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Discussion on the Future of the Youth in Digital Europe

Aula magna at Sofia University hosted a civic dialogue on the issues and problems faced by the youth in digital Europe. It was attended by a wide audience of students, faculty and guests.

The discussion during the event summarized the benefits of the immediate dialogue between representatives of the public authorities and the vigilant academic community; it also discussed the possibilities of the new digital technologies for distant interactive communication by means of the Slido.com online platform. During the time of the debate it published questions and comments by internet customers who the participants at the Aula read in real time. The event was broadcast live and commented in the social networks of Facebook and Twitter.


The moderator of the event Mr Petur Georgiev, a Bulgarian National TV reporter and an anchorman of the “#Europe“ Program introduced briefly the objectives of the event and the potential possibilities for open communication between the official guests and the citizens. He also briefly introduced the discussion pointing out that at the moment the digital future was one of the topical issues not only in Europe but all over the world, too. The speaker referred to the available prognostications which showed that in 2020 90% of the work places will require employees to have digital skills and by 2030 85% of the work places will be in professions which do not exist at the moment. “Business and education are moving to the cloud, cybersecurity is becoming ever so important for the stable development of the economy and society. Labour automatization is becoming the concern of many workers, including the youth, who are embarking on their starting career,” Petur Georgiev said.


Minister Lilyana Pavlova welcomed the guests and expressed her joy at the fact that on that very day – 9th of May, the Day of Europe – she had the opportunity to be present in Alma mater amidst students and faculty. “The dialogue with the young people does not merely stimulate us; it is a specific opportunity for the public institutions to hear the voice of the youth and establish feedback with them. Thus, the institutions can reach their personal interests and emotions, their expectations, and check whether they are moving in the right direction,” Minister Pavlova said. She shared her conviction that the Europe of tomorrow depends on how we would be building it, and brought the audience’s attention to the fact that Europe’s future meant shared responsibility.


Ms. Pavlova introduced Iskra Mihaylova and Maria Gabriel whom she specially thanked for their fruitful work in the common mission in the quest of the future of Europe and the place of Bulgaria in it.. “I am proud that two Bulgarian ladies preside over some of the most important sectors in the European institutions,“ Minister Pavlova said.


Ms. Iskra Mihaylova pointed out that the meeting was dedicated to one of the most important messages of the long-term EU financial framework put forward by the European Commission – digital Europe and the digital future. She also acknowledged the efficient work of the Eurocommissioner Maria Gabriel, whose success was both personal and an achievement for both Bulgaria and the whole of Europe.

Ms. Mihaylova expressed her joy at the opportunity to hear the questions of the audience at a moment when the European Parliament was about to embark on the debate of the topic – the new legal documents related to the policy and the documents of the policy of convergence, of territorial cooperation, of the social pillar, etc. She expressed her confidence that the meeting would send an important message the Bulgarian government as to what kind of position it should stand up for in the future concerning the place of Bulgaria within the EU and which gear we should opt for. Finally, she congratulated all present and pointed out that she was optimistic they would realize the future of Europe and the future of Bulgaria in Europe.

Maria Gabriel said that the strongest message was the message of unification. In her words, there was nothing better than Bulgaria speaking with one voice. What is more, the country stood up for an easily differentiated position within the European political landscape with its promotion of a common European approach for unification combating the challenges.


Turning to the young people present in the Aula, she claimed that the future of Europe was also expressible in numbers, and that in that respect the young people formed its driving force: “You are those who generate the ideas, who can look retrospectively and sift out the good practices from the bad ones.”

Maria Gabriel turned the attention also to the Erasmus Program, stressing that for her that was one of the most important programs and the success of the latter was remarkable. She noted that in the EC budget period that followed (2021-2027) the investments in the program would be increased and reach 30 billion which would give new opportunities to the young people to get in touch with other cultures and help them in their professional and personal career advancement.

Maria Gabriel also pointed to the fact that for the first time in the EU budget there was a separate Digital Europe program and thanked all her colleagues for their support. She drew the attention to the shortage of experts. In her words, in Europe today there is a lack of 350 000 IT specialists. It is expected that by 2020 the figure would come to 500 000. “That is why I would very much appreciate a program on a European level that will address the problem directly,” Maria Gabriel stressed.


The commissioner for digital economy and digital society also addressed the issue of security. She pointed out that nowadays that was one of the top priority topics for the European citizens but digitalization gave a new dimension linked with cybersecurity. In her words, it did not concern our personal data only; it was also linked with the critical infrastructure such as energy, transport, and healthcare.

In conclusion, she expressed the hope to keep on maintaining a realistic view of digital Europe because digitalization was an incredible source of economic growth and innovations; the machines would never make the people wholly redundant; they would provide new jobs. However, digitalization posed its risks, too. “That is why the young people have a key role to play. Because you are those people whose ideas, whose concrete policies would make it possible to preserve what makes us distinctively European in our approach to digitalization,” Maria Gabriel pointed out. In her words, that meant a common European approach wherein man formed the center and also managed the process from the beginning to the end.