Portrait of President Sassoli

"Supporting democracy and democratic values is one of the key principles of the European Union. The European Parliament's Young Political Leaders programme goes beyond the EU borders by reaching out to the future leaders who are committed to a positive change and building long-lasting peace and stability."

David Maria Sassoli
President of the European Parliament
Photo of Co-Chairs
"We are pleased to welcome you to the website of the European Parliament's Young Political Leaders programme, launched and supported by the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group, which we have the honour of Co-Chairing during this Parliamentary term.  The YPL programme is a flagship initiative of the European Parliament designed to promote dialogue and understanding as a means to contribute to longer-term peace and trust amongst future leaders outside the EU. We believe this is an exciting and complementary initiative, alongside the EU's overall efforts, to support young leaders committed to achieving a more peaceful future."

David McAllister & Tomas Tobé
AFET & DEVE Committee Chairs

At a glance

The European Parliament's Young Political Leaders Programme acknowledges the importance of building dialogue between future political leaders in order to develop a climate of trust and confidence that will ultimately lead to a more peaceful world.

By connecting young political activists from non-EU countries with one another and with their counterparts in the European Parliament, experiences of peace and democracy can be shared and further developed.

latest news - Online Dialogue on 'Youth perspectives in building trust in the media, through intercultural dialogue'

7 July 2020

On 7 July 2020, two Western Balkans alumni from the European Parliament's Young Political Leaders programme participated in an online dialogue on "Youth perspectives in building trust in the media, through intercultural dialogue". The dialogue involved high-level guests, including Christian Danielsson, the European Commission's Director-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, and MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk, standing rapporteur on North Macedonia and Vice Chair of the delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee.

This dialogue was part of a series of online debates organised jointly by the European Parliament's Young Political Leaders programme with the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) with the aim of setting-up an inter-active policy dialogue with high-level EU representatives.

Young people put forward their views on the state of freedom of expression and media freedom in the Euro-Med and Western Balkans regions. It also gave them an opportunity to put forward their recommendations to support further the independence, protection and economic sustainability of a vibrant media, as well as to foster reconciliation and facilitate intercultural dialogue, which are essential to the development of democracy in these two regions.

Christian Danielsson started the discussion asking the youth for their assessment of the changing trends in media consumption, notably the decreasing influence of traditional media over social media platforms, and the need to address issues of media and digital literacy, fact checking and accountability. This is particularly important in an era where disinformation is considered a new challenge in the media and to democratic development.

MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk stressed the importance of protecting and safeguarding fundamental rights, such as media freedom. He underlined that the use of information and communication is essential to healthy pluralistic democracies as well as to ensuring mutual understanding among peoples and between cultures. He said this was particularly important in the Western Balkans region where disinformation and a lack of access to the media is affecting political plurality and hindering the access by citizens to information on different political perspectives.

The participants all recognised the challenge of disinformation and shrinking independent media space. They stressed the importance of media, and social media in particular, but highlighted the crucial need for fact checking, accountability and education. They suggested a number of concrete recommendations, including the creation of platforms for discussions between youth, media and parliaments to bridge the gap and contribute to the creation of trustful policies that are youth-oriented and respond to the needs of young people. The EP's Young Political Leaders programme was highlighted as a key means for the European Parliament to support address this challenge for young people, with the regional YPL event "Bridging the Gap" in Skopje in 2018 underlined.

The Young Political Leaders programme will follow upon these recommendations and continue engaging further with young people, notably in the Western Balkans. Especially as most of the parliaments in the region have young members of Parliament that could facilitate the setting up of a sustainable dialogue among youth on national but also on regional level, and foster mutual understanding and a broader attachment to the European values, including media freedom.

Online Dialogue on 'Impact of Covid-19 on youth policies and institutions'

16 June 2020

On 16 June 2020, alumni from the European Parliament's Young Political Leaders programme participated in an online dialogue on "The impact of COVID-19 on youth policies and institutions" with the High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell and the European Parliament's lead-MEP for the Young Political Leaders programme, VicePresident Fabio Castaldo.

In these times of major global crisis, with countries focussed largely on internal concerns, lock-down and social distancing, it is key to continue engaging with youth and (virtually) break the isolation in order to show our support and solidarity with young people as active drivers of change.

In this context, the European Parliament's Young Political Leaders programme has engaged in a series of online debates in partnership with the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF). The aim of these online dialogues is to bring together our Young Political Leaders alumni with the ALF's Young Mediterranean Voices alumni and to set up an inter-active policy dialogue with high-level EU representatives. The first debate took place on 23 April with EU Ambassador to the United Nations, Olof Skoog, ahead of the UN Security Council open debate on Youth Peace and Security.

The purpose of the second online debate was to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on youth policies and institutions. It brought together young leaders from the Euro-Med region and the EU Neighbourhood with JosepBorrell, the High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission and Fabio Castaldo, Vice-President of the European Parliament and lead Member for the Young Political Leaders programme. Scene-setters for the dialogue also included the European Parliament's Director-General for External Policies, Pietro Ducci.

Mr Borrell emphasised that inter-generational and inter-cultural dialogue inspiring and important. He underlined that the EU strongly supports all concrete initiatives to remove obstacles for young people to participate in the democratic life of their countries and make their voices heard.

Likewise, Vice-President Castaldo stressed the need to foster a culture of dialogue and highlighted the importance of the digital transition as a way to build more bridges between people and for youth in particular. He also criticised countries using COVID-19 as a cover for pursuing agendas that undermine democracy and limit freedoms, including freedom of speech and of the media.

The participants shared their own experience of living through the pandemic and made concrete recommendations on how to further involve youth in decision-making processes.

They stressed that the crisis brought a number of challenges including a lack of capacity and proper infrastructures to be able to follow education online, disinformation, violation of human rights, job losses and economic decline, mental health issues due to isolation, etc.

However, they also underlined the opportunities that have also emerged from the crisis including for creative projects, such as online dialogues (youth-to-youth, youth-to-expert, youth-toauthorities), intergenerational solidarity (including online) and cultural initiatives to foster dialogue and reconciliation.

Out of this debate, some concrete recommendations emerged such as ensuring youth-inclusivity in all dialogues, strengthening the voice of youth by notably creating an EU Special Envoy for Youth, as the United Nations and the African Union have done.

This online event shows that while it is not currently feasible to organise face-to-face encounters for our Young Political Leaders, the European Parliament continues to explore meaningful ways to bridge geographic and cultural divides and to reach out to young people as agents of change.

Online Dialogue on Youth, Peace and Security

23 April 2020

Young Political Leaders alumni contributed to an online dialogue on Youth, Peace and Security ahead of the open debate at the United Nations Security Council.

Two alumni of the Young Political Leaders programme's participated in an online dialogue on "Peace, Security and position of Euro-Med Youth" initiated by the Anna Lindh Foundation together with the European External Action Service.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security. This event was therefore an opportunity to look back at what has been done so far as well as what still needs to be addressed in the years to come.

This virtual dialogue was particularly timely as it also provided the opportunity for the seven young people invited to focus on recommendations to improve the implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda. They did this by sharing their own experience of the conflicts they are living through and - based on these real-life examples - by making concrete recommendations for the subsequent open debate at the United Nations Security Council scheduled on 27 April 2020.

Following the discussions, the EU Ambassador to the United Nations, Olof Skoog, committed to reflect the outcome of the exchange in the EU statement presented at the United Nations Security Council debate.

The participants' recommendations notably included the importance of investing in youth-to-youth dialogue as a way to scale up the dissemination of peacebuilding approaches throughout society. They also recommended involving young people asactors in peace processes and ensuring youth-inclusivity in all dialogues.

Through this online dialogue, the European Parliament expressed its long-term support to the EU's implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda.

In these difficult times, the European Parliament is proactively developing innovative ways to continue engaging with youth and (virtually) break the isolation in order to support young people as active drivers of change.

YPL Alumni Visit Last Plenary Session of Eight Legislature

15-17 April 2019, Strasbourg

Young Political Leaders in Strasbourg

The European Parliament welcomed a group of young politicians, researchers, journalists and activists on 15-17 April 2019, as part of its efforts to reach out to future generations and promote peace around the world.

The visitors, alumni of the Parliament's Young Political Leaders' programme, came from two regions neighbouring the EU that face deep, long-standing conflicts: the South Caucasus and the Middle East. Participants are drawn from both sides of the divide -Armenia and Azerbaijan and Israel and Palestine. The event provided a platform to look beyond the conflicts and engage constructively on the role of young peacebuilders and the ways to leverage the global Youth Peace and Security agenda.

A tailored programme

During their three days in Strasbourg, the young leaders engaged in sessions devoted to analysing,preventing and resolving conflicts.

Their programme included discussions about the situation in their home countries with political group advisers, as well as exercises designed to sharpen their peacebuilding skills.

Participants also followed a meeting of Parliament's Foreign Affairs committee (AFET) attended by Federica Mogherini, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

A number of MEPs engaged in lively discussions with the group, including EP Vice-Presidents Ms Livia Jaroka and Ms Heidi Hautala and the Chair of the EP EURONEST Delegation Ms Rebecca Harms. The participants also met European Union Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Commissioner Christos Stylianides, as well as high ranking officials from the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.

Conflict Analysis

As different, as the conflict contexts could be, all young leaders have to face highly polarised public opinions in their communities and to address this challenge daily on both professional and personal level. To this end the centrepiece of the programme was a conflict analysis exercise organised with the facilitation of two renowned experts on the region - Mr Stephen Young,  Advisor at CMI and Mr Marc Otte - Vice-president of the European Institute of Peace. In the frame of the exercise each group had the chance to look into the conflict of the other drawing on each other's experiences and perspectives.

European Elections 2019

Organising the event during the last Strasbourg session of the eight Parliamentary term exposed the participants to the work of the Parliament during a politically interesting moment in the wake of the upcoming European elections. The participants followed the last Future of Europe debate in plenary with Mr Krisjanis Karins, Prime Minister of Latvia and were briefed on the institutional election campaign for EE2019 by colleagues from DG COMMs services.

The Young Political Leaders' Programme

The Young Political Leaders' Programme is one of the initiatives of the European Parliament's Democracy and Election Coordination Group (DEG), a dedicated group of MEPs who oversee the Parliament's efforts to support democracy beyond the EU.

Since 2013, the programme brings together youth from outside the EU to bolster their skills and encourage peaceful dialogue and cooperation. The project is inspired by EU core values -including human dignity and respect for human rights - and the role that the next generation of leaders can play in building better, more peaceful societies.

2nd High Level Youth Dialogue “Bridging the Gap” with the Western Balkan countries

On 20 -21 September 2018, about a week before the historic referendum on the name issue in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the European Parliament is launching a dialogue on youth political participation in Skopje. The event will be hosted by the Macedonian National Assembly and will be organised partnership with the Assembly and the European Commission.

The 2nd High Level Youth Dialogue "Bridging the gap" will once again provide a space for youth representatives and young Members of Parliaments from the Western Balkan to deepen dialogue and an agenda for action on youth policies which are central to ensuring the European perspective of the countries in the region. The regional perspective also contributes to initiatives to support reconciliation and good neighbourly relations, which is a fundamental part of the regions successful progress towards the EU.

The programme of the Bridging the Gap dialogue was extended with the introduction of  Policy Labs sessions together with the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission's science and knowledge service. The Policy Labs will address four critical topics - Youth engagement with politics, Youth Employment, Enterprise and Brain Drain, Fake News and Disinformation as well as Reconciliation and Legacies of the Past.

As well as producing policy recommendations, the Policy Labs will provide an innovative policy design blueprint that could be used pro-actively in the implementation of youth policies at the national level in the Western Balkans countries.

Youth, Peace and Security

Photo of the YPS meeting room

'Young people are agents of innovation, development and change and, as such, are natural and essential contributors to conflict prevention and peace building around the world.' was president Tajani's message after officially opening the two day high-level conference on Youth, Peace and Security.

This conference, held on 23 and 24 May 2018 in Brussels, was an essential part of EU's implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, as set out in UN Security Council Resolution 2250 (UNSCR 2250).

It builds on the work done at around various EU youth networks, including the European Parliament's Young Political Leaders' Programme, and other initiatives to promote youth in peace building.

These concrete results from the 2-day conference on youth, peace and security stood out:

·        It asserted the European Parliament's full support behind the EU's engagement on Youth,Peace and Security as it was envisaged by the DEG 2018 annual work programme and as an essential part of the European Parliament's Young Political Leaders' Programme.

·        It provided an innovative platform for EU-level policy dialogue on Youth, Peace and Security through engaging youth from and working with the EU and a very diverse range of stakeholders in a level playing field.

·        It created further impetus for EU-UN cooperation on youth in peace building.

Conference on Youth, Peace and Security

23-24 May 2018

Poster - Promoting Youth

This conference was foreseen in the Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group's 2018 annual work programme and is an essential part of the European Parliament's Young Political Leaders Programme.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani opened the conference, with several Members of the European Parliament actively participating. The conference was officially closed by Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, at the offices of the European External Action Service.

The EU has been stepping up its work on the implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda, as set out in the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 adopted in 2015.

This EU Conference on Youth, Peace and Security represented a milestone in the EU's engagement with the agenda, aiming to catalyse the EU-UN strategic partnership on youth in peacebuilding. Young peace builders were joined by representatives of EU Institutions, EU Member States, UN entities and other multilateral and non-governmental partners.

Young Political Leaders from Armenia and Azerbaijan

5-7 March 2018

The Young Political Leaders Programme included, for the second year in a row, a specific project focussing on Armenia and Azerbaijan, aimed at fostering dialogue on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It brought together young leaders from political parties, non-governmental organizations and academia from each country and encouraged them to explore ways to play positive roles in peaceful dialogue and the search for solutions to the conflict.

This programme included sessions with key Members of the European Parliament and other experts, as well as two facilitated case studies during which participants were invited to reflect on their own situations and identify opportunities for their own contexts. The participants also explored opportunities to work together on the further development of projects and initiatives related to the search for a peaceful solution in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The dynamics during the second Young Political Leaders for Armenia and Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict showed a positive deepening of the dialogue with constructive and positive exchanges between participants reflecting openly on their own national views. 

The result was a programme that was widely appreciated by the young leaders. They expressed that it contributed to building trust, as well as to their empowerment, as present and future opinion leaders, to pursue peaceful solutions to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.


Democracy and human rights