20 January 2022

Fundamental Rights Forum 2021 - Listening to young people

If we are serious about protecting fundamental rights, we need to start listening to young people and what they have to tell us. This message came through very strongly at the Fundamental Rights Forum 2021. As we kick off the European Year of Youth 2022, let’s look at why listening to young people is key to protecting their rights.


Nikola Legerska, European Network of Young Advisors, Slovakia: "If I had to say something to policymakers and leaders, it would be that it is very important to listen to children and what they have to tell you."

Maurits de Haan, represents youth with a chronic condition at JONGpit: "Because young people often aren't considered when policies are made. Policies must respect the rights of young people in real life."

Penelope Theodoraki, European Network of Young Advisors, Greece: "We're going to offer a different perspective, and they're going to get to understand us better and make sure that policies and services  created for us are going to be more in tune with our needs."

Vera Jourova, European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency: "It is high time that young people get their lives and voices back and are given the possibility to do what they do best - question, debate, discuss and shake us politicians."

Serena Ibrahim, Founder of Youth Against Corruption: "Some governments, of course, they don't want to listen to what youth have to say. Not because they don't want to change, but sometimes because they are not ready to rethink their systems. And they are not ready to put in the creativity and the new ways of thinking that youth are bringing to the table."

Michael O'Flaherty, Director, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights: "Young people need to be involved in discussion about now, and they need to be at its heart. And my goodness, that message came through so strongly from so many speakers over the last two days."

Ellie Massey, European Network of Young Advisors, Northern Ireland: "You can see that nearly every right is impacted negatively by poverty, which is why it is so crucial that governments act as a matter of urgency to fight against poverty."

Magid Magid, politician, former MEP: "Sadly, it's especially young people, young people from minority ethnic backgrounds who are really less likely to have access to opportunities and to secure employment."

Silja Markkula, President of the European Youth Forum: "What inspires me is really that we never stopped caring. We never stopped fighting. We never stopped fighting for the things that matter to us, whether it's climate, employment, education, all those things that have to do with our fundamental rights."