The bishops of COMECE, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union, have decried the “uncertainty, frustration and marginalisation” to which many young people are subject in Europe.
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In a press release Monday for International Youth Day, COMECE lamented the high youth unemployment rate in some European countries.
In Greece, Spain and Italy, for example, more than 30% of young people can’t find work.
This joblessness “deprives [youth] of the possibility of fully contributing to the development of society and negatively impacts their capacity to dream and hope”, the COMECE said.
Young people make up a third of the total European population, the bishops recalled.
For that reason, the COMECE said it is imperative that EU institutions work to reduce all forms of youth exclusion, and to empower young people “at all levels of economic, social and political life”.
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The COMECE recalled that in his Apostolic Exhortation Christus vivit, Pope Francis called on institutions and society “to make more room for the voices of young people to be heard”.
The bishops also remembered that upon receiving the 2016 Charlemagne Prize the Pope said that young people “are not the future of our peoples; they are the present”.
“We cannot envision Europe without letting them be participants and protagonists in this dream”, Francis also said on that occasion.
In its press release Monday, the COMECE also welcomed the proposal of a renewed EU Youth Strategy.
But it called on the incoming EU Commission to establish a new figure of EU Youth Coordinator, charged with “spreading young people’s voices at the EU level”.
The European bishops’ body pledged to continue collaborating with the EU Solidarity Corps initiative and with the Erasmus student exchange program.
That’s in the spirit of other youth-related projects the COMECE has organised in recent months, which have included the hosting of an event on youth participation in society and the convening of a platform to promote dialogue between youth and EU institutions.