SNSPA seeks robust involvement in youth policy development


SNSPA’s Mihai Dragoș, an experienced youth advocate, speaks about the current and next steps on youth issues at European level, and how alliances like CIVICA could contribute to youth policy development.

Every time we speak about youth, we bring the future to life in the present. And we should be actively interested in the future because it is the direction we are headed. This ambition is reflected well in CIVICA’s mission to both serve society in the present and offer the next generations of Europeans the education and means to know and influence the increasingly complex world of the future. To understand more about the interplay between the present and the future, and especially about what CIVICA could bring for students, we spoke to SNSPA’s Mihai Dragoș, an experienced youth advocate.

Mihai is counsellor to the Rector of SNSPA and Vice-chair of the Council of Europe’s Advisory Council on Youth. He was previously President of the National Alliance of Student Organisations in Romania and President of the Romanian Youth Council. Mihai participated, in his capacity as a youth advocate, in the development of various higher education and youth policy proposals in Romania, co-initiated programmes such as the Romanian Youth Capital, took part in the European Steering Group of the EU Youth Dialogue, and has contributed to shaping the Council of Europe youth sector priorities for the 2022 - 2023 biennium.

What are some of your main goals as SNSPA’s youth issues advisor?

After more than ten years of national and international youth activism, I have recently joined SNSPA’s staff as an adviser to our Rector, Prof. Dr Remus Pricopie, seeking to deepen university involvement in youth policy development and cooperation with youth civil society.

In Europe, youth represents an increasingly high topic of interest. Tell us about that.

In recent years, youth has been in the spotlight in various strategies and declarations at the European level. Newly, at the Porto Social Summit, EU leaders committed to „prioritise action to support young people, who have been very negatively affected by the COVID-19 crisis, which has profoundly disrupted their participation in the labour market as well as their education and training plans."

On Council of Europe Day,  5 May, Secretary-General Marija Pejčinović Burić and Committee of Ministers Chair Heiko Maas pledged in their joint statement to „remain strongly committed to defending the rights of minorities and promoting the participation of young people in society. Their voices must be heard.”

What is the current work on youth issues?

Given the outstanding work on education mobility, and the ample opportunities to experience other cultures that young people in Europe, especially in the EU, enjoy today, we can say youth have benefitted the most from European integration and have the most „European” way of life and even identity. In the tumult generated not only by the COVID-19 pandemic but also by the technological advancements and their impact on work and social life, as well as political participation and political opinions, the climate crisis and other emergent phenomena, societies need to make sure they are adapting to young people’s expectations and creating the premises for the fundamental values that made this level of European integration possible, to continue to advance. Young people’s experiences and views related to Europe and its values will determine its future in the long run.

Speaking from your experience, what do you think the next steps on youth issues should be?

As former President of the Romanian Youth Council during Romania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2019, and current Vice-chair of the Council of Europe’s Advisory Council on Youth, I have experienced the need for more inter-connectedness with universities and researchers first-hand.

While „evidence-based policy” seems to be a quite appealing buzzword to include in policy statements and strategies at all decision-making and administrative levels, the truth is that, much of the time, policymakers, youth advocates, and researchers rarely sit at the same table together to develop relevant policies and to assess their impact.

How do you see CIVICA universities contributing to youth issues?

The EU Youth Strategy aims to reach 11 EU youth goals; the Council of Europe is considering the development of a campaign aiming at revitalising democracy, led by the youth sector; national and local youth strategies get renewed periodically and generally have annual implementation plans, which is all the more relevant now, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

How can CIVICA and its member universities contribute more to these initiatives and become a more vital partner to youth representatives and the relevant decision-makers? As we also explore possible answers to this question in SNSPA, we look forward to learning more from other CIVICA member universities’ experience. We also look forward to developing partnerships that lead to meaningful engagement in youth policy development throughout the EU and beyond.

Interview conducted by Catalin Mosoia (SNSPA)

1. The Porto declaration - Consilium.