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've encountered both remarkable achievements and significant challenges. The age dynamics within the parliament have been a prominent issue. I personally felt that it can be challenging because not everyone takes younger MEPs seriously.
One of the most notable achievements during this term was the adoption of the EU4Health program in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the reinforcement of crisis preparedness in the EU, back in 2021. This programme, with a budget of €5.3bn for the 2021-27 period, represented unprecedented EU financial support in the health area. I was fortunate to be one of the negotiators for this crucial file. I also felt that my background as a medical doctor in public health validated my contributions, which were based on scientific evidence, more than only looking at the political perspective. Its adoption underscored the growing recognition of health as a pivotal issue within the European Parliament.
Another source of pride for me during this term is currently being the main rapporteur for the own-initiative report on mental health, a significant stance taken on an issue that is increasingly affecting young people in the European Union. This report represents a pioneering effort within the European Parliament, focusing solely on mental health for the first time.
However, the biggest challenge I would say is to have a more political perspective alongside a technical one. The fact that you work with different political groups, not all of them having the same opinion and values, and even some of them being against the European Union, makes things harder. That is more difficult than being just young.
It is crucial for the European Parliament to place a renewed emphasis on enhancing mental health support, particularly for young people who are increasingly affected by mental health challenges.
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?
The Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly triggered a digital revolution, revealing that many of the reforms we had been advocating for in the Young Europeans group, made up of MEPs from pro-European groups, were indeed feasible. This demonstrated that the European Parliament has the capacity to embrace a more digital approach, incorporating hybrid alternatives. It reaffirmed that our ideas were not mere figments of imagination, but attainable objectives. Nonetheless, progress remains gradual, largely because the established procedural mechanisms within the institution need adequate time for change.
Have you encountered any obstacles or biases in the European Parliament based on your age?
Yes, all the time. I've encountered some obstacles in the European Parliament related to my age. These challenges often manifested in situations where my identity wasn't immediately recognised, mistaken me as an assistant. My personal style tends to be relaxed, and this can sometimes trigger judgments or assumptions. But these perceptions do not bother me, unless it hinders my work.
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?
Anticipating the upcoming legislative term in the European Parliament, I find myself looking towards critical challenges that will shape the future of the European Union. The growth of the extreme rightwing, the future of the climate transition and the growing burden of the rising cost of living will be some of the challenges.
Climate change stands as an emergency, and it disproportionately affects the future of the younger generation. The young activists have underscored the necessity for more ambitious climate policies. It is my hope that the European Parliament will continue to proactively address climate change, building upon initiatives such as the Green Deal.
Furthermore, it is crucial for the European Parliament to place a renewed emphasis on enhancing mental health support, particularly for young people who are increasingly affected by mental health challenges.
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?
In the context of recent youth-led movements and activism across Europe, the role of young MEPs takes on great significance — we serve as their voice.
Our responsibility goes beyond mere representation. We see ourselves (those that come from pro-EU groups) as intermediaries between the passionate voices of the youth and the corridors of European Parliament, moving towards tangible policy actions at the European level, closing the gaps.
We must focus on working tirelessly to ensure that their concerns are not only heard but also acted upon to shape a better and more inclusive future for all.
As we strive for a more integrated European Union, it becomes increasingly important to engage with and include the voices of young people.
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?
Quotas are only necessary until they are not. The average age in the European Union stands at 44, and it is essential that our representatives reflect this diversity in age. This ensures that the needs and perspectives of various generations are considered in policy making.
In advocating for a more robust representation of young MEPs in the future, we must recognise the significance of their continued presence in the European Parliament. As we strive for a more integrated European Union, it becomes increasingly important to engage with and include the voices of young people. The rising levels of abstention, particularly among young voters, underscore the urgency of this matter. By integrating young MEPs into the decision-making process, we can help build a more cohesive European Union where no citizen feels left behind.
Ultimately, the European project is about unity and collective progress, and this can only be achieved by involving all generations in shaping its future.
The most important files Cerdas worked on for the last legislative term 2019-2023: