Given that the Young Ambassadors are building research on the issues that young people find important for the future, we thought it would be a good idea to let people know what we got up to at our last conference in Tallinn, Estonia!
We arrived in Estonia on a chilly Monday afternoon in Tallinn after a long day of travel. Everyone there was a little wiped out after travelling from all across Europe; with representatives being sent from every EU nation, along with Switzerland, and the Eastern Partnership countries, many opening conversations began with comparisons of our travel hours! We began the conference with a dinner to welcome everyone, and give us an opportunity to meet with our fellow delegates, before a relatively early night, so we were all prepared to begin work in the morning.
The next morning we had breakfast, and then travelled to the conference centre, the amazing Tallinn Creative hub – or Kultuurikatel. It was a really cool and interesting workspace that was set in the former Tallinn City Central Power Station, and provided a great backdrop for our work. The conference opened with a brief speech from Jüri Ratas, Estonia’s Prime Minister, who gave a warm welcome to all the delegates, then was followed by a panel discussion which included fascinating speakers, such as the Head of Estonia’s European Commission representation, and the president of the European Youth Forum. Next came a video welcome from the Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament.
After this we went through the structure of the conference, then were given space to work in both small groups and on larger panels to discuss the issues that effect young people in our home nations and organisations. This was a fascinating discussion that allowed us to discuss the common issues effecting young people, along with our more specific issues on a national level. We finished working on this around half five, and after conference closing, we headed back to the hotel. We met with our fellow delegates again that evening for dinner and a performance by Estonian musician NOËP, which was a really cool experience!
The next day we had some reflection on what had been done the day before, which then led to our developing a number of issues which were prominent and emerged as important. Based on these, we self-organised into committees to discuss these issues in greater depth. I spent the day with a group that discussed mobility within Europe, and the Erasmus+ programme, which was an interesting and productive discussion. The content of these discussions was then collected and submitted to the conference research team. That night we had dinner and a reception in the Sea Plane Harbour museum, which was a stunning and fascinating venue. Before we ate there was a greeting speech from Kersti Kaljulaid, the current President of Estonia, who spoke to us about young people’s issues in Europe, as well as the Estonian presidency of the European Council, and we were delighted that she joined us. There was then a wonderful performance from Estonian musician IIRIS.
The next morning concluded the conference, and the conference researchers took us through their discoveries and conclusions from the past two days. We then had an insightful Q&A with Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, before the official hand over to the Bulgarian representation, who are hosting the next conference in April. We all had lunch before delegates began peeling off to get airport transfers, though those of us with some time left in Estonia took the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Tallinn before finally heading home for some rest.
It was a packed and busy schedule, but we all gained some fascinating insights and were able to make important contributions. We are looking forward to building up our research and hearing what young people around the UK feel are the most important issues for them before our next conference
Bronagh Hughes, UK Youth Ambassador for Structured Dialogue and European Policy