Cascais, European Youth Capital 2018

, by Odile Romelot, Translated by Lorène Weber

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Cascais, European Youth Capital 2018
Cascais, Portugal. Lee Cannon - CC BY-SA 2.0

In November 2015, Cascais, a little coastal town in Portugal, renowned for its beaches and the famous Santini Ice cream, was elected European Youth Capital 2018. But who has already heard of Cascais and of the concept of European Youth Capital? This article tells you everything!

Cascais, its beaches, boats, ice creams, but most importantly, its youth!

In 2016, Cascais had around 210,000 inhabitants, and 40% of them were less than 35 years old. This town, 45 minutes away from Lisbon, is first a coastal resort attracting many Portuguese and foreign tourists. It has a harbour, beaches, parks, an historic city centre, and small restaurants. At first sight, it seems difficult to imagine that it is also a dynamic town, committed to its youth.

Yet, Cascais was chosen as European Youth Capital (EYC) for 2018. The town presented a “Glocal Youth” project, wishing to develop new dynamics at the local, regional and international scales.

What is the European Youth Capital?

The European Youth Forum is at the root of this project. Created in 1996, the European Youth Forum currently gathers more than a hundred youth national councils and youth NGOs. The main objectives of the European Youth Forum are the improvement of youth participation, the strengthening of youth organisations and the improvement of their autonomy and inclusion.

The EYC project was made a reality for the first time in 2009, when Rotterdam was elected European Youth Capital. The candidate cities have to submit a multifaceted project, centered around youth and Europe. As such, it must include a social dimension (youth associations, social inclusion, volunteering), a professional dimension (youth employment, informal training) and an international dimension (multiculturalism, European cooperation). The aim is to bring together the youth and local and European civic life through projects that are either pre-existing or under development, in order to make young people durably participate to social and political life in Europe.

According to the official website Cascais 2018, several events have already been organised since the beginning of 2018: conferences and workshops on labour market for Cascais’ youth, an international conference on youth social engagement, a binational forum on youth employment on the Iberian Peninsula, organised in partnership with Spain, but also radio programmes, concerts and a special week dedicated to feminism.

However, as illustrated by one of the promotional videos of Cascais 2018, the youth are still too represented in a superficial way, which is unfortunate with regard to their diverse aspirations. Thus, it is important to recall that the youth are not only fitted with an innate talent for selfies and walks around Cascais’ natural and historic sites, but that they can also be a creative, dynamic and strong-willed force, should we give them the place they deserve.

What about the youth?

The EYC project is only ten years old, but it seems to have made a good start towards being maintained over time. Applications from strong-willed and motivated cities are more and more numerous. It is reassuring to see that a certain place is given to European youth and their organisations.

As such, betting on the youth is both a matter of good sense and strategy. Good sense, because young people are European citizens like the others, with rights and duties, and they deserve their situation and the problems they have to face to be taken into account. Strategy, because young people have traditionally been more favourable to the European project than their elders, although this trend may have to be reconsidered since the resurgence of Euroscepticism. Moreover, the youth will be led to build the Europe of tomorrow. Thus, it is absolutely relevant to keep up this kind of initiatives and to spread them to all European countries.

The next European Youth Capitals will be Novi Sad (Serbia) in 2019 and Amiens (France) in 2020.

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