The Economic and Social Council met again with students to hear their voice about the future of Bulgaria and the EU. This time the discussion with the young people from the National High School in Finance and Business in Sofia was on the topic: "Young People for Europe". The purpose of the discussion was to consider the benefits and challenges for Bulgaria's membership in the European Union, as well as to broaden students' knowledge in the field of civic education.

The discussion was attended by more than 40 students who participate in the Ambassador School Programme of the European Parliament." The aim of the programme is to increase the awareness and understanding of high school graduates of the EU institutions, their functioning and, above all, the ways in which citizens, and especially young people, can be actively involved in the decision-making process.

Opening the discussion, Prof. Lalko Dulevski, PhD emphasized that it is of utmost importance for Europe and Bulgaria to pay attention to the positions of young people, because their future is the future of our country and the EU. He recalled that this is another one in a series of meetings with students of the National High School in Finance and Business and their opinion was always relevant to ESC.

Yanka Takeva, Head of the Teachers' Union at the Confederation of the Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria and a member of ESC, noted in her welcoming speech the role of civic education for the active participation of young people in government and the EU. She emphasized that a UNESCO study on the implementation of civic education in Bulgaria gave a very high rating to both educational programmes and students' knowledge.

Headmistress Maya Gesheva announced that besides from the EC Junior Ambassadors Programme, students have the opportunity to study at the UN's 17 Millennium Goals, recognized as leading in European policies, in a special corner dedicated to them.

The students developed positions in three working groups on several key issues related to the benefits and challenges of Bulgaria's EU membership. All three groups cited as the most significant benefits the free movement of people, goods and capital in the EU as well as the convergence of living standards. Secondly, they highlighted the importance of Bulgaria's EU membership for the optimisation of our education system, emphasizing that education is both a benefit and a challenge for Bulgaria. The topics of ecology and migration were also highlighted in the discussions. Students considered the improvement of the healthcare system in Bulgaria as a challenge, and Bulgaria's admission to the Schengen Area and the Eurozone also provoked profound discussions.

In conclusion, Prof. Dulevski, PhD expressed his delight with the high level of awareness and depth of reasoning that the students demonstrated and wished them success at school and in continuing education. The enthusiasm and ongoing conversations made it clear that students were eager and ready for more discussions like this one in the future.

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