Almost twenty young elected liberals from twelve different countries, participated in our Young Elected Local and Regional Leaders Summit, for discussions on revitalizing culture in Europe and consultations on upcoming European Committee of the Regions reports on drones and stopping gender-based violence.
Chaired by Dovydas Kaminskas, Mayor of Taurage, Lithuania and Renew Europe CoR President François Decoster, Mayor of Saint-Omer, France and Vice-President in charge of Culture, Heritage and International Relations for the Hauts-de-France region, this year’s YELL participants shared local examples of cultural democracy and how it unites communities to overcome challenges and foster a European identity.
YELL participant Tadej Marusic: “Culture is diversity, and diversity is transnational – but also local. If we do not respect our differences and build upon them to overcome them, we risk forgetting our united values. We need to build bridges among us, not walls. The European support being provided to Ukraine is the greatest example of this”.
Mariano Scuotri: Today we feel European, but we are not in Europe if we think about investment in skills, employment etc. How can we bring these to people in regions? We need to start talking about the problems that really affect people.”
Ramona Gogu added: “European culture means Ukraine and the UK as well. It ranges from books to people to food… And we never should stop promoting values with sister cities. It’s especially important now with the rise of extremists”.
Culture is therefore an important tool, but also counts as a valuable economic sector by creating jobs. This can be witnessed for instance in Timisoara, under its Mayor Dominic Fritz, as European Capital of Culture for 2023, while the Finnish city of Oulu with Mirja Vehkaperä, will look to bring more culture, well-being, jobs and develop their region in a sustainable way as European Capital of Culture in 2026.
YELL input in upcoming European Committee of the Regions reports
Included in the programme was also a consultation on two upcoming European Committee of the Regions reports; one with Andres Jaadla on the EU drone strategy and the other one with Donatella Porzi, rapporteur on the Stopping Gender-Based Violence. It was an opportunity for the YELL participants to expand on initiatives on these topics in their municipalities.
On drones, Laura Pukl said: “The military use of drones is the most popular, but it is the civilian use which is actually the most beneficial and is now somewhat overshadowed. Think of how drones can be used to urgently transport blood. If managed correctly, the possibilities are huge, but we must remain careful and educate people about the right use of drones”.
On stopping gender-based violence, Mariano Scuotri said: “We need to not only protect the victims, but we also need to have the courage to say that our European culture needs to be revamped to provide us with better education on this”.
Seventeen Young Elected Liberal Liberals participated in this edition from twelve different countries: Sebastiano Casoni, Rocco Vecchione and Mariano Scuotri (Italy), Kieron Franks (UK), Wijnand Van Drooge and Lisanne Van Damme (The Netherlands), Hotea Gheorghe Marian and Ramona Goga (Romania), Laura Pukl and Tadej Marusic (Slovenia), Soneta Blankaite (Lithuania), Maksym Menzatiuk (Ukraine), Sara Muzina (Croatia), Indrek Paljak (Estonia), David Kapusta (Slovakia), Julie Anne Samama (France) and Emils Dobrajs (Latvia).
The YELL Summit took place in Brussels on 14 and 15 September 2023, and included spending the first day with LYMEC and the Young Democrats for Europe at the ALDE Party and the European Democrats headquarters.