Interview with Andreea Scriosteanu, VP Candidate for the European Youth Forum

, by Dvir Aviam Ezra

Interview with Andreea Scriosteanu, VP Candidate for the European Youth Forum

In anticipation of the European Youth Forum elections scheduled for 16/5/24, TNF sat with candidates for the leadership roles in this organization, representing young people across Europe, and asked them questions regarding their visions for European youth and the European federalism

Hi :) Please tell us a bit about yourself – what is your background and day job?

I’m Andreea, a 22 years old Romanian, and I enthusiastically represent young people at European level as a member of the Board of the European Youth Forum, where I first became involved as Vice-President of the Romanian Youth Council (CTR). I advocate the protection of young people’s rights and their participation in decision-making in the European Union and the United Nations. I’m a scout, loving nature and non-formal education since high school, when hiking and organising events for children and young people became my passion. I hold a degree in International Relations and European Studies from the University of Bucharest and I’m planning to pursue a Master’s degree in Human Rights. For the purpose of this interview, I am very happy to share my thoughts personally!

What inspired you to pursue a leadership role within the European Youth Forum, and what specific qualities do you believe make you suitable for the position?

As a passionate youth activist from Romania, I am standing up for election to be the next Vice-President of the European Youth Forum. I am honoured to accept the nomination of the Romanian Youth Council (CTR) and continue fighting #ForYouthRights in the next 2 years! With passion for European unity and peace, my initial motivation to run for the Board of the European Youth Forum has been to bring forward the transformative impact we have together with member organisations when closely cooperating for a common purpose. I am strongly motivated to continue my work in the European Youth Forum, representing young people from 39+ European countries, and having the opportunity to invest together with members in our vision of European integration across the continent! Our members have been for a long time on the forefront of the fight for peace, security and #ForYouthRights. It’s time we claim our SPACE and continue working hand in hand for this ambition.

Youth of Europe. It’s time to claim our SPACE and to be: Strategic in leadership Passionate #ForYouthRights Adaptable in response to challenges Closer to our YFJ members Effective and impactful in advocacy!

Lastly, my friends would describe me as someone who is approachable, proactive, methodical and tenacious. I would agree with them, as these characteristics have proven crucial to my work in the European Youth Forum so far.

How do you see the role of the European Youth Forum in advocating for deeper integration and cooperation among EU member states?

I am a firm believer in European integration, especially in the positive aspects of enlarging the European Union. In fact, the promotion of youth participation with and within the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries has been a key area of my work in the youth sector and it has been an honour to work alongside many dedicated representatives from YFJ member organisations for this ambition. The European Youth Forum has an immense potential to highlight the work of youth organisations at the national level, in regard to pushing for reforms and advancing youth cooperation, and I’ve been investing a lot personally, by being a partner in several important spaces, such as an Advisory Board member of RYCO - Regional Youth Cooperation Office since june 2023, as supporter of the RCC - Regional Cooperation Council’s implementation of the youth policy labs in the Western Balkans and by engaging with the European Commission for the EU4Youth program implementation in the Eastern Partnership countries, though my work in YFJ. More so, the monitoring of the Youth Action Plan for External Action of the EU 2021-2027 has been important, as it outlines the key initiatives of the EU in both regions and, together with the EU Youth Strategy, it complements the EU work on the whole of Europe. This is just the beginning and I hope in the next Board we can enhance our work for a more integrated Europe, in line with the newly adopted Strategic Plan 2024-28, which outlines a specific direction focused on European integration. The “European” in the European Youth Forum represents the whole of Europe, and we need to make sure it is understood as such.

What initiatives would you propose to address the challenges faced by young people in accessing education, employment, and social inclusion within the European context?

Data-driven advocacy is key for social innovation in these areas, and I have been glad to work on the Youth Progress Index as part of my portfolio in the European Youth Forum. The third edition of the index was launched last October, and it looks at the progress in young people’s wellbeing in the last 12 years, across 150+ countries worldwide, measuring 60 social and environmental indicators. What I would highlight as critical in this context are the thematic reports produced by the YFJ, including on civic spaces, mental wellbeing and fiscal policies. For instance, there is a clear need for more age and gender disaggregated data generally, but also for more research on mental health and wellbeing of young people, as it links with various challenges young people face. I believe it is important to empower young people and youth organisations to use the index in their advocacy, but also for decision-makers to pay attention to the gaps in progress. Without a clear investment in young people, education, healthcare and the social sectors, we risk continuing the “austerity cycle” as it is highlighted in the third thematic report on Fiscal Policies and Youth Progress.

How did you get involved in youth politics and the YFJ? Can you provide examples of successful advocacy campaigns or projects you have led or participated in?

My first interaction with the youth sector was through joining the Scouting movement in Romania. I was keen on being part of major projects and international experiences that would result in offering me a better and broader image of Scouting as a global movement. Upon turning 18 I took on a decision-making role within my local group while simultaneously becoming the Vice-president of the Romanian Youth Council (CTR), where I focused on promoting and raising awareness for the rights of youth and opportunities from the European level. In Scouting, I have been organising community projects on the local level, and fostering cooperation between groups across Romania, while on the international level I focused on enhancing partnerships in response to crises. In the Romanian Youth Council, I collaborated with International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations and National Youth Councils, including JEF Europe, to revitalise the Black Sea Youth Cooperation following the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, to support youth organisations in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, with our efforts presented in the panel discussion on “The Russian war against Ukraine: the situation of young people” organised by the European Parliament Culture and Education Committee, but also during the high-level event “Regional Session for Europe, North America and Other States - 2022 ECOSOC Youth Forum”. In the European Youth Forum board, one of my policy-focuses is on building momentum for the universal recognition of the rights of young people, through advocacy in the United Nations Human Rights Council, together with our members and the newly established Experts Group on Youth Rights.

Do you support a treaty change in the European Union? If yes, how do you imagine the EU of the future and how should youth get involved in the process?

Yes! Every new enlargement of the European Union requires a treaty change, and I believe this is the perfect opportunity to better the European Union, in line with the Conference on the Future of Europe outcomes and the demands of young people across the whole of Europe.

Finally, we would love to have a personal book/movie/series recommendation for our readers!

Reading the Memoir of Adriana Georgescu - “In the Beginning it was the End. The Red dictatorship in Bucharest ’’ was heart wrenching. As a young person living in Romania, a former communist country, it is critical for me to gain an insight into the cruelty of this regime and understand why early signs of democratic erosion in our societies shouldn’t be taken lightly. Her memoir has provided precisely that.

Thank you for the interview!

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