Europe needs you to take part - President Metsola with 10,000 young people at the EYE in Strasbourg 


Addressing a jam-packed chamber at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola opened the 2023 European Youth Event, hosting more than 10,000 young people. Replying to questions from the audience, Roberta Metsola said that Europe must reform and regenerate, and for that, young people should make their voice heard.

Good morning everyone.

Welcome to the European Parliament! and welcome to the opening of the European Youth Event 2023!

I am so happy to be with you here in the heart of European Democracy. Today, this House -- this chamber -- where decisions are made and legislation is voted upon, is being taken over by you, the young people of Europe. Whether you have travelled to be in Strasbourg, or whether you are following online, thank you for being here today.

Nous avons la chance de nous réunir aujourd’hui ici à Strasbourg, un symbole de la réconciliation européenne, de construction européenne.

Thank you for standing up for Europe. Thank you for pushing forward the ideals that Europe stands for. Thank you for fighting for the Europe you want to see.

This is your Europe. And we need to be honest about what we want to see. We need to be honest about where we’ve not done enough. We need to be honest when we think that some things are too frustrating and take too much time. We need to be honest also about our achievements, and here there have been a few.

Over the past years, we have experienced a global pandemic, war on our continent, an energy crisis, inflation, and cyberwarfare. All while the clock of a climate emergency keeps on ticking.

I am proud of how our European Union has delivered.  We have come together in defence of our values and for our way of life. We have created jobs. We have stood firm when freedom and justice have been threatened in the most brutal of ways. That is the Europe my generation was promised. I’ve spent hours and days in this room before becoming a Member of the European Parliament doing exactly what you are going to be doing in the next few days. That is the Europe that we must now deliver to the next generation.

That is not to say that the European Union is perfect, far from it. It is evolving and we need to have the courage to make sure that it evolves, that it is remains fit for purpose.  

The world is changing and we must be ready to change with it. We need reform. We must keep listening, keep explaining and keep delivering. We cannot be afraid of change.

For that, Europe needs you to take part. To not retreat to the comfort of easy cynicism or indifference. To recapture the sense of hope and possibility that the European Union offers.

And that is precisely what the EYE is. It is the European Parliament’s flagship event. You cannot imagine how excited we are, how excited my colleagues are who are here, how we look forward to this event as one where you come and hold us accountable. Tell us what you like. More importantly, tell us what you don’t like.

Over the next days, 10,000 young people will gather in the European Parliament and in the EYE Village next door to discuss and shape the Europe you want to see. And it won’t stop there, the ideas and the discussions that you will collect in the Youth Ideas report that will be shared with Members of the European Parliament and presented to them at the EYE Hearing this Autumn.

So my appeal to you is to take advantage of this opportunity - to discuss, to listen, to exchange, to network, to learn. To meet new people. Don’t only talk to guys you travelled with. Don’t only talk to the people in the language that you are most comfortable in. It is the friends you will make here, you will carry with you forever.

Members of the European Parliament, colleagues of mine, I have known some for 20 years because we were involved in youth politics together. We loved Europe and we knew that Europe stands as that beacon of hope, vision and understanding, and tolerance and protection. That is what Europe continues to stand for today.

That is what we need to fight for everyday, so that then you can take this experience back home with you. Then you will stop and think: what can I do next? Can I be a candidate? Will I vote? I hope your answer is a resinant yes. Look around you. Do you friends vote? Do your families vote?

In one year from now, we will be voting for the new European Parliament. It is the European Parliament that needs to continue to deliver. And it can only continue to deliver if it works for the European project, if it continues to be a home for everyone, if it continues to be a place where everyone can benefit, where everyone can feel that they are part of the decision.

So you are the ones that this weekend have the ability to trace the trajectory of the future of Europe. You are my voice, my colleague’s voice, every citizen of Europe’s voice.

Have fun, be open, discuss, ask questions, and take a little bit of Strasbourg and Europe home with you and grow it wherever you go back to.

Thank you.