Reviewing 2023

In our latest newsletter, we look back at the year 2023 and reflect on all the successes and activities in our networks and projects – but also on the many crises and challenges that, like many others, have kept us busy this year.

Dear readers,

Looking back on this year, fills us with both, great sorrow and hope. The source of the latter are the thousands of young people we worked with in 2023. Witnessing and strengthening their commitment and conviction, their interest, openness and togetherness was yet again a remarkable experience.

The Rebuild Ukraine Ambassadors published their ideas for a sustainable reconstruction of Ukraine in a policy paper; the Young Islam Conference gathered young people from France, the UK and Germany and developed a campaign against polarising, racist, and Islamophobic attitudes and discourses; network members of Understanding Europe reworked and implemented courses for school classes on Europe, social and climate justice, and youth participation; the Young Ambassadors Against Antisemitism met in Berlin to discuss current Jewish and postmigrant narratives; our travel grantees travelled the continent and creatively dealt with current political and social issues; and our Young European of the Year, Mikuláš Lakatoš, continued to strengthen Roma and LGBTQI+ communities in Slovakia.

But 2023 was also a year of crises, in Europe and globally. The persistence of war in Ukraine, the outbreak of war in the Middle East, or rising tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan – to name but a few – do have most severe consequences for thousands of people on the ground and cause pain, loss and despair to millions of people around the globe, not least affecting many young people in our networks and projects.

These crises do have direct implications for our peaceful coexistence in a postmigrant society. We witness an extremely worrying and outright dangerous rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Germany but also in many other European countries. Election successes of far-right parties have reinforced our concern for a pluralistic, democratic European society. A society who will commonly vote for the tenth time in June 2024 – in five member states, for the first time, 16-year-olds can cast their vote and make their voice heard.

Democracy and human rights cannot be taken for granted. It is on all of us to advocate and fight for an open and unified society where solidarity and peaceful collaboration can thrive. We believe that political education and volunteering in the field of youth participation are essential in this regard. But they require time, resources as well as a framework and structures that make them possible.

A big THANK YOU to all the dedicated young people, to our partners and friends who are tirelessly working to make Europe a better place. Let us continue in this spirit in 2024!