LYMEC Autumn Congress 2021: Finally stepping outside the bubble again

Written by Felix Schulz, Member of the Editorial Team of Libertas 

 

After two years, LYMEC members finally met again in-person. From the 22nd to 24th of October 2021, about 60 young liberals from across Europe met in Paris and discussed current political issues from health, security and progressive drug policies.

Antoaneta Asenova-Bihlmayer, President of LYMEC, was proud that the LYMEC Bureau made this event possible. When she started campaigning to become the President of LYMEC in February 2020, she expected a different Presidency. When COVID started spreading in Europe, events had to be held digitally. What started out to be an exception, became the norm for over a year. “I thought it’s going to be a sprint – not a marathon”, Antoaneta said, when looking back at the first months of the pandemic.

However, this period enabled her to accomplish one major objective of her Presidency: Making LYMEC more digital and increase the digital involvement of the members. These digital tools now form the cornerstone of LYMEC’s interaction with members and made October’s Congress more inclusive. In order to reduce health risks, each member organisation was allowed to send only one participant. Members from Balkan countries even had to stay at home, because of the Corona restrictions set by the French government. But Antoaneta was pleased that the usual Congress format was back: “Stepping outside the bubble. That’s what LYMEC is about''.

During the Congress 21 resolutions were discussed and 19 adopted. Dan-Aria Sucuri, Vice-President of LYMEC, was behind one rather uncommon resolution. The board, together with some Member Organisations, put forward a piece about the situation in Afghanistan. The resolution demands a halt to funding for organizations close to the Taliban and also advocates for giving former local supporters of the armed foreign forces asylum in the EU. Since Dan-Aria is half Afghan, he was able to share with delegates firsthand information from the situation in Afghanistan. He reported that female relatives even had to delete all their personal data relating to university attendance, in order to leave no digital footprint for the Taliban to follow-up.

The resolution will now be taken to both the ALDE Party and the Renew Europe group. The objective is to make it part of the EU’s foreign policy. As liberals we cannot fail to be moved by the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. For Dan-Aria the situation in Afghanistan is a “wake-up call”. He claims that if we are engaged in a foreign country, we will have to take responsibility for our actions. The European Union is no exception and needs to take this into account, if it wants to strengthen its role as a geopolitical leader. 

Marina Sedlo, Policy Officer of LYMEC, explained the other resolutions to me. The main one was about students’ mental health during the pandemic. Many students across Europe faced depression and other mental health issues. Lockdowns stripped away social contacts and left millions of students alone in their small dorms and student apartments – especially in metropolitan areas like Paris, Rome or Madrid. The resolution is a sign that we will need to talk about the toll lockdowns take on populations and the need to fight the pandemic with more targeted measures.

Furthermore, we presented at this Congress the first digital edition of the Libertas magazine, which we hope to be the first of many. This is part of a complete makeover of Libertas that the Bureau initiated, so as to increase its relevance and outreach, as the voice of LYMEC, by striving for greater quality and higher regularity of articles reflecting our membership views through the editorial board.

All in all the first in-person Congress in two years was a great success. Also participants were happy to finally meet in-person again. One participant from Sweden said “a Congress is not only about passing resolutions, it is also a networking event.” Therefore, everyone is looking forward to the next Congress in Spring. This time hopefully with even more liberals from all over Europe. Fingers crossed!

 

About the author

Felix Schulz is a young liberal from Germany. Since 2015, he is a member of the FDP in Germany and joined the young liberals in the beginning of the year, where he is also a member of the editorial team. Just after his studies, he went to Ukraine for the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation.

Felix Schulz

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