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Tom Vandenkendelaere, the fresh face of the Young Members Network

23.06.2015 - 17:30
Tom Vandenkendelaere MEP

MEP Tom Vandenkendelaere is the new Coordinator of the Young Members Network (YMN), taking over from MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain. The EPP Group Young Members Network consists of Members of national parliaments from the EPP political family and EPP Group Members of the European Parliament (MEP) up to the age of 36 at the time of their election. Young members discuss important policy challenges for the future.

The 30-year young Belgian MEP tells us about his ambitions to put forward the EPP Group's young face and its young ideas.

What do you want to achieve as new Coordinator of the YMN?

The European Parliament (EP) is often said to be home to retired politicians. But it is so much more than that. It is a place where great young people gather from all four corners of Europe: young MEPs and assistants alike give a very dynamic force to this static building. So many policies that are decided here have a great impact on the lives of so many young Europeans.

A better future for those who come after, that is what we are all striving for Tom Vandenkendelaere

Through the YMN, the ambition is to put forward the EPP Group's young face and its young ideas. That is why we want to move forward one step, reach out to the Youth of the European People's Party (YEPP) and learn from the best practices that can be reaped from so many centre-right and Christian-Democratic young politicians in Europe.

What is the advantage or disadvantage of a being Young Member?

It is not about getting stuck into a 'we are better than them' position, where we prove we are better at social media or at interacting on policies with youngsters in Europe. It's about where we can provide added value to the work of the EPP Group in the European Parliament.

It's about where we can provide added value to the work of the EPP Group in the European Parliament

The advantage for youngsters is that we connect really easily and that the strength of our network can help both in the outreach of the Group as well as in its policy work.

About yourself: why did you become a politician? And why CD&V?

In 2007 and the years after that, Belgium got into one of its worst institutional crises ever. My country seemed to be completely stuck. Not only did I find that deplorable, I was also worried about the future of so many young Belgians: Flemish, Walloons and 'Brusseleirs' alike. That was the moment I decided to 'do my part of the duty' to give my country a better future. That was for me the starting point of a very interesting and exciting journey so far.

In 2007 and the years after that, Belgium got into one of its worst institutional crises ever. My country seemed to be completely stuck. That was the moment I decided to 'do my part of the duty' to give my country a better future.

I am glad to be on that journey in a party like CD&V. It builds on rock-solid governance experience and in-house knowledge, it has some of the most motivated young people I have seen around and it puts forward policies in which I fundamentally believe. One of them is stewardship, which I feel strongly and passionate about. A better future for those who come after, that is what we are all striving for.

What are your impressions, results in your new job so far?

My party chairman, Wouter Beke, told me at the outset that taking the seat of Marianne Thyssen, who is now Commissioner, would mean learning on the job. Actually, that advice illustrates very well my impression of the past six months in office.

The European Parliament is a place where great young people gather from all four corners of Europe: young MEPs and assistants alike give a very dynamic force to this static building. So many policies that are decided here have a great impact on the lives of so many young Europeans.

Work in the EP goes at an excitingly rapid pace and every dossier that comes into your hands is truly interesting. Together with my team, we are eager to learn as much and as quickly as possible.

I consider it a privilege also to be surrounded in the EPP family by such a variety of people, seasoned politicians and young friends that I got to know in the Youth of the European People’s Party.

What can we expect from the YMN in the near future?

The YMN will work towards supporting the EPP Group in showing more of its young face. Bringing that side of the Group to the front is my ambition in the upcoming years.

I consider the YMN as a privileged means of access for an exchange of views on policy matters with the Group leadership, European Commissioners or other stakeholders close to the EPP Group

On the one hand, I consider it my role to strengthen the network among the young members by organising training sessions for our own members and through the exchange of best practice.

On the other hand, I consider the YMN as a privileged means of access for an exchange of views on policy matters with the Group leadership, European Commissioners or other stakeholders close to the EPP Group. Who wouldn’t want to talk with the coolest bunch of our Group?

In 2045, you’ll be chairing an Old Members Network...?

…or I will have refused to give up the Chair of the Young Members’ Network and will still be doing that!

All jokes aside, my work in the Parliament is my absolute priority, to set an important party tradition of delivering good work. Aside from that, I am glad I can contribute to strengthening the EPP Group and getting youth to the forefront of people’s minds in the meantime. It is an opportunity I cannot let go by. Who knows what opportunities will arise by 2045?

We believe in people. #believeinpeople @tomvdkendelaere

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