The European Youth Parliament (EYP) grew from a small school project in 1987 in Fontainebleau in France to the largest network for political debate, intercultural exchange and civic education for young people in Europe. It was initially a school project at the Lycée François-Pier in Fountainebleau and was founded by two teachers Laurent Grégoire and Bettina Carr-Allinson. Now, the European Youth Parliament is present in 40 countries across Europe and involves more than 30.000 young people and 3.500 volunteers yearly. Since 1987, the European Youth Parliament has reached more than 200.000 young people through its activities. Its operations are coordinated from the International Office located in Berlin, Germany.
Foundation of EYP Belgium
In 1993, EYP Belgium was formally established, but activities were already ongoing since 1990. EYP Belgium was founded by Helga De Pauw, a teacher at the Sint-Bavohumaniora in Ghent. She was the President of EYP Belgium from 1993 until her departure in 2007 when students took over the organisation. She remains until now the longest sitting President of EYP Belgium.
In 1996, EYP Belgium was officially recognised as one of the first National Committees within the network of the EYP. Back then, the official name of the organisation was EYP-Europolis Belgium. It highlighted the important role that the Europolis Conferences played in the organisation.
In the 2000s, EYP Belgium hosted three conferences in the European Parliament each year. EYP Belgium was at this point mostly run by a group of teachers and alumni. Helga De Pauw eventually stepped down as President due to the ever-changing nature of the project in 2007. EYP Belgium evolved into a project organised for youth by youth. so Helga De Pauw passed the torch to a new generation who became in charge of keeping the project alive in Belgium.
In the 2010s, EYP Belgium saw an increase in members and the number of conferences it hosted. At its peak in 2018, EYP Belgium hosted six conferences (one National Selection Conference, two Europolis Conferences, two Regional Conferences and one International Forum) and was thus able to involve more than 600 students. In the same year, EYP Belgium marked its 25th anniversary which was celebrated in the Madmum Coffee Roasters & Bar in Leuven.
In the 2020s, EYP Belgium had to halt its activities due to the pandemic and held its conferences online. Leuven 2020 was the last National Selection Conference to be held before the start of the pandemic. EYP Belgium resumed its on-site activities with hosting two conferences, the Benelux Youth Forum and Lier 2021.