The European institutions have developed a pathway dedicated to the participation of young people in the society of which they are part. Objectives and resources to help girls and boys become aware adults. And 2022 has become the Year of Youth: €8 million worth of activities funded by the Erasmus+ programmes and the European Solidarity Corps to develop the active citizenship of the future
A strategy for young people in the European Union. Or, in other words, a way forward for their democratic participation and their becoming aware adult citizens of the societies of which they are part. This is the essence of the strategy that the EU has developed for youth and wants young people to engage with and become citizens who actively participate in democracy and society.
The EU Youth Strategy is the framework for European-level collaboration on youth policies in the period 2019-2027 to maximise the potential of youth policies, promote young people’s participation in democratic life, support their social and civic engagement and aim to ensure that all young people have the necessary resources to take part in the society in which they live.
11 European objectives for young people
The EU Youth Strategy focuses on three key areas of action: mobilising, connecting and empowering. By mobilising, the EU Youth Strategy aims at a meaningful civic, economic, social, cultural and political participation of young people. By connecting, the Commission emphasises that young Europeans are increasingly connected. Connections, relationships and exchange of experiences are key resources for solidarity and the future development of the European Union. The best way to promote these connections is through different forms of mobility. Finally, empowering the EU means encouraging young people to take charge of their own lives. Today, young people all over Europe face various challenges and youth work in all its forms can act as a catalyst for empowerment.
During a series of dialogues conducted between 2017 and 2018 involving young people from all over Europe, 11 European youth goals were developed. These objectives identify cross-cutting issues that affect young people’s lives and represent challenges. And the EU Youth Strategy should contribute to realising the youth vision.
The 11 objectives are connecting the EU and youth; gender equality; inclusive societies; information and constructive dialogue; mental health and well-being; support for young people in rural areas; quality jobs for all; quality learning; space and participation for all; sustainable green Europe; youth organisations and European programmes.
The EU Youth Strategy should contribute to realising this vision for young people by mobilising policy instruments at the European level and fostering action at the national, regional and local levels by all relevant stakeholders. Indeed, the EU Youth Strategy makes use of different tools, such as mutual learning activities, planners of future national activities, the EU Youth Dialogue, the EU Youth Strategy Platform and evidence-based tools. The European Commission’s contact and visible point of reference for young people in the EU Youth Coordinator.
The EU Youth Work Plan 2019-2021 includes several activities: an expert group on indicators; an expert group on cross-border solidarity; peer learning activities on cross-sectoral approaches in youth work; a study to propose a toolkit for local youth policies; an expert group on a rights-based approach to youth policies; peer learning activities on multi-level governance and participation; peer learning exercise on digital youth work; peer learning activities on national solidarity activities; peer learning activities on innovative ways of funding youth work.
The Youth Strategy thus incorporates the decision of the European Commission to make 2022 the European Year of Youth. As announced by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in her State of the Union address 2021, 2022 is designated as the European Year of Youth.
What does the European Year of Young People mean?
European Year of Youth means that during 2022 the Commission will coordinate a series of activities in close contact with the European Parliament, Member States, regional and local authorities, youth organisations and young people themselves. The initiatives will benefit from the support of € 8 million from Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps, a special compliment for the European Year of Youth decided by the budgetary authority for 2022. Other EU programmes and instruments will also contribute significantly to the objectives and activities of the Year. Young Europeans will benefit from many opportunities to acquire knowledge, skills and competencies for their professional development and to strengthen their civic engagement in shaping Europe’s future.
To honour, support and involve young people at all levels, the European Year of Youth will pursue four objectives Renew the positive outlook for young people, with a focus on the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on them, while highlighting how the green and digital transitions and other Union policies offer opportunities to young people and society at large; support young people, including through youth work, in particular young people with fewer opportunities, from disadvantaged and heterogeneous backgrounds or belonging to vulnerable and marginalised groups, to acquire relevant knowledge and skills and thus become active and engaged citizens, inspired by a sense of belonging to Europe; Help young people gain a better understanding of the various opportunities available to them and actively promote them, whether at European, national, regional or local level, to support their personal, social, economic and professional development. Integrate youth policies into all relevant EU policy areas, in line with the EU Youth Strategy 2019 – 2027, to foster the integration of a youth perspective at all levels of policymaking.
The Commission highlighted that for the Year of Youth to be successful, it is important to shape it together with the people who will benefit most from it. Young people and youth organisations are also closely involved in the organisation of the Year. An online survey was conducted from 22 October to 21 November to gather expectations and suggestions. A report on the survey shows that almost 5 000 responses were received from all Member States. The majority of respondents (58.8%) said they would like to contribute actively to the European Year of Youth.
The Year will also be linked to the Conference on the Future of Europe, in which young people play a pivotal role. One-third of each European citizens’ panel is made up of young people, aged between 16 and 25, and an equal percentage of young people are among the panel ambassadors, who deliver recommendations to the plenary sessions of the Conference and debate with Members of the European Parliament, national politicians, Commissioners and other plenary members representing EU bodies and civil society. The President of the European Youth Forum is also a member of the plenary session of the Conference.
“By proclaiming 2022 the European Year of Youth, we support young Europeans in defending and promoting freedom, values, opportunities and solidarity. We owe this to the generations who have suffered the most during the pandemic and who now have to take their lives back into their own hands”, commented Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting a European Lifestyle.
“We all understand the importance of putting young people at the forefront and celebrating their resilience after two very challenging years. I invite all young Europeans to participate in the many events, initiatives and actions planned from January 2022 onwards,” Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, continued. “We want them to make their voices heard and guide the decisions we take for their future. We hope that this year will result in concrete actions that will last well beyond 2022. Together, we will make this year a success,” he stressed.
Giulia Torbidoni – TNC