NNA - On Thursday 31 March, 30 young Lebanese aged 18 to 30 years old from different educational and professional backgrounds were invited to a convivial meeting at the European Union Delegation in Beirut to meet with EU representatives and the EU Arabic Spokesperson for the Middle East and North Africa. This is the first in a series of “Coffee Talks”, organised in collaboration with the European regional communication programme EU Neighbours South and its focal point in Lebanon INJAZ. This non-profit organisation aims to educate and prepare Lebanon's youth to become successful entrepreneurs and qualified employees.
The objective of this first Coffee Talk was to provide a platform for open discussions around the European Union-Lebanon partnership and existing joint initiatives on education, training, capacity building, mobility, social inclusion and entrepreneurship support. Special attention was given to the challenges and difficulties faced by the youth in Lebanon and the opportunities offered to them by the European Union. The group of enthusiastic young individuals positively engaged in discussions with the representatives of the EU Delegation to Lebanon (Martin Lassen Skylv - Deputy Head of Delegation; Rein Nieland - Head of Cooperation; Wisam Kassem - Operations Attaché (JDP) and Luis Miguel Bueno Padilla - EU Arabic spokesperson for the MENA), INJAZ moderators (Samar Dani and Nicole Kazan), and EU Neighbours South representatives, sharing ideas and proposals based on their experiences in the current Lebanese socioeconomic context.
In his welcome speech, Mr Rein Nieland emphasised youth in the European Union-Lebanon partnership. He said that “Lebanon has a vibrant civil society and youth sectors. The European Union is here, and we care about the young people in Lebanon. We support youth in Lebanon through technical and vocational education and higher education programmes in particular. Today we engaged with many young people from Lebanon and have had the chance to hear first-hand about the young people’s challenges and aspirations related to social inclusion, the country’s economic recovery and how to ensure that nobody is left behind. I encourage those here today to be involved in the next phases of the EU Jeel Connect programme.”
The European Union declared 2022 “The Year of Youth”, calling upon young people in Europe and around the world to contribute to joint efforts to build a better future that is stable, green, inclusive and digital. The EU youth strategy is the backbone of European cooperation in youth policy. It supports youth involvement in democratic life and aims to help all young people actively participate in society.
In support of the European Year of Youth, the EU Neighbours South programme launched the EU JEEL CONNECT network covering 8 countries and territories in the Southern Neighbourhood region, namely Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. EU JEEL CONNECT is an initiative that aims to create better awareness of the EU and promote the opportunities offered by the EU to young people. EU JEEL CONNECT activities are implemented in partnership with 8 focal points in 8 countries. Each focal point has extensive experience in collaborating with and rallying young people in each country to give them a voice and defend values and causes that the EU and young people feel strongly about. Throughout the year, focal points will organise events and activities in their respective countries, invite young people from different regions and backgrounds to inform them about the EU and its various programmes and initiatives, and host discussions that further shed light on these.
This Coffee Talk in Beirut was the first in a series of events that will be organised in other cities, involving young Lebanese and representatives of the European Union in Lebanon. Thrilled with the success of this first initiative, members of the INJAZ Lebanon organisation, the focal point in Lebanon, are ready to resume the experience and mobilise more young people through upcoming Coffee Talks, to join the network and become “EU JEEL connectors” themselves. “We admire and believe in the youth of Lebanon who proves they have the determination and the drive to create a better future for themselves and the country. We are happy that programs, such as the EU Jeel Connect, provide more youth with the space to share their ideas, voice their opinions, and discuss the topics and challenges that concern them as youth living in Lebanon. We are very excited for the upcoming ‘Coffee Talks’ events and meeting the inspiring young from all across Lebanon!” stated Ms Samar Dani, Executive Director at INJAZ Lebanon.