessor Sebastian Vogt. Both represent the German National Committee for International Youth Work there. In April he was also able to win the elections for the new mandate 2022-2023 in the European Youth Forum.

What is the Advisory Board on Youth Issues in the Council of Europe?

The Council of Europe is not an EU institution, but a European, international organization with 47 member states, including all EU countries. The main objective of the Council of Europe is to uphold human and civil rights and to protect democracy and the rule of law. Its seat is in Strasbourg. The Council of Europe also tries to act beyond its own borders. The core area is of course the member states themselves, but also the Mediterranean area. Not only are “official” citizens taken into account, but politics is also pursued, for example, to protect refugees from third countries.

The Advisory Council for Youth Issues, known internationally as the Advisory Council on Youth (AC), is a non-governmental advisory body made up of 30 young people from the member states of the Council of Europe. 20 of the members are elected at the general assembly of the European Youth Forum (European umbrella organization made up of international youth associations and national youth rings) and 10 more are appointed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe outside the Youth Forum in order to ensure the greatest possible diversity and good coverage of the priorities. Together they form the youth council for two years. This body has an equal status in the discussion with the government representatives who are organized in the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ). Both bodies together form the Joint Council on Youth. This is to ensure that young people have a meaningful voice in European politics.

Young people are often only heard in European politics when the politicians consider it appropriate, says Lukas. At the same time, young people have to live longest with the political decisions that are currently being made and face their consequences. In many debates it is therefore essential to give young people a voice and let them have a say in their future. The AC with its co-management structure proves that this is already possible today in an organization as complex as the Council of Europe, says Lukas.

The Joint Council on Youth is the only multilateral body in which government representatives and youth representatives discuss with each other on an equal footing, jointly develop demands and decide on recommendations for action based on them. The process for creating a recommendation for action from this committee is as follows:

  1. What do we want to demand? - Discussion in AC + exchange with youth organizations and civil society.
  2. Demands and suggestions are forwarded to the Joint Council on Youth and discussed there.
  3. A recommendation or a paper is developed and adopted together.

If both sub-bodies of the Joint Council agree, a recommendation for action can be forwarded to the Committee of Ministers. Lukas describes the work in these two bodies as respectful and interculturally valuable. It is referred to as a so-called co-management structure, as the young people and government representatives meet on an equal footing when voting for or against a legislative recommendation. So it shows an equal say.

In private life, younger people often come to a common denominator more quickly than government representatives, but that is probably due to the similar interests among young people, Lukas jokes.

In the Council of Europe's Youth Advisory Board, Lukas Stede can now contribute his diverse experiences from youth work on an equal footing with government representatives. Photo: Graeschke / BDL

What are Lukas' motivations and goals in politics?

Lukas emphasizes that as a “village child” you are often left out when it comes to public discourse, which is why he is happy today that he joined a youth organization at an early stage, through which he finally found his way into politics. He is happy about the chance the AC gives him. In this way he can contribute to the various portfolios (working groups in the AC). For example, he is the contact person for the Youth Work portfolio and a member of the Visibility & Communication and Co-operation with the Congress of local authorities portfolio. For the new mandate 2022-2023, Lukas is happy to support the new portfolio Young people in rural communities. “That is exactly my core topic,” says Lukas. “Young people from rural regions should also have a voice in politics, but above all also the power to have a say.” Of course, his focus on village life characterizes him himself, but he stands for the fact that all young people are more involved in decision-making processes should be, in the country as well as in the city.

The AC offers Lukas a valuable opportunity to have a say. With full commitment he continues to support his goals and visions for Europe. Above all, he would like civil society to have more co-determination rights and that young people should have a voice in many other places where politics are made and decisions are made. "A participatory Europe for everyone - also for young people" is very important to Lukas Stede and he will continue to campaign for this in his new term in the AC.