How would you reform Europe? Tell The Independent (in 400 words)

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The Independent Online

What should the European Union be doing in five or 10 years' time? What powers should it have and how should it be accountable?

If you are aged from 18 to 25 on 9 July here is a unique opportunity to influence the future of the EU, and to take part in the first substantial inquiry into the future of Europe for almost five decades.

Three winners of an open essay competition, run by The Independent, will meet counterparts from the 15 member states of the EU and from the 13 nations applying to join, to debate the future in the European Parliament in Brussels.

This chance to help shape Europe's destiny arises because the European Convention, chaired by the former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, has decided to set up a forum to canvass the views of the next generation. Three of the six representatives to be nominated by the British Government will be selected from the essay competition. Those wishing to take part should submit a 400-word essay on their vision of the future priorities and structures of the EU.

Essays should be e-mailed to: convention@independent.co.uk by no later than 27 May. The three winners will be chosen by a panel from the newspaper and the Foreign Office. They will attend the Youth Convention in Brussels on 9-14 July, as guests of the European Convention and the European Parliament.

After a debate on the key issues, the members of the Youth Convention will have the opportunity to present their conclusions to the full convention of 105 politicians. Its report will go to EU heads of government.

Peter Hain, the minister for Europe, said: "This is a defining moment for Europe with huge changes: the euro, enlargement and bringing the institutions closer to the citizens. It is critical to get this right and I hope the youth of Europe will help shape their future."

More information can be obtained from the following websites: www.independent.co.uk, www.europe.gov.uk or www.europa.eu.int/futurum/index_en.htm.

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