YouTubers #AskJuncker

Listening to the voice of young people has long been part of the European agenda. In a recent event, President Jean-Claude Juncker proved to be a keen conversationalist as he spoke with some of today's most popular digital influencers among young people; that is, YouTubers.

Building on what seems set to become a yearly tradition, mid-September 2017 brought the President of the European Commission in front of Euronews cameras to engage in fruitful discussions with famous European YouTubers. Ready to scratch beneath the surface and cutting through post-State of The Union publicity, the young digital creators and influencers gathered questions from their followers to put to the President of the European Commission.

First up was Kovy, from the Czech Republic, who tackled a range of subjects from climate change and refugees, to how to reach out to young people. President Jean-Claude Juncker explained that Commissioners and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) regularly go back to Member States, and even directly to schools, building directly upon the join efforts to reach younger audiences on European-related matters.

Diana Zur Lowen from Germany focused on the influence of tech giants in her discussion; that is, those companies that are leading on innovation but also gaining in terms of data and power. President Juncker commented that people criticise these companies but also use readily use their services, explaining that there is a danger whenever companies have too much data at their disposal. One such issue is the potential for manipulation, and this is why there is a lot of importance given to certain European legislation such as the soon-to-come-into-force General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Their discussion continued, tackling issues such as cyber terrorism and fake news, and President Juncker pointed out that the EU is certainly working on these topics, reflecting also on the suggestion to the European Parliament to have a cyber-defense body in the EU, especially considering the fact that there were over 4,000 cyberattacks in the EU last year alone. More broadly on technology and education, President Juncker commented that education is a national competence of the Member States: they have to follow EU treaties, while still being keen and firm to promote national innovation and digitalisation in education as needed.

Concluding the discussions was Abdel, Belgian-Moroccan and a Creators for Change ambassador (the YouTube programme, as covered in a previous Better Internet for Kids (BIK) article). Abdel switched the discussion to international relations (Myanmar, African countries using CFA franc, and so on), finally focusing on non-discrimination. On the latter point, President Juncker explained that Europe is investing a lot in integration, welcoming prosecution for political/religious intolerance, and promoting solidarity with the aim of ensuring that the EU remains consistent on its values.

Additional questions were asked by viewers and followers using the #AskJunker hashtag, as summarised in a Euronews article and a video uploaded to YouTube.


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