Looking back at the last legislative term, what were the most significant achievements or challenges you faced as a young member of the European Parliament?
I think the most challenging period of this term was definitely Covid-19 adaptation here in the parliament. The period when we had to adapt the legislation in order to use cohesion funds for supporting healthcare systems in different member states to use EU funds to provide hospitals with equipment and masks and later on with medical treatment products.
The second one was again related to Covid-19, when we asked for green corridors across Europe to secure the delivery of goods freely, especially in those difficult times. So if I have to sum up, I have to say that it was a term that was so heavily affected by crises we never thought could happen, such as the war in Ukraine, the Covid pandemic, inflation, and the high prices of energy sources. So I think every colleague inside the parliament, no matter the age, was definitely challenged by the situation.
How do you think your age and generational perspective have influenced your work and decision-making in the European Parliament? Can you provide examples of issues where your perspective differed from older colleagues?
I think the age and the views are not necessarily related to each other. I believe I’m shaping my opinion not based on my age but on my experience. There are plenty of occasions when my opinion differs from one of my older colleagues, but I don't think that's because they are more experienced than me, but because they have a different experience than mine.
The general perception is that as I was born in 1988 I would easily support the green approach towards protecting the environment, but this is not the case.
I can give you an example. For instance, the general perception is that as I was born in 1988 I would easily support the green approach towards protecting the environment, but this is not the case. Probably in that perspective, I'm way more conservative than many colleagues who are way older than me, probably in the generation of my parents. So age is not the element that defines our approach when it comes to shaping our opinion, but rather our own experience which shapes us as individuals. This is what I think.
Have you encountered any obstacles or biases in the European Parliament based on your age?
Yes. I was the youngest member of the European Parliament eight years ago, and I remember that not that many people took me seriously at the very beginning. I thought it was because of my age, but later I thought that this was probably not based on my age, but on the fact that I did not prove myself with some work in the parliament. As soon as I got the chance to work with dossiers, your work, achievements, and character, speak for you. So age became less important, but definitely knowing that you are 26 in the parliament is affecting other people's opinion about you.
What are your expectations and priorities for the upcoming legislative term in the European Parliament? Are there specific issues or policies that you believe require urgent attention, especially from a youth perspective?
I think the next legislative period should listen to every part of our society way more intensively and pay attention. Sometimes I feel like we are failing in our agenda, which is good, but so many things have happened, so many occasions when people suffered and were in pain either because of Covid, the war, or inflation. And we are still stubborn saying that we have our agenda we have to follow, and we don’t care that the farmers are paying the price of the war in Ukraine because the cheap import of Ukrainian goods is going to pay even more because of the Green Deal, for instance. Because, as probably is very well known, enough colleagues who I respect voted in favour of the ban of these petrol engines in plenary, so in 10 years or less, the farmers will probably have to buy twice more expensive electric tractors, if there are any at all. This is a challenge for them.
In the next legislative term, along with this approach, I would like to say that the multiannual financial framework is one of the most important dossiers that will shape the future of the Union.
In light of recent youth-led movements and activism across Europe, such as climate strikes and social justice movements, how do you see the role of young MEPs in amplifying these concerns and translating them into policy actions at the European level?
I can only encourage youngsters to participate in any activities they consider to be important and significant. I think it is way better to participate in something, that later on you decide is not the one for you, rather than being lazy and staying home.
The classes that you take in school are probably not enough in order to advance faster in your career and personal development. So along with that, look for opportunities (which are so many).
I encourage youngsters to join, to dedicate themselves to some cause, or to take responsibility for some significant goals, but with one very crucial detail. Before starting those plans, first, take responsibility for your own life, put it in order, and then take responsibility for your family, friends, and, later on, a larger scale.
There are different types of people and age is not the one defining your participation.
How do you see the overall representation of young people in the European Parliament? What reforms or changes would you advocate for to enhance the representation and voice of young MEPs in the future?
I was 26 when I joined the parliament, and for five years I was the youngest in Europe. So there is a chance. It was not only me. Colleagues under 30 were plenty last term, and in our days one of the youngest members to join the parliament was 21 or 22, so there is a possibility. I don't think that we have to change something precisely for young people, and it is not right to believe that something is wrong today and youngsters are not interested in politics.
75 years ago, youngsters who were interested in politics were probably the same portion of the society as today, so this is like to say ‘why aren't there that many youngsters interested in becoming dentists’? Because there are different types of people and age is not the one defining your participation. To be active is completely different. You could be in an NGO or you can participate in some movements or take your energy and time to be a volunteer for some cause. It is not necessary to be a member of a party, although I encourage everyone reading this to try to explore the possibility of a political career. It’s something I would say is very decent, and it is a noble effort to be in service of your society.
The most important files Novakov worked on for the last legislative term 2019-2023:
REACT-EU in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic
The so-called Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) regarding provisions on regional funds
Report on New EU urban mobility framework
Report on large transport infrastructure projects in the EU – implementation of projects and monitoring and control of EU funds
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