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INTERVIEW with Martin Keeney, Donegal Youth Council



Martin Keeney is a Youth Worker from Donegal in Ireland with over 10 years supporting and working with young people between the ages of 12-25. He has a diverse educational background, having previously completed a BA in English in Information Studies, an MA in Journalism and a BA in Community Development. He was the coordinator of the group of 12 young people from Donegal Youth Council who have participated in the “Democracy Builders “project founded by the European Commission through the Youth in Action Program, Key Action 1.3 – Youth Democracy Projects and developed by the Romanian Youth Movement for Democracy in collaboration with <Un Zambet Association>from Bacau, Romania.

Martin Keeney offered an interview for

poze teo

– You are the representative of the Donegal Youth Council, which is the partner in the “Democracy Builders” project. Can you give us some details about the mission and vision of the Donegal Youth Council, about its structure and how it works? Also, please tell us how it is perceived by the local authorities?

The Donegal Youth Council is a group of 36 young people aged 12-18 years, who identify issues and promote projects to improve the lives of young people in Donegal. Like the adult County Councillors they are selected from five electoral areas and represent the young people in their schools, education centres and local areas. The Donegal Youth Council project aims to represent the views and opinions of the youth of Donegal, by building and strengthening links with people and organisations that impact on young people’s lives. The Youth Council regularly meet with the adult politicians of the region in a bid to influence and advise them as to what they see as real concerns and issues for young people in the region. The Youth Council are given a budget to develop projects and initiatives of their own also.

– In Romania the “Youth worker” occupation has been included in Romania’s National Code of Professions only in 2013, so it’s a quite new occupation. What does actually a youth worker means in Ireland? What qualification, skills do you need to become a youth worker?

Over the last 30 years youth work has professionalized a great deal in Ireland and it was given formal statutory recognition in the Youth Work Act 2001, which defines youth work as:

A planned programme of education designed for the purpose of aiding and enhancing the personal and social development of young people through their voluntary involvement, and which is complementary to their formal, academic or vocational education and training and provided primarily by voluntary youth work organisations.

Youth work is above all an educational and developmental process, based on young people’s active and voluntary participation and commitment. It is often defined as ‘non-formal education’. Youth work is for all young people, with particular focus on those aged 10 to 25 from all aspects of Irish life, urban, rural, all nationalities and social classes. Youth work is provided primarily by voluntary organisations, with statutory support from the Department of Education and Science and the Vocational Education Committees.

– The Democracy Builders seminar had recently ended. How will you describe this experience for you, as a youth worker? What about for your group? Do you think the activities in this seminar had an impact on the participants?

The experience was really fascinating. As a youth worker I really enjoyed visiting projects and viewing the work and finding out more about the methodology and nature of the work they engage in and also the large number of those volunteering time to help support and develop young people in the region. From a participant point of view our young people were challenged to think “outside the box” and also were challenged in their own beliefs and attitudes. Through the workshops they got a great feel for the different ways activism can happen and one young person from the group has already expressed a strong interest in developing a youth work career, citing her experience as something which has really been a huge factor in encouraging her to do so.

– Can you tell us the history of the “Democracy Builders” project and why a project for the youth in the field of participatory democracy?

The Democracy Builders project happened through a partnership that was developed between the Co-ordinator of Donegal Youth Council and director of RYMD at a partner finding seminar in Dublin, Ireland in May 2013. Both organizations realized they shared a similar vision in their work and wanted to explore doing a project together, which would involve young people from both countries exploring ways of increasing the participation of young people in both voting and participatory democracy. This led to the groups exploring the possibility of doing a Youth Democracy Project together through the then Youth in Action programme and thankfully an application to the Romanian National Agency proved successful.

– How will you describe the relationship between the promoters of the “Democracy Builders” project?

The relationship has been really positive, with a real sense of shared experience and responsibility. I have been lucky to meet some wonderful people who could not do enough to make our trip to Romania one that would last in the memory for a very long time.

– What do you think that was the Irish youth opinion about Romania before this project? What about your opinion? Do you believe that a series of stereotypes were countered?

There is no doubt in Ireland there are negative stereotypes about Romania and Romanian people and this is something that we discussed at length before departing on the trip. I think a lot of these stereotypes were debunked greatly through the trip, as young people were able to talk about and develop a better understanding of Romanian culture and also get a feel for the large scale unemployment in the country, and how this has left so many with no choice but to migrate. They were also able to gain a better understanding of Roma culture, as people don’t always realize that the Roma make up such a small percentage of the overall Romanian population. We found the Romanian people to be welcoming and warm with us and wanted to show us and educate us about the positive aspects of their country.

Thank you!





AmCham: Romania’s capital market upgrade to emerging market status sends a positive signal to investors



AmCham Romania joins private partners and the authorities in welcoming Romania’s upgrade to secondary market status by FTSE Russell, the world leader in stock market indexes classification. This marks the achievement of a shared strategic goal pursued with dedication by the private stakeholders and regulatory authorities alike.

“AmCham Romania primarily focuses on supporting initiatives that contribute to increasing the investment flows in Romania, such as the upgrade of the capital market. The promotion by FTSE Russell sends a positive signal towards the investors’ community, but is also an encouragement for all parties involved so far in making this goal a reality to continue their collaboration, which remains as necessary after this long-awaited moment. The upgrade to emerging market opens Romania’s access to significantly higher investment flows and allows us to play in a higher league. This comes in a context of global economic turmoil, which can only send a positive signal to current and potential investors and is expected to have a multiplier effect on the economy” said Ionuț Simion, AmCham Romania President. 

Romania’s qualification for secondary emerging market status, after a three-year monitoring period, announced in September 2019 and applicable from September 2020, confirms the removal of barriers and improvements in the quality of trading infrastructure and of the regulatory framework.

“I would like to reiterate that the success we welcome today proves that through partnership and cooperation we can achieve positive results for the economy at large. At the same time, it holds all of us responsible to remain committed towards the immediate objectives for the Romanian capital market, such as upgrade to emerging market status by MSCI. Midterm, in AmCham’s vision, the development of the capital market should focus on meeting the next level of performance needed to qualify as primary emerging market, and eventually, the upgrade to developed market status. In this regard, we will strongly support the need for state-owned enterprises to be listed, which in addition to the benefits of attracting capital inflows, will create the framework for consolidating their corporate governance. The development of the capital market will also need measures to incentivize the listing of private companies, as a means to diversify their financing sources, which requires both vision and a favorable, stable legislative and fiscal framework, for which we rely on the involvement of the responsible authorities”, pointed Cristian Agalopol, Chair of the AmCham Romania Capital Markets and Financial Services Committee.

FTSE Russel performs an annual review of the countries’ classification in the four categories – developed markets, advanced emerging, secondary emerging and frontier, by analyzing 21 criteria that are related to the regulative framework, custody and settlement, dealing landscape, derivatives.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Romania (AmCham Romania) is for over 25 years a leading representative of the business community in Romania, and is acknowledged as a promoter of the private-public dialogue on matters related to the business climate, public policies that impact Romania’s economy and competitiveness or the economic ties between Romania and the U.S.

Currently, AmCham Romania’s over 450 members – U.S., international and Romanian companies allow AmCham to engage in promoting the business priorities for many industries, through dedicated working groups, such as: Capital Markets & Financial Services, Corporate Governance, Competition and State-Aid, Education, Energy, Environment, Health, Digital Economy, Labor, Structural Funds, Public Procurement and PPP, Real Estate, Taxation and Tourism.

AmCham Romania’s connection with the international business is granted by its accreditation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliation to AmChams in Europe. In Romania, AmCham enjoys a great institutional collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest and is a member and contributor to Coaliţia pentru Dezvoltarea României, the informal consultation platform supported by business associations that share the same objectives.

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Presidents of Romania, Lithuania and Poland: We state our will to support the people of Belarus in building a democratic path



© Administrația Prezidențială

The President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda, and the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, state their will, in a joint statement, to support the people of Belarus in building a democratic path and appeal to the international community to join the EU and its member states in the demarche of preparing a positive agenda for Belarus, together with a package of support for the political, economic and social transition of the country.

“We, the Presidents of Lithuania, Poland and Romania, as member states of the European Union: supporting firmly liberty and the promotion of democratic principles, emphasizing that free, fair and transparent elections are a fundamental democratic right of any nation, admitting as legitimate the results of the elections only if they are organized in agreement with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and are monitored internationally, explicitly admitting that no one but the people of Belarus has the right to decide the destiny of their country, reassuring on our respect for such a decision made on legitimate bases, understanding that a prosperous Belarus, built on social trust and a common vision, is essential for a more stable and safer Europe, we declare our will to support the people of Belarus in building a democratic path, through a state leadership which is democratically elected, a free civil society, free market and the rule of law,” shows the statement of the three heads of states.

The joint statement titled “Proposal for a democratic Belarus” is available here.

The three heads of state show that they offer expertise and know-how for the path of political and economic reforms, to build independent institutions and to ensure an environment where respect for human rights and freedom of expression are an unshakeable fundamental norm of society.

They believe that, in the demarche to support the people of Belarus, it’s useful for the European Union – as a major global economic power – propose a package of assistance for the economic transformation of a democratic Belarus which should include, inter alia: the facilitation of commerce with the European Union and assistance for accession negotiations with the World Trade Organization; a liberalized visa regime, when the necessary conditions are met; assistance to diversify the energy sector and for the energy security of Belarus; access to financial resources to restructure and relaunch the liberal economy of Belarus; increased presence and activity of the international financial institutions to reform the economy of Belarus and to increase investment.

“We address an appeal to the international community to join the European Union and its member states in the demarche of preparing a positive agenda for Belarus, together with a package of support for the political, economic and social transition of the country”, the three presidents concluded.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: EU must create solid programs in order to rebuild the labor market



©Vasile Blaga/ Facebook

MEP Vasile Blaga, a member of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, stresses that the European Union must create solid programs for consolidating and rebuilding the labor market after the COVID-19 period.

“Economic data for the second quarter of 2020 show a worrying decline in the labor market across the European Union. In Romania, the number of closed employment contracts has increased alarmingly – we are approaching one million closed employment contracts, and the number of closed contracts on 15 July is double compared to 1st June 2020. The most affected sectors are manufacturing and it is possible that in the next period we will see a massive increase in contracts in the hospital industry, still affected by the restrictions generated by the pandemic “, said the MEP for Calea Europeană media platform.

According to the Liberal MEP, protecting jobs must be the number one priority for the European Union.

“It is clear that the European Union must be massively concerned with protecting existing jobs and financially stimulating the creation of new ones ”, he added.

Private sector employment must also be a priority for the European Commission: “Direct funding through various forms of private sector employment must be a priority for the Commission in the next period, complemented by the stimulation of sectors severely affected by pandemic – the hospitality industry and the arts and entertainment sector are a priority in this regard “, said the EPP MEP Vasile Blaga.

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