Tuesday, 19 July 2022
The Assembly of European Regions (AER), the largest independent network of regional authorities in wider Europe will bring its flagship Youth Conference, the AER Summer Academy to County Donegal from 29 August until 1 September 2022.
Co-hosted by Donegal County Council and Údarás na Gaeltachta at the Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Campus in Letterkenny, “The AER Summer Academy—a Europe for the Next Generation” will bring together more than 100 politicians, youth delegates and civil society activists from across Europe for a week of debate on how to shape a more democratic, peaceful and sustainable future through real civic engagement of young people, starting in Europe’s regions. This edition of the Summer Academy is the first one since the pandemic, and it will be the first time this event comes to Ireland.
The Summer Academy takes place in a year of important milestones for Ireland’s relationship with its European partners. 2022 has been designated the European Year of Youth by the European Commission, and marks the 50th Anniversary of Ireland's vote to join the European Community, precursor to the European Union, in 1972. Ireland is also currently chairing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The event is being part-funded by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs’ Communicating Europe Initiative.
The Summer Academy will consist of plenary debates on youth participation in regional politics, and a range of workshops on rural entrepreneurship, the bioeconomy, the Ukrainian refugee crisis, the future of skills, of tourism and remote working. It will also include study visits to Derry City to learn about the Peace Process, Glenveagh National Park and Údarás na Gaeltachta’s ‘Gteic’ Gaeltacht remote working hub in Gweedore.
Confirmed speakers include, among others, Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, and Joe McHugh TD, Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs. Delegations are expected from AER member regions in Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Romania, Spain, Serbia and partner organisations in the youth field.
Announcing the launch, AER President, Magnus Berntsson said “We are delighted to bring the Summer Academy to County Donegal during the European Year of Youth, and in a year of special anniversaries for Ireland. It has been a tremendously difficult couple of years for young Europeans. As we reshape Europe for the post-Covid era, it is imperative that policymakers work together to give young people a real say in shaping their future—starting in our regions. The Summer Academy in Donegal will be a unique opportunity for young people to tackle the common challenges facing all of Europe’s regions.”
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Liam Blaney said ‘’we are very much looking forward to welcoming young Europeans, distinguished guests and speakers to our county for such a prestigious event. The items which will be discussed are of huge importance for our future leaders and we welcome the opportunity to facilitate such debate.’’
Micheál Ó hEanaigh, CEO of Údarás na Gaeltachta and AER Vice President for Youth said ‘’Údarás Na Gaeltachta are delighted to be partnering with Donegal County Council and AER in delivering the 2022 Summer Academy. We very much look forward to engaging with our colleagues in the broad AER network to address the wide range of issues which will be covered in the academy which will assist in generating a Europe for the next generation.‘
The Summer Academy 2022 is also supported by the Communicating Europe Initiative funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.