Following the success of the GamifyEU month held in May 2020, a series of 60-90 minutes- long webinars/online events called “Coffee with…” giving young Europeans an opportunity to talk directly with european policy makers was introduced. The general concept was inspired by the initiative of YEU to have weekly informal conversations with the member organisations and their young people allowing them to discuss with the YEU Board and Head Office, important matters affecting their organisations.
On this basis, “Coffee with MEPs” was launched, aiming at bringing young citizens closer to the work developed in the European institutions. The general structure that was followed during the webinars was a short presentation of the speakers followed by questions of the participants, which were either previously or directly collected during the event.
By providing an informal setting where everyone was at the same standing point and were able to speak to each other without the formal protocol found in meetings with parliamentarians, young people were given the chance to open up easier and ask questions without fear of being irrelevant. Seeing a general mistrust and scepticism growing in the european public and more specifically from young people towards european decision makers, the goal was to break that cycle by having a direct and honest conversation with the people that represent them in the european institutions and in european affairs
Through those conversations with the guest speakers being young MEP’s and other young people who are active daily in european democracy, either through international non- governmental organisations or local organisations, the participants learned a lot from what they do in their day-to-day lives to better the lives of young people across Europe. In addition they gained crucial knowledge about the topics discussed in order to raise awareness and their capacities as informed democratic citizens.
More specifically, regarding the topics selected for the Coffee with webinars, there was an initial draft of around 17 engaging and current different topics that were disseminated through a questionnaire among partners so that all the young people from each organisation could vote on the topics they wanted to hear more about.
Based on the results of the questionnaire, it was decided to consolidate the topics in 4 webinars allowing the participants to cover more topics in each discussion. More specifically the most prominent issues were covered under the themes of Climate Change, Queer Refugees, Youth & the Pandemic and Fake News & Artificial Intelligence.