On the 21st of March 2024, the digital realm buzzed with the ideas and aspirations of European digital citizenship as stakeholders and participants gathered online for the EDCyber Online Final Conference, which is organised by Volonteurope and EDCyber project partners and marked a significant milestone in the journey towards fostering digital engagement and awareness among young people in Europe.

EDCyber, a KA3 project funded by the EU, mainly focuses on youth participation and the creation of online and local communities among young people to defend European values and advocate for the environment and democracy by using digital tools and cyberanimation methodologies. Over the last two years, project partners worked intensively and created tools, such as Cyberanimation Handbook, that are useful for youth workers across Europe, and young people from six partner countries have been campaigning for the mental well-being of young people in their communities. Mental well-being, as noticed in the EDCyber project activities, was one of the main concerns of youth ahead of the European elections which will be held in June.

The conference kicked off with welcoming remarks from Furkan Sorkuncuk, a Youth Leader and Project Coordinator at Volonteurope, alongside Antonio Giattini, the European Project Manager at Callysto APS. The keynote speech by Roger Casale, Founder of New Europeans, underscored the role of promotion of peace and youth participation in Europe amidst multiple crises – the cost of living crisis, post-pandemic, armed conflicts and climate change. “I saw a wall coming down in Europe when I was living in Berlin, but I saw another wall coming up in Europe during the Brexit,” says Roger. He continues to emphasise youth participation and mentions that the EU is a peace project and we should deliver peace now for young people and the next generations.

The heart of the conference was undoubtedly the discussion on European Digital Citizenship, moderated by Kostas Diamantis Balaskas. This panel featured Joséphine Fröhlich from Crossing Borders Denmark, Zia Perko Rogelj of Connect International, and Elisa Lironi of ECAS, who delved into the motivations driving young individuals towards the EDCyber Project, the objectives of their campaigns, and the impact of their efforts on social change, the use of effective communication with young people and European elections as well as European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI).

Topics ranged from empowerment through digital tools and the role of young people in influencing the outcomes of European elections to the integration of youth perspectives in institutional practices. The speakers also explored effective strategies for mobilising young people in civic activities and the significant role of CSOs.

The EDCyber Online Final Conference not only highlighted the achievements and challenges faced in promoting European digital citizenship but also reinforced the importance of continued dialogue and engagement among youth, organisations, and policymakers. As the digital landscape evolves, so too does the concept of citizenship.

Furkan Sorkuncuk

Project Coordinator at Volonteurope