Joint EFAy – CMC Conference in Corsica: Europe and its democratic challenges

By Emyr Gruffydd, EFAy Bureau Member for Plaid Cymru Ifanc/Youth

As a bureau member for the European Free Alliance Youth, I was invited to speak in a joint conference organised by EFAy and the Centre Maurits Coppieters, the think tank of our political party which represents stateless nations and minorities across Europe. It was held in the beautiful small town of Corti, on the island of Corsica. PNC Ghjuventù, the youth wing of the Partitu di a Nazione Corsa, were our hosts for this first conference jointly organised by EFAy and the CMC – and fair play, they hosted us well!

Youth delegates were present from Wales, Scotland, Occitania, Brittany, South Schleswig, the Aland Islands, Flanders and of course, Corsica itself. An even broader delegation was present from the CMC itself, covering nations such as Galicia, Friesland, Catalonia and the Basque Country too.

Les délégations étrangères en point de mire

It was interesting to hear similar and diverging points of view on Europe and its democratic challenges in the years to come. As it is central to our aims as a youth movement, self-determination was clearly on the agenda, and many participants were interested to hear how steps towards independence and self-determination were being made in Scotland and Catalonia. It is imperative that we learn from both these nations in our respective struggles towards a strong and socially just future for our nations and minorities.

I spoke about my dilemma on the European construction in its present form, and how we as a pro-European movement must not shy away from criticising this state-orientated, market-pleasing EU that distances itself from our aim of creating a profoundly democratic and social Europe. Analysing the present state of Welsh democracy, I commented that young people nowadays make up a large part of the “Don’t knows” in studies on constitutional or electoral preference, and that our role as youth political movements was to present ourselves, and our causes, as relevant to young people’s lives. We must work with civil society movements and campaign to create a strong, devolved media to strengthen our democracy and create a truly “Welsh dimension”, rather than it being merely a branch of British democracy, with the media and the press controlled by London. This must be replicated in stateless nations throughout Europe, creating stronger civic identities and involving young people in the construction of a true ‘Europe of the Peoples’.

Needless to say, the social side of the conference, as always, was top notch, allowing delegates to get to know other national or minority situations over an informal glass of wine (or five). EFAy events never disappoint, and at a time where issues such as self-determination, social justice and nation-building are more poignant than ever before, the Plaid Cymru Youth delegation certainly agree that more events like this one should be organised in the near future! Many thanks to EFAy, the CMC and Ghjuventù PNC for organising an interesting and informative conference.

                                                                               The lovely town of Corti, Corsica