In the second half of 2020, Germany held the EU Council Presidency for the first time in 13 years. This came with the honour of holding informal Council of Ministers meetings on a wide range of policy areas from German cities. A good enough reason for the European Commission to launch the #IGetinvolvedEU project: before each of the 16 informal Council meetings, a workshop with young people would take place, in which the youngsters would articulate their own policy goals and demands. These would be sent to the respective ministers before their meetings. And while in February the final preparations for the presidency were underway in German ministries, we at planpolitik were ready for take-off, too, to tap into fresh ideas by young people all over Germany and help them raise their voices in and for Europe.
Then came the first wave of the pandemic and completely threw our plans off course. At the time it felt like a tragedy, but in retrospect it was a stroke of luck. Thanks to the pandemic - and our client's unmatched flexibility - we managed to develop participation-oriented simulation workshops in which young people not only take on the roles of politicians and simulate council meetings online, but then creatively develop demands across a broad range of digital methods in order to present them to the decision-makers in the Council of the EU in the form of GIFs, memes, comics and videos.
In the end, some of the workshops even took place in person, but in terms of methodology, we are convinced: there is no going back. Although most of us prefer to have direct contact with our workshop participants, online methods that we have come to love will certainly have a permanent place in our workshops - even if they take place on site in the traditional way.
Another encouraging insight we've gained is that in times of populism and rampant conspiracy ideologies, the young generation shows itself to be more resilient than the average. Whether climate protection, migration policy, security cooperation or digital transformation - for them it is clear that Europe must be part of the solution, while we know that we want to continue encouraging young people to argue about what this solution should look like.