“With the end of the Polish Presidency of the EU in the second half of 2011, it seems that the further progress of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative is taking a break. Not at all. Daryna Skryl presents the AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project, an initiative created within the framework of the EU’s Eastern Partnership programme.
According to the Programme of the Danish EU Presidency in regard to the Union’s Neighbourhood policy, “… work will be carried out to promote greater flexibility, increased merit orientation and better coherence in the EU’s efforts in southern and eastern neighbourhood regions”. It means that providing young people from the EU and Eastern Partnership countries with equal opportunities will not be the first priority. Despite this fact, the Eastern Partnership gradually becomes a hot topic among civil societies and social communities of the EU and outside countries.
On the 11th of January 2012, AEGEE-Europe (the European Students’ Forum), a youth non-governmental organization, approved the AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project (EaP Project) as its official operation. Working within the framework of the EU’s Eastern Partnership Programme Platform 4 “Contact between people”, the EaP Project aims to ensure equal opportunities for young people from Eastern Partnership countries and EU member states, and to improve knowledge about cultural, historical and political background of target countries within AEGEE Network. At the moment there are 25 people from 16 different countries working for the future achievement of these goals. The project covers the following fields of interest:
– Youth mobility in education
– Conflict Resolution
– Active Citizenship
The project is focused on youth from all over Europe, as well as on relevant stakeholders such as youth NGOs working on European integration, National Youth Councils and international platforms focusing on similar issues, universities from the Eastern Partnership countries as well as from EU member states, policy makers from Eastern Partnership countries and EU member states like Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, Youth Eastern Partnership Project, etc.
Following actions are planned to help in implementation of AEGEE EaP Project’s aims:
- Eastern Partnership Action Days: main focus is on confronting young people from all over Europe with real life in the Eastern Partnership countries – existing problems and their sources in this region, ways to improve the situation and general presentation of the Eastern Partnership programme of the European Commission and Eastern Partnership Project of AEGEE-Europe. Thus far, Action Days have been hold in Budapest, Passau and Tbilisi, and included ca. 350 young people from whole Europe.
- Conferences on Non-Formal Education: focus on organising local or European events regarding higher education systems and recognition of non-formal education.
- Youth Mobility manual: is a tool to include relevant information concerning youth mobility (available educational programmes, advantages of non-formal education and advices for future actions).
- Non-formal seminars in universities: focus on establishing cooperation with Student Councils in order to promote the value of non-formal education, improve the quality of youth events, broaden the knowledge about tools of actions and mobilize student audience.
- Living Library: its objective is to raise awareness about the Eastern Partnership region among students, showing them that citizens of EaP countries are not different from people living in the EU, but face a lot of unfair challenges at every step – and to get them more active.
Members of the AEGEE EaP Project think it’s important to give information to students in Eastern Partnership countries about their opportunities, to help them to understand European values, to raise awareness about historical background of the nations and to increase the level of tolerance in conflict regions – the main goal being the stronger cooperation between young people from EU and EaP countries.
Working on the AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project. Personal insight.
The reason why I’m working for the Project is, first of all, the Eastern Partnership, which, being a Ukrainian, I consider a very important and urgent issue to my country and young people from the EaP countries as well as EU member states. Reducing inequality regarding mobility and education possibilities, and minimizing serious troubles with visa and internal conflicts sound very difficult and complicated. But I believe that small steps lead to something much bigger and more valuable. Democracy is originally ruled by a healthy civil society, so the main global philosophic idea is to establish a strong civil society in the EaP countries that will consequently bring positive changes.
My engagement has also its unique impact on my personality. Managing the PR side of the Eastern Partnership Project allows me to work exactly in the direction of particular interest to me. My everyday list of responsibilities consists of writing articles about the Eastern Partnership programme, exchanging information and cooperating with various NGOs, implementing the projects, maintaining contacts with embassies, participating in thematic conferences, taking interviews with experts and so on. I meet quite a lot of creatively thinking people, public authorities, active leaders, politicians, policy-makers, etc. It supports my development both at professional and personal levels.
The upcoming event “Wybieram Wschód” (I choose the East!) within the Eastern Partnership Action Days will be held on 21 and 22 April in Poznan.
Daryna Skryl: lives in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, and studies at National Mining University in Dnipropetrovsk, Metropolitní Univerzita in Prague and College of Europe. Member of the AEGEE Dnipropetrovsk and PR Manager of the AEGEE Eastern Partnership Project