In his opening speech, Ambassador Ivan Surkoš, Head of the European Union Delegation, addressed the young audiences, saying: “Realizing that youth is the world's greatest power, the EU is keen to support youth worldwide. This is manifested in the adoption of the EU Youth Strategy as a framework for cooperation late in 2009. The strategy aims at providing more and equal opportunities for young people in education and the job market and encouraging young people to actively participate in society."
Ambassador Surkoš stressed that addressing the needs and aspirations of youth is a key to a brighter future, especially that young people often comprise the majority in countries, such as in Egypt. "Few days ago, the 4th National Youth Conference was held in Alexandria, with the aim of engaging young Egyptians. The EU is also keen on interacting with the youth and in addressing their issues," he said. "In that respect, youth from the region including Egyptians have participated in a policy dialogue with the EU High-Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini earlier this year."
Mr. Surkoš highlighted the EU’s strong support to activities that benefit young Egyptians, ranging from basic education and vocational training through the Erasmus+ programmes, as well as innovation and research funding provided by Horizon 2020, to supporting youth in finding employment opportunities.
"Last week, the 7th session of the Association Council of the European Union and Egypt took place in Brussels, in which we adopted the partnership priorities between both sides for the years 2017-2020. In the joint statement following the meeting, we highlighted the fact that youth and women are of particular importance in the EU assistance programs to Egypt," the Ambassador said.
The EU assistance to Egypt amounts to over EUR 1.3 billion of ongoing grants to support Egypt's economic, social and political development to improve the future prospects of its people, especially youth and women, and contribute to stabilization and long-term prosperity.
More than 200 youth and representatives of media and civil society organisations attended the event. Panel discussions were held providing the audience with information on EU opportunities, ranging from education, technical and vocational education and training, to entrepreneurship and support to youth policy development. An exhibition of selected EU-funded projects targeting youth, in addition to a music performance by 100 Copies band featuring young Egyptian artists were held on the side-lines of the event.
The event in Cairo falls within the #EU4YOUTH social media driven campaign (Facebook, Twitter) aimed at raising awareness of EU-funded youth initiatives in the EU Southern Neighbourhood countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. The campaign targets one million young people in the age group 18-35 in the EU Southern Neighbourhood countries.