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Citizen Engagement in Response to the Floods of July 2021 in Belgium

The Y.civic project of the “Europe for Citizens” programme has enabled the organisation of a day of solidarity action on 17 January. In collaboration with the Red Cross, Bonnevie and ESOPE, two socio-professional integration centers affiliated to UNESSA, will bring together nearly thirty trainees to help the victims of the bad weather that occurred in July 2021. Follow our young citizens on this day on Facebook and Instagram [Y.civic].

Photo by Son Tung Tran from www.pexels.com

What happened during July 2021 in Belgium?

During the month of July 2021, catastrophic and deadly bad weather hit Belgium. Floods hit part of Wallonia, the German-speaking Community and Flanders. The material damage was considerable and many people died or went missing. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that “the floods could be the most catastrophic our country has ever experienced.”[1]

Naturally, in the face of this disaster, a surge of local, national and European solidarity has manifested itself. First of all among the inhabitants, there was a lot of mutual aid and the hope of winning this battle against water[2]. The inhabitants directly put their hands in the dough in order to save what could be saved. Belgians mobilized, Facebook groups were created and emergency centers took care of “gathering the material deposited by some spared inhabitants”[3]. At the national level, emergency financial support plans have been released by the Walloon[4] and federal[5] governments.

EU aid: calling for European solidarity

At the European level, in July, Minister Annelies Verlinden first appealed to the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism. This mechanism makes it possible “to call on other Member States for specific support needs, in particular in terms of equipment and personnel. It also makes it possible to mobilise the European Civil Protection Support Team, through which Belgium can obtain additional equipment and rescue workers”[6]. Germany, France, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Netherlands were present. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen paid tribute to the victims and pledged help from the EU. In October 2021, the government appealed to the European Union Solidarity Fund to release a maximum amount of €185 million[7]. The European Commission’s response is expected to arrive at the beginning of 2022.

Red Cross intervention and citizen mobilization

In addition to institutional support, Belgian civil society has organized itself and shown a lot of solidarity. The Belgian Red Cross has collected more than €40 million in donations[8] to help those affected. The NGO has established an action plan between October 2021 and April 2022. Its actions are varied: food aid, psychosocial support, various material aids as well as accommodation centers[9]. It is therefore in the continuity of a European project on citizen engagement that the young people of the PSI centres have decided to act and take part in the citizen solidarity in place in Verviers.

Project and Action Y.civic

Y.Civic aims to contribute to an understanding of the EU, its history and diversity and to encourage the active citizenship of young people. This project  is developed within the framework of the “Europe for Citizens” Programme of the European Union. Started in 2020, it will end at the end of 2022. Throughout the project, 7 seminars and numerous activities will be organised across Europe.

As part of the first Y.civic transnational seminar on climate and the environment, young people expressed their desire to take action. After many discussions, a solidarity action towards the victims of the bad weather that occurred in the summer of 2021 was organized. A group of young trainees from the Bonnevie Training Centre in Brussels will meet with trainees from the ESOPE Training Centre to lend a hand to the Red Cross in Verviers, in the province of Liège. On January 17, these young citizens will bring support and comfort to the victims of the City of Verviers.

Video #2 climate and environment

Watch the video of the first transnational seminar! The agenda of the day: presentations, intervention of Adélaïde Charlier, co-founder of the Youth For Climate movement, workshops, debates, animations. A day full of meetings and exchanges. With the participation of: AFEV, BARKA, Bleu Blanc Zebre, Bonnevie training center, Citizens CampusCivitasAssociazione Cuore Che Vede, JST, UNESSA, IDée53, Esope, CECProVocatie and Femmes actives. Our thanks to the participants and speakers: Adélaïde Charlier, Nasser, Jadwiga, Damian, Piotr and Anne-sophie.

Video production: MyPixHell http://www.mypixhell.com

On the 15 of October, UNESSA held the first transnational seminar of the Y.civic project in the training center Bonnevie. The main topic was “Climate and Environment”. This project, co-funded by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union, brang together 113 persons from 7 different countries: Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Germany, Latvia and Romania. 

Conference on the Future of Europe

What is the Conference on the Future of Europe?

The conference on the future of europe is a unique and timely opportunity for european citizens to debate on europe’s challenges and priorities. No matter where you are from or what you do, this is the place to think about what future you want for the european union.

The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission have committed to listen to Europeans and to follow up, within their sphere of competences, on the recommendations made. 

By spring 2022, the Conference is expected to reach conclusions and provide guidance on the future of Europe.

Who can take part?

European citizens, from all walks of life and corners of the Union, with young people playing a central role in shaping the future of the European project. 

European, national, regional and local authorities, as well as civil society and other organisations who want to organise events and contribute ideas.

All participants shall respect the values established in our Charter of Principles

Which are the components of the Conference?

  • Multilingual digital platform – will be the place for citizens to share ideas and send online submissions. They will be collected, analysed, monitored and published throughout the Conference;
  • Decentralised events – online, in-person* and hybrid events held by people and organisations as well as national, regional and local authorities across Europe;
  • European Citizens’ Panels – will discuss different topics and put forward their proposals; they will be representative in terms of geographic origin, gender, age, socioeconomic background and/or level of education;
  • Conference Plenaries – will ensure that the recommendations from the national and European citizens’ panels, grouped by themes, are debated without a predetermined outcome and without limiting the scope to pre-defined policy areas. The Conference Plenary will be composed of representatives from the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission, as well as representatives from all national Parliaments, on an equal footing and citizens. The Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee, the social partners, and civil society will also be represented. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will be associated when the international role of the EU is discussed. Representatives of key stakeholders may be invited. The Executive Board will draw and publish the conclusions of the Conference Plenary.

What is the role of this digital platform?

The digital platform is the hub of the Conference: it is your way to get involved and speak up at the Conference. Here you can share your thoughts on Europe and the changes which need to happen, see what others have to say, find events near you, organise your own event and follow the progress and the outcome of the Conference.  

How do you have your say? 

Simply choose from the comprehensive range of topics and let the Conference know your opinion. Your ideas will be collected, analysed, monitored and published on the platform, throughout the Conference. They will then feed into the discussions taking place in the European citizens’ Panels and the Plenaries. A feedback mechanism will ensure that the ideas expressed during the Conference events result in concrete recommendations for EU action. The final outcome of the Conference will be presented in a report to the Joint Presidency. The three Institutions will examine swiftly how to follow up effectively to this report, each within their own sphere of competences and in accordance with the Treaties.

Who is leading the Conference?

The Conference is placed under the authority of the three institutions, represented by the President of the European Parliament, the President of the Council and the President of the European Commission, acting as its Joint Presidency.

The Joint Presidency is supported by an Executive Board, which is co-chaired by the three institutions (Mr Guy Verhofstadt, Member of the European Parliament, Mr Gašper Dovžan, State Secretary for EU Affairs for the Slovenian Council Presidency** and Ms Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Democracy and Demography). It reports on a regular basis to the Joint Presidency. The Executive Board is responsible for taking decisions by consensus regarding the works of the Conference, its processes and events, overseeing the Conference as it progresses, and preparing the meetings of the Conference Plenary, including citizens’ input and their follow up.

Common Secretariat, of limited size and made up of officials representing the three institutions equally, assists the work of the Executive Board.

The Conference on the Future of Europe is nothing without you and your involvement on this platform. The future is in your hands.

Make your voice heard.

Related documents

Joint Declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe

Rules of Procedure of the Conference on the Future of Europe

Process of the Conference on the Future of Europe

Timeline of the Conference on the Future of Europe

The Schuman Declaration – 9 May 1950

EU treaties

*Depending on the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic and in compliance with any related restrictions.

**The next Council Presidency (France) will take over from the Slovenian Presidency as co-chair of the Executive Board.

Transnational seminar – Climate and environment [Documents + Photos]

On October 15 UNESSA organized the first transnational seminar of the Y.civic project in Bonnevie training center about “Climate and environment”. This project, co-funded by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union, brang together 113 persons from 7 different countries : Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Germany, Latvia and Romania.

Productions

Opening seminar [Documents + Photos]

On October 14, UNESSA organized the Y.civic opening seminar at the Bonnevie Training Center. This project, co-funded by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union, brang together 75 persons from 7 differents countries : Belgium, France, Italy, Poland, Germany, Latvia and Romania.

Productions

DiscoverEU

Are you 18 years old and a citizen of the European Union? Get ready to explore Europe! DiscoverEU is proud to be part of the European Year of Rail 2021.

What is DiscoverEU?

DiscoverEU is an initiative of the European Union that gives you the opportunity to discover Europe through learning experiences. Travelling predominantly by rail (there are exceptions to allow those living on islands or in remote areas), you will discover Europe’s stunning landscapes and its variety of cities and towns. You can apply during the two application rounds which take place each year. Successful applicants are awarded with a travel pass.

As an 18-year-old citizen of the European Union, DiscoverEU offers you the opportunity to participate in a travel experience that will enable you to take advantage of the freedom of movement throughout the European Union, explore the diversity of Europe, learn about European cultural heritage and history, and connect with people from all over the continent. Furthermore, DiscoverEU enables you, as a young person, to develop life skills of value to your future, such as independence, confidence, and openness to other cultures.  

Exceptionally for this round, those young people, who were eligible under the two rounds in 2020, which were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can apply too.

/!\ Another exception for this round: UK nationals are still allowed to participate in this round of DiscoverEU. For more details, check our FAQ A.12.

When is the next round?

Almost 70 000 young people have been awarded a travel pass since the first application round in June 2018. Another round will take place between Tuesday 12 October 2021 at 12:00 (CEST) and Tuesday 26 October 2021 at 12:00 (CEST). An ‘Apply Now’ button will appear on this page on D-Day! 

To be eligible, you need to:

  • Have been born between 1 July 2001 (included) and 31 December 2003 (included);
  • Have the nationality of one of the Member States of the European Union at the time of the award decision;
  • Complete the correct ID or passport number on the online application form.

Then you will need to participate in a quiz (unless you apply as a group member).

If you are selected, you can travel for a period of minimum 1 day and up to 30 days between 1 March 2022 and 28 February 2023. 

Note that if you have a disability or a health problem that makes your trip challenging, you will receive assistance and support to help you take part in DiscoverEU. Check our FAQ C.13 to know more.

Can I travel with my friends?

Yes you can! It really is up to you. You can go solo or add up to 4 friends in your group provided they meet the eligibility conditions above. They will use your application code to submit their own application. Check out our FAQs B.5 to B.11 to know more.

You can also organise meet-ups and combine travel plans with other DiscoverEU travellers! The DiscoverEU Facebook Group is a good platform to do this. Join the Group now to chat with other participants.