New panel to ensure issues affecting children and young people are heard in Brexit negotiations
In a landmark participation project, children and young people will have the opportunity to advise the Scottish Government on the issues they would like to be considered in Brexit negotiations with Westminster.
The Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe, which was initiated by Children in Scotland and will be independently led by the charity in partnership with Together (the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), will also develop resources to provide helpful information for children across Scotland about what leaving the EU might mean for their lives.
The Panel, which was open for applications through July this year, met for the first time on Saturday [18thAugust] to learn more about their rights as children and young people, and to decide how they would like the group to work.
Panel member Bailey-Lee Robb, 16, also a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said: “I’m really excited about being able to directly feed young people’s views into the Scottish Government’s plan for Brexit. It provides myself and other panel members with the opportunity to raise issues that are important to us as young people, which might go ignored in the complexity of the negotiations.”
The Panel will meet four times between now and December 2018 to share their views, learn more about the process of leaving the EU, and find out what other young people across the United Kingdom have said, before deciding what they want the priorities to be for the future.
In November, they will meet with Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, to share their thoughts on how he can best represent children and young people as negotiations between the Scottish and UK governments continue.
The Panel also hopes to work with politicians from across the political spectrum, from the Scottish Parliament and Westminster, to raise awareness of the project and explore opportunities for collaboration.
The project, funded by Scottish Government as part of the Brexit Stakeholder Engagement Fund, reflects similar projects in Wales and a joint project between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
It builds on work by the Scottish Youth Parliament, Young Scot, the My Life My Say movement and others, which found that children and young people feel anxious and uncertain about what Brexit means for them.
Juliet Harris, Director of Together, said: “Very little effort was made to engage children and young people in the EU referendum. The Brexit negotiations to date have been dominated by discussions on the economy, trade, immigration and sovereignty. No one born after June 1998 had a vote as to whether or not the UK should leave the European Union. As such, it’s essential that children and young people are supported to have their views heard.
“Many children and young people have strong views about the kind of country they want to live in and the values that we hold. This Advisory Panel will uphold these children and young people’s right to participate in political processes by ensuring their views are heard and taken into account.
Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, said: “It is vital that we hear the views of young people in Scotland about what matters to them in the EU-UK negotiations. I would encourage all young people to get involved and have their say about Scotland’s on-going relationship with Europe and the issues that matter to them most.
“This is about the future opportunities that will be available to young people and I will be using the views of this panel to influence my negotiations with the UK Government.”
Jackie Brock, Chief Executive at Children in Scotland said: “Children and young people have every right to have their say on political decisions which will affect their future. The UK leaving the European Union is one of the most significant and consequential choices for decades.
“We’re expecting diverse views on our relationship with Europe and we’ll be ensuring the Scottish Government hears from all the young people involved, whether they are pro or anti Brexit, undecided – or simply want more and better-quality information.”
“Participation in political processes is essential to young people’s democratic rights as citizens, and as Scotland’s membership organisation for the children’s sector workforce we are in a strong position to facilitate engagement that is genuine, inclusive and transparent.
“The project is an opportunity for young people to look at information and evidence about Brexit in a neutral space and come to their own conclusions.”
The Panel will be sharing blogs, video content and helpful resources for children and young people throughout the project.
- Chris Small, Communications Manager, Children in Scotland: 0131 313 8824 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Juliet Harris, Director, Together, 0131 337 9015 / email@example.com