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Most of today’s young people were born after Slovenia became a part of the European Union. For young people, EU membership may seem self-evident, but it is important they recognize that European cooperation and integration are not guaranteed. Young people themselves must also contribute to the furthering of this integration.

The highlight of the celebration on May 8 in Celje

In the Main Square, children from kindergartens and schools in the broader region of Celje presented EU Member States and countries on the path to EU membership. Children get acquainted with and explore individual countries throughout the school year. The celebration culminated in a presentation of the European Village Project, that has only endured in the Municipality of Celje, which has held it continuously for 19 years, practically since Slovenia joined the European Union. As part of the project, young participants showcase the rich cultural diversity, languages, lifestyles, and unique traits of European inhabitants. At the same time, they highlight the similarities of EU nations that connect and strengthen them.

Europe at School

On 8 May, Celje also hosted the award ceremony for the best works by pupils who participated in the Europe at School competition.

This year’s competition is entitled “If you do good, the good comes back to you”. It encourages young people to be aware that we all have the opportunity and responsibility to contribute to shaping the future of Europe that benefits everyone. The competition encourages young people to contemplate the concept of goodness and how to foster conditions for their own happiness and that of others, as well as how to demonstrate respect for themselves and others. Prizes and accolades were awarded to the best entries in the literary, visual, photographic, video, web and creative categories at the closing event in Celje.

Prior to Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth assuming national coordination of this project in 2005, it was overseen by the Information and Documentation Centre of the Council of Europe starting from 1999. Over 10,000 young individuals participate in the competition every year. The main goals of the competition, which engages kindergartens, primary and secondary schools as well as schools with adapted programmes, include fostering a creative approach to addressing social issues locally, in Europe and globally, as well as promoting the acquisition of new knowledge and enhancing mutual understanding, tolerance, and solidarity.

Common values form the basis of cooperation and integration among EU Member States. These values, including human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and human rights, have been upheld by the EU for over seventy years.

Accompanying Events

The celebration of Slovenia's accession to the EU in Celje was accompanied by a round table titled Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Republic of Slovenia's Entry into the European Union, organized by the Secondary Health and Cosmetics School Celje.

The temporary use space hosted an exhibition titled Images of Democracy: Selected Material from the Archives of European Union Countries. The exhibition was prepared by the EUROPE DIRECT Savinja Information Point, operating under the auspices of the Celje Youth Center, and the Historical Archives Celje. On display were 23 selected units illuminating significant historical moments such as the development of suffrage, processes of democratization, mass gatherings, and political turning points, efforts for women's emancipation, and peaceful conflict resolution. Reflecting both similarities and emphasizing the diversity and specificity of European societies, the exhibition will be reinstalled on June 4th at the Historical Archives Celje, and later it intends to travel across Slovenia.