Sir: The Government have stated that they will be focusing on young people during the six months of the UK European presidency and we very much welcome this commitment.
Decisions on key issues, such as jobs, the single currency, enlargement, crime and drugs, will affect all Europeans but they will have a greater impact on younger people and future generations. It is with this in mind that we have united around the UK Presidency of the EU.
Young people have benefited greatly from Europe. EU-funded exchange programmes, such as Erasmus, have increased the mobility of students across the EU, with over 180,000 students studying in another European country last year.
The under-25s benefit from the European Social Fund through vocational training and recruitment subsidies. In 1997, for example, Scotland received a record pounds 95m in European Social Fund grants.
Despite these benefits, we would highlight two priority areas for the presidency: youth unemployment and enlargement.
Over the past 12 months, youth unemployment in the EU has remained above 20 per cent.
On enlargement, we urge the EU to be bold in reforming itself so that an enlarged EU can function effectively. Most young people were born or grew up in a divided Europe. We want to live in a Europe without division and a successful enlargement will help achieve this goal.
The UK Presidency is an opportunity to shape the Europe of the 21st century: a dynamic Europe in which every young person is given a chance to play their part.
President, the Young European Movement
National Secretary, Labour Students
National Organiser, Conservative Group for Europe
Chair, Liberal Democrat Youth and Students