Newham councillor asked to present ideas to MEPs in Brussels

Cllr Seyi Akiwowo speaking at the European Youth Hearings

Cllr Seyi Akiwowo speaking at the European Youth Hearings - Credit: Seyi Akiwowo

A 25-year-old councillor hopes to give young people a voice after discussing youth political participation at the European Parliament.

Cllr Seyi Akiwowo, who is Newham Council’s youngest representative, shared her ideas with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and the European Commission in Brussels on Tuesday at the European Youth Hearings.

The seven-week conference is a follow-up to the European Youth Event (EYE2016) in Strasbourg in May and at which the Forest Gate North councillor spoke to young Europeans about how they could create greater democratic participation in politics.

More than 7,500 young people came together to discuss, debate and exchange ideas and perspectives on youth-related issues.

The 50 most “impactful” ideas were published in a report for MEPs to read in September and its participants have since been asked to present their ideas to a full parliament hearing.

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Seyi said: “I felt really honoured to have people in the European Parliament believe in my ideas for improving youth active citizenship and to believe in it so much that I should present them to MEPs in their Committee meeting is gobsmacking.

“It would be good to have a similar initiative in the UK.”

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She added that speaking at the event “made me sad knowing that this relationship is coming to an end” in light of the recent Brexit result.

The former Newham youth council member outlined two initiatives to MEPs.

One of these was the introduction of youth quotas at all elections, from local to European. Seyi said she would like to see this introduced by the European Parliament election in 2019.

She also advocated “youth proofing” the EU through the introduction of an online platform in which youngsters could “become consultants on key operations of the EU” by identifying and offering advice on areas in need of improvement.

Seyi said: “My ideas were received very well by MEPs and the EU Commission. Two European political parties have been in touch and would like to meet to discuss my ideas further.”

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