Soft power of diplomacy from Young European Ambassadors

08 Junho 2022

The YEAs initiative is a non-political, voluntary, vibrant communication network connecting and building bridges of friendship among young people from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and the EU Member States and the United Kingdom.

The aim of the network is to raise awareness about the EU’s cooperation with its Eastern partner countries, showcase the tangible results of this cooperation, contribute to policy dialogue on various topics, help increase civic activism and work together for a better future.

The YEAs initiative was created by the European Union in 2016 and has involved more than a thousand young people to date. There are currently 500+ active YEAs representing over 34 different nationalities.


How to become Young European Ambassadors?

You need to wait for official announcement of the EU NEIGHBOURS  communication channels. It happens once a year during the call for applications, which will normally happen in autumn. 

What are the eligibility criteria?

  • You are a citizen of one of the European Union Member States, the UK or one of the six Eastern partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova or Ukraine);

  • You are between 16 and 26 years old;

  • You have a good level of English;

  • You are interested in EU affairs and the partnership and cooperation between the EU and your country;

  • You are interested in public diplomacy and outreach activities, and are ready to share knowledge, experience and information;

  • You are motivated in contributing to the development of your community and country;

  • You are interested in voluntary activities and ready to dedicate sufficient time to be part of civic engagement activities.

How long does the process take to become a Young European Ambassador?

After the call for applications is closed, there are a few more steps to follow, which require further input from the candidates. Selected candidates will be invited to an interview, and afterwards, those who successfully pass the interview will be invited to provide additional information and as a final step, their profiles will be sent for further approval (to the official stakeholders). The process from the date when the call for applications is closed until the final results takes approximately eight weeks.

How many Young European Ambassadors will be selected during each intake?

There is no clearly defined quota for the number of participants during the selection.

That is why the most active and motivated are always welcome.

If you will be 16 very soon. Can you still apply to become a Young European Ambassador?

If you will be 16 within one month of expressing your interest in becoming a Young European Ambassador, then you are able to apply. Please note that selected candidates aged 16-17 will be exclusively eligible for online engagement and local activities in their respective countries, not for international travel.

What happens once you turn 27 as a YEA?

One of the determining factors of this initiative is its youth-focused approach through a network of YEAs in a similar age range. The YEAs initiative has from its inception been designed for young people aged between 16 and 26, and the majority of our civic engagement activities target youth within this age range. After an individual Young European Ambassador turns 27, they will no longer be a YEA and therefore will be unable to participate in/launch any civic engagement activity or participate in international events with the programme. They will also be removed from the official communication and respective chats. However, everyone, whatever their age, has the opportunity to continue supporting the initiative in a new role by becoming a mentor, a trainer or an EU4Youth Alumni. The EU NEIGHBOURS east team and Young European Ambassadors in-Country Coordinators will discuss these options with the prospective candidates on an individual basis.The initiative do this to maintain the overall character of this initiative and offer the YEA experience to as many young people as possible across the EaP region, in the EU and UK. The programme and its YEAs initiative will continue to keep in touch with the former YEAs in their future endeavours as young professionals and leaders of their communities.

For you to know more on how this initiative works in practice, me - Liuda Nikitina - will tell you my experience of participation in this initiative.

To put it simply, YEAs are young people who are interested in the cooperation between the EU and the partnership countries and its aim is to develop their own country by strengthening international cooperation. Ukrainian youth has experience in international projects and programs and wants to share their experience with young people from all over Ukraine and around the world and support the desire to explore the world, among others, as well as establish contacts with young people from the EU and Eastern Partnership countries.


However, to become a YEAs, you have to go through a difficult but interesting selection process, because your actions need to show that you are interested in EU-Partnership cooperation: conduct research on this topic, organize and participate in thematic events, seminars, schools, discussions, etc. That is, how your interest in the EU and EU-Ukraine cooperation is expressed in your actions. How you show your interest is only a question of your level of creativity. For me, such creativity was the adaptation and implementation of the EU experience in the field of non-formal education, tolerance and no hate speach movement in the form of a creative project - "Human Library" - and participation in competitions and projects of the EU Delegation.

I remember that in 2019, 1,000 people applied to become YEAs, but in 2020 Ukraine had only 130 ambassadors, which indicates that the project has a high level of competition (and the whole international network includes more than 700 participants). However, active program participants have the opportunity to retain their ambassadorial mandate for next year, and so every year the number of program participants only increases.

Today, the initiative is a powerful network that connects young people from the EU and the Eastern Partnership, giving them the ability to communicate and the opportunity to cooperate to achieve their goals. On a daily basis, these young people learn more about the partnerships between the Eastern Partnership countries and the EU personally through diplomatic services, they share experiences and opportunities with the younger generation and develop international relations with young people.

I have always positioned myself as an active person who knows and can change the society around me. She participated in various social initiatives, and eventually began to organize their own.

And in 2018 she became one of the YEAs in Ukraine. Before that, I was interested in the issues of Ukraine's economic cooperation with the EU countries, educational opportunities, and I was eager for the opportunity to learn from the experience or simply expand my understanding of the EU and partner countries.

But participating in the initiative has changed my life, at least because I have made many friends and acquaintances who study international relations in European universities, political science, international relations, economics and international cooperation, or work in government agencies and offices to promote reforms. Of course, it affected me as well.

Frankly speaking, I did not study abroad, I have no relatives there and no acquaintances there. However, the opportunity to communicate with interesting people from the Eastern Partnership countries in more informal and focused appeared after joining the network of YEAs.

Of course, I have organized and participated in many events held in Kharkiv and internationally. But here I will share only a few bright pages from the life of an ambassador. Because the rest of the pages include training in event planning, generating ideas for various information and advocacy campaigns, and systematic management of social networks.

Periodically, we have the opportunity to participate in various thematic events (conferences, trainings, forums) of the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries, which are held in the EU and others.

I had the opportunity to take part in the Eastern European Network for Citizenship Education forum, which took place in Batumi on October 4-6, 2019.

For me, participating in the conference was an opportunity to meet fellow ambassadors from other countries - Moldova and Belarus. It was an opportunity at the international level to delve into the topics that interest me and deepen knowledge, experience, best practices and a clear understanding of non-formal education. And of course it's an opportunity to explore other cultures.

One of the most valuable arguments for me was the opportunity to organize a local event in Kharkiv at the national level.

We set ourselves the task of showing young people the diversity of opportunities that the EU opens up, and to show that young people want to make decisions about their own lives on their own, to determine for themselves what will be best for them.


We were thinking for a long time about a concept and format that would suit the younger generation so that it is easy, interesting, unobtrusive and accessible. So we decided to organize a living library - a format of events - informal meetings with interesting people. At the first time this concept was used at the Ziget festival to motivate people to communicate more.

Another important aspect of personal and motivational growth in this initiative is the opportunity to gain skills in a new or desired area for me. I am glad for the opportunity to develop telegrams of the channel about youth opportunities from the YEAs, which made me develop communication skills and think about how to use them further.

We have created a telegram channel in which the Young European Ambassadors talk about opportunities, projects, competitions and opportunities for self-development.

In this Chanel you can find:

  • Interesting events from the world, Europe, Ukraine. There is already information about the Euromarathon, and there will be more about career days in the cities of Ukraine, visits to missions, forums, discussions, etc.;

  • Youth initiatives, actions, competitions;

  • Erasmus exchanges and training;

  • Information on programs and projects implemented jointly with the European Union.

So far, this is the quintessence of useful material for young people who are interested in what is happening in the world and seek to achieve positive change in society and in their lives — soft diplomacy.

In conclusion, participation in long-term projects, especially Young European Ambassadors, add endurance, builds courage and confidence, develops systematically and deeply communication skills and soft skills, awakens an unrealistically strong desire to learn European languages, gain new expertise, self-confidence and a dignified future for Ukraine.

This year's activities from the representation are online, so subscribe to EU Neighbors East's and EU Neighbors South  Instagram. And move with us, because the next call is just around the corner, and it is important not to miss it.

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