Trade Workshop (28/10/2018)

rade is at the center of our global economy, yet increasingly being called into question by citizens and politicians. On Wednesday, 28th November 2018 the Global Shapers Hub Geneva, Global Shapers Hub Brussels in collaboration with the EU Commission organised a workshop on Trade and technology – brave new world? during the 2018 EU Trade Days.

The unique workshop was lead by the Global Shapers of the Brussels and Geneva Hub and brought together around 30 youth from all over Europe to explore how youth believes that new technologies will impact future trade and how the EU can better adopt it’s trade police to tackle the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The workshop used the input from the youth global survey conducted by the Geneva Hub in August 2018 to identify three key challenges that the participants should discuss: (1) Education & training; (2) Technology & EU Policy; and (3) Youth Involvement. The key recommendations were:

Education & Training:

  • The EU should set standards for an EU Policy for Digital Education with a strong focus on technology, science and mathematics to provide a common approach in preparing EU citizens with the skills of tomorrow
  • The EU should provide funding for research on ways to re-educate people and equip them with future skills. Funding could come from Horizon Europe
  • The EU should encourage the creation of “national centres of excellence” which promote digital skills and enables students and citizens to learn how to use cutting-edge technologies and provide an environment for public-private partnerships learning to Europe closing it’s skills gap
  • Companies should focus stronger on providing continued education to their employees, by possibly moving to a new approach of 4 days work and 1 day education which will allow employees to learn new skills and the company to remain at the cutting edge of developments

 Technology & EU Policy:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain as the top technologies to impact the future of trade, with most also believing that the EU was not ready for these technologies
  • To ensure that the EU considers the impact of these technologies, participants suggested that the EU should include technology impacts as a key criteria of every legislative impact assessment
  • Participants encouraged the EU to take a stronger role in setting global standards and norms during trade negotiations

Youth Involvement:

  • Overall, participants agreed that the young generation is not being included sufficiently by political decision-makers
  • While youth are sometimes being consulted this should become a regular process and also involvement in areas outside of youth policy such as trade and environment policy which have a big impact on future generations
  • One major issue was that the EU was perceived as too distant from citizens. Only already interested parties and politically engaged youth were active with the EU, thus the EU should try to increase it’s presence on social media, be more interactive on the Internet, e.g. by organising online workshops, give a larger role to the European Youth Parliament within the EU legislative process and better connect representatives with youth

Overall, the young European participating in the workshop shared the view that technology will radically change our society and our trade policy in the future. The EU needs to rethink how we approach education of young people and our current workforce, if we want to ensure that Europe has the necessary skills. This also means that Europe should not be afraid to push boundaries and explore new models such as an EU Policy for Digital Education or centres of excellence.

As a global power, Europe should leverage its influence in global organisations and during bilateral trade agreements to set standards for new key technologies and consider the impact of technologies more widely when drafting new legislation. Finally, the young participants demanded a stronger voice in policy making. Europe needs to make policies for the future generation and thus also give it a stronger voice at the table when making decisions. This will help generate greater acceptance and understanding of Europe.

The Brussels Hub was represented by Sophie, Youssef and Thomas while Enrico, Eleonora, William and Giovanni traveled from Geneva to Brussels.