Youth Convention described as a "press gimmick"
The restricted time table of the Youth Convention is hindering fruitful discussions on the future of Europe, the participants attending the session in Brussels say.

Members of the Youth Convention expressed their disappointment at the bad organisation of the Convention and the lack of time available for a serious debate on important European matters. Most of them feel that the Youth Convention was set up just as a PR stunt, to give the impression that the ideas of the youths are being taken into account

Complaints about bad organisation
"I am really disappointed with the lack of time. The organisation is bad, things are moving too fast and I am afraid that we will not be taken very seriously. This just feels like a PR stunt," Anna Mikkola from Finland told EUobserver. Same feelings were shared by Irish John Friend-Pereira, who complained that the youths were given only three days to discuss an important issue such as the future of Europe. "The lack of time is adding to the confusion.

Lack of clarity on voting on the three working documents
The members of the Youth Convention were divided into three working groups - on EU missions, EU democracy and participation, and globalisation, where on Wednesday, discussions and amendments were put forward on the working paper compiled by the rapporteur. On Thursday, the respective working groups started voting on the amendments presented, as they thought that the final amended document would be then discussed in the plenary.

However, they were surprised to hear that after that they have been voting for the whole morning to amend the working paper, they were later told by the President Giacomo Filibeck that the amendments done in the working groups, will not be counted in the plenary, which means that voting on amendments will have to start from scratch. "We could have stayed in bed this morning," Anna Mikkola said.

Members unaware of the position of the different working groups
Another problem is that members in the working groups were not presented with the position papers of the other two working groups, although they would be voting up on these positions during the plenary. "Nobody had the time to read the document of everybody else," John Friend-Pereira told EUobserver. "That means that the opinion of the working groups, which were particularly interested in the topic of debate, will not be taken into account."

Friend-Pereira also complained about the lack of representation of the youth population within the Youth Convention. "The Convention failed to include non-governmental organisation and independent groups. Two thirds of the participants come mainly from three large organisations. The Convention could have been much more independent," he said.
Written by Sharon Spiteri
Edited by Daniela Spinant
Officials deplore the fact that the Youth Convention - gathering youths in Brussels to reflect on the future of Europe - is dominated by the Brussels based organisation, European Youth Forum, sources told EUobserver. Also members of the Youth Convention criticise the taking over of their Convention by the Youth Forum, which holds the presidency, controls the leading body, the Presidium, and the majority of Convention members. Critics claim the Youth Convention is like the European Convention, and no fresh input genuinely representing the European youth is to be expected.

"Politicians listen to politicians"
“If when hearing the civil society claim that "Brussels was listening to Brussels", as only Brussels-based lobbyists were invited; we could say now that "Politicians listen to Politicians," as the Youths behave like normal Convention members, and their Youth Convention is controlled by the Youth Forum,” an official told EUobserver. A Youth Convention member attacked his colleagues during the plenary session on Wednesday for talking like the real Convention members, behaving like politicians and accused them of not representing the European Youth.

Federalists are a majority
Moreover, young eurosceptic deplore that the federalists are a majority in the Youth Convention, as the Youth Forum holds generally federalist views. They told EUobserver that this factor will undermine the final outcome of the discussion, since the working documents which form the bases of discussions, have already a slanted viewpoint.

The elected rapporteurs for the working groups, Akos Komassy, Jan Kreutz and Leo Varadkar all come from organisations as members of the European Youth Forum. As rapporteurs they had the task of preparing the working document for the three themes chosen for the Youth Convention - on EU missions, EU democracy and participation, and globalisation. However, the limit time for discussions was only 3 hours on Wednesday. On Thursday, there will be only a final discussion and votes on the texts compiled by the rapporteurs.The final amended texts will be then presented to the EU Convention on Friday by the three elected rapporteurs.

"I am scared that the outcome will be misinterpreted because the members of the Presidium are connected with the European Youth Forum, or else they are socialists connected with the Youth Forum. I am also afraid that the proposal for amendments won't be taken into account," one of the participants told the EUobserver.

Unfairness in elections
One of the members of the Presidium, Anita Stefin, who is a bureau member of the European Youth Forum, managed to be elected on Tuesday evening despite not attending the session that day. At the opening session of the youth Convention on Tuesday, one of the youth convention members described the election as "undemocratic", saying that the Youth Forum could not possibly represent all the views of the young cizens.


The Youth Convention
- attack of the clones!

We, a number of members of the Youth Convention, feel cheated into participating in what was suppose to be an open and frank discussion on the future of Europe.

Instead, we have been listening to clones of the senior Convention. The Youth Convention has been no place for new or radical visions, only the controlled ideas of the Youth Forum and the European Movement.

Concern with vested interests

More than 50 members of the Youth Convention have signed a minority statement, stating that the gathering is not representative of the young people of Europe.

"The Youth Convention has been conducted in a manner that was unrepresentative, undemocratic and too concerned with vested interests and political fractions", says Sam Dobbyn, Great Britain, member of the Youth Convention.

Documents planned in advance

Almost all of the final documents have been planned in advance - and there has been absolutely no real debate. Instead, a bunch of you federalists are saying the same words over and over again:

"They speak openly about the European Superstate - this is not about democracy or freedom, but about colonisation of the Applicant Countries", says Silvan Mifsud from Malta.

Already well-educated politicians

An overwhelming majority of the members of the Praesidium of the Youth Convention is from the European Parliament´s delegation, and many of them are sponsored by the EU. Many members of the Youth Convention are already well-educated politicians, and it is difficult to come from civil society and participate in this clone circus:

"Everybody has focused on technical details - no visions and real debate that young people outside Brussels can understand", says Youth Convention member Vanessa Klötzer, representing TEAM member EU-critical Youth of Finland.

Sam Dobbyn, UK
Zuzana Figerová, Czech Republic
Vanessa Klötzer, Finland
Silvan Mifsud, Malta
Anna Mikkola, Finland