Between historical buildings of more than 2000 years the European Greens took their chance to make an historical step: After 20 years of first contacts, slowly growing together and becoming more and more one movement despite all differences they founded the first European Party: the European Green Party. They? And what about us? We as the young greens are the ones who have to live with this European Party in the future, the ones who have to fill it with life. That’s why we met in Rome to have a critical eye to the enthusiastic old greens and discuss our role within this new green party. Below you will find the manifesto which was discussed and presented at the EFGP.
Young Greens in a Green Europe – Manifesto 20th February 2004 Rome
During February 20th to 22nd the European Federation of Green Parties will turn itself into the European Green Party. This is another big step for the green movement in its Europe-wide co-operation. The new EGP/EFGP will have the first common election campaign for the European parliament elections and united they will fight for a green future in Europe, despite differences within the various parties.
The Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) is a network of young green groups all over Europe and is growing together in terms of co-operation and exchange. The number of multinational activities within the FYEG network has increased enormously. We have observer status in the EFGP/EGP. The process of growing together of the European Green Parties also offers new opportunities to us.
The Federation of Young European Greens defines itself as the one and only young green organisation in Europe that is affiliated to the European Green Party / European Federation of Green Parties without losing its independence and critical point of view towards green politics. We don’t want to always disagree with the Green parties, but we must create alternatives. We also want to raise the influence of young people within the EGP/EFGP for instance by promoting young candidates, supporting youth topics in election campaigns and reminding the “old” greens of our interests and the interests of the FYEG Member Organisations. We will be present at EGP/EFGP meetings to stress our aims according to the political platform discussed by the FYEG General Assembly every year.
The Greens in Europe are facing the problem of getting older – the young greens of the past are sitting in parliaments and party boards and are no longer the youth movement that it has been in some countries. The Greens in Europe have to take care that they won’t end up as a single-generation party. New young people are needed to continue the struggle for a greener Europe and world. Therefore the green parties have to implement a number of measures to encourage young people to join the greens and stay with them.
The green parties shall provide young newcomers with the knowledge about how a party structure works and how they can take part in any level of the party. Young greens should have the opportunity to visit seminars that support their organisational, rhetorical and leadership skills. Mentoring programs are a good method to prepare young newcomers for possible future responsibilities, especially for young women and minorities. Internships in party offices or parliamentary offices provides an inside view of green politics and can be helpful for young people who would like to join the greens.
The Green Parties should carry out pro-active membership campaigns for young people to show that the greens really are interested in young people’s opinions, are open to new ideas and wish to address the issues that resonate with, and are most important to, today’s youth. These campaigns should also highlight that, by joining the Greens, young people can make a significant contribution to the political process and make a difference. Once a young person enters the green party, the “old” ones should do their best to retain them. This means that closed groups which don’t leave any space for young people with new ideas aren’t very helpful. Daylong discussions about statute changes and “power politics” are less attractive to young women and men.
Young people need help and motivation to feel at home in those groups and to start taking responsibility. They have the energy to develop new ways of politics.
Young greens have visions and mostly are ready to take responsibilities – electable places on election lists shouldn’t be reserved for yearlong party workers who have worked their way through every political level. Young people bring fresh air into dusty parliaments and are representing a large part of voters and the future leading generation. With their representation in the parliaments, they are promoting active citizenship for young people.
Most green parties in Europe already have a youth organisation; sometimes as part of the party and sometimes very independent. Those organisations need the support of their mother parties, be it financial support or just by showing them how important they are for the “old” greens. And they are very important! Young Green organisations build the future basis of green parties and take a lot of the tasks concerning distributing knowledge about green party structures and leadership skills and promote green values within the youth. The Green Parties should value their younger colleagues and note that young politics is not only educational and concerned with typical fields of policy – young politics is the full range of all aspects of life, such as environmental justice, social welfare, sustainable economics and human rights.
The Federation of Young European Greens and its member organisations are trying their best to make the young green voice heard within the parties. We want to work more closely together with the EGP/EFGP. Therefore we’re going to be represented at EGP/EFGP meetings to present our activities and promote our standpoints by tabling amendments. We will continue to engage in a critical dialogue with the green parties and encourage our MOs to do so as well. FYEG will go on to raise its voice for young candidates by making sure that they’re properly included and it is not just a matter of tokenism.
We want to make the young green voice heard within the greens and the general public. This will include: networking with NGOs and the green movement; having young people represented on all bodies; developing policies through dissussions; building local expert groups and taking controversial and creative actions (not only in the traditional way).
The future of the greens in Europe is our future! FYEG will continue its struggle for a greener world. Therefore we intend to strengthen our Europe-wide network and continue to work on our policies. We will implement further campaigns as our ongoing migration campaign and together strive for a green Europe and a greener world. Think green, act green!.
Key Recommendations. The EGP/EFGP should work to:
- Encourage, include and promote youth candidates, and support youth topics in election campaigns.
- Ensure that it remains aware of FYEG interests and the interests of FYEG member organisations, by, for example, supporting FYEG attendance and participation at all EGP/EFGP meetings
- Implement a number of measures to encourage young people to join the Greens and stay with them, such as: carrying out pro-active membership campaigns that also address issues most important to young people; providing seminars; establishing mentoring programmes; and offering internships in party and parliamentary offices.
- Provide ongoing support for green youth organisations at a national level
- Recognise that youth politics covers the full aspects of life.
- Help to ensure that the young greens voice is heard within the greens and the general public.