On Monday 18th of May, the Catalan Government’s Minister for Social Welfare and Family, Neus Munté, took part in the EU Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council to address the issue of young people’s participation in Europe’s political and democratic matters. During her intervention, Munté underlined that “the economic crisis had a particular tough impact on Spain’s youths”, and emphasized that “the situation had implications on the way politics and institutions are perceived by young people”. These circumstances contributed to “an increased dissatisfaction and mistrust towards democratic institutions”, added the Catalan minster.
However, Munté noted that the rise in criticism of the current political arrangement “is not linked to political apathy but to an increased interest for politics”. To address this situation, Munté called on EU institutions to effectively face the challenge and show how interest in politics can be channelled through institutional means. It is therefore necessary to “find and offer solutions that match young people’s expectations”.
According to Munté, political youth engagement is linked to issues of interest rather than traditional politics, therefore actions should be intended to make institutional politics more attractive and bring debate closer to young people. For this reason Minister Munté encouraged the use of new technologies to foster dialogue between local administrations and young people, particularly in youths at risk of social exclusion.
With regard to young people experiencing high disaffection and are at risk of marginalisation or potentially vulnerable to extremism and radicalization, the Catalan minister noted that “there has been no increase in radical movements or political parties but rather a greater demand for democracy as a consequence of the crisis”. “This is undoubtedly a positive aspect', added the Minister. To fight radicalization, “we must address this request for more democracy and focus on radicalization and extremism as linked patterns of marginalisation”. Furthermore, “we must fight them through inclusive policies, social cohesion and opportunities”, concluded Munté.
The Council was chaired by the Latvian Minister of Education and Science, Marité Seile, with EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics also attending the Council.
During her stay in Brussels, the Minister held a meeting with the Director General for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports of the European Commission, Xavier Prats and met with Christa Schweng, President of the Labour Market Observatory and member of the European Economic and Social Committee.