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Monthly overview – summer 2014

July 30, 2014

Dear Member Organisations,

This is the summer edition, this time combining May, June and July, of the monthly update in 2014 that I send out as President of the European Youth Forum (YFJ) in order to communicate to you on what we as the YFJ Board have been doing over the past weeks, particularly after the spring Council of Members and Extraordinary General Assembly (COMEM/exGA).

The weeks and months since the spring Council of Members and extraordinary General Assembly of the Youth Forum in Brussels were very intense with plenty of events and important changes happening within the Secretariat. We have experienced an excellent European Youth Event and YO!Fest and it couldn’t have been a better testimony of the work done by our outgoing Secretary-General Giuseppe Porcaro who after serving the Forum for almost a decade in various roles now moved on to new challenges.

We have witnessed the European Parliament (EP) elections and exciting follow-up in which an important step for future democracy at European Union (EU) level was achieved with the nomination of the Commission President based on the elections winner and candidate endorsed by the European Parliament. We ensured that youth was high on the agenda and helped organize the first ever EU presidential debate for which the Forum can be very proud of. Among others, this gave important recognition to our work with the League of Young Voters.

End of May the Forum has welcomed the newly elected Secretary-General Allan Päll who quickly got to terms with the numerous responsibilities and demonstrated his quality already at the third Board meeting that took place in Vilnius, Lithuania (13-15 June) and kindly hosted by the Lithuanian National Youth Council (LiJOT), who also hosted the Youth Forum Academy – again a big thanks for being such great hosts: ačiū!

In the period of June and July, the Board and Secretariat were also busy preparing a first draft for a new work plan of the European Youth Forum for 2015-2016 and we would like to thank all member organisations that were active by sending in their feedback and comments. In September the Forum will launch a second consultation, which includes an opportunity to meet face to face on 13th in Brussels.

Moreover, the Board would like to acknowledge the excellent work done by our outgoing Secretariat members, especially Vania Freitas on UN and Global Affairs, Antoine Mertzeisen on Council of Europe and EU affairs, Bianca Faragau on Structured Dialogue and Matthias Christensen on Youth Work and wish them all the best in their future careers.

Here is a briefing based on the three chapters of our work-plan and in cases where there is no update please feel free to contact the Board members responsible for the area for the most recent insights.

Chapter I Youth Participation includes the following areas of our work for 2013-14: European elections & League of Young Voters (LYV), European Youth Capital & local participation, vote@16, global & regional cooperation, as well as citizenship education and all our institutional relations with the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations (UN).

European elections & LYV: The combined event between European Youth Event (EYE) and YO!Fest was held in the beginning of May in Strasbourg. The event gathered around 10000 participants from all over Europe and the combination of YO!Fest and the EYE resulted in a effective mix of policy discussions with concrete demands and an atmosphere full new ideas and hope. The YFJ managed in an efficient way to communicate its strong presence and political demands, which will be presented to the Parliament groups and sessions in autumn. The media visibility from the EYE was very good and the response from the participants was largely positive. The report of the event has been published on the Youth Forum website.

The League of Young Voters has been rolling in full speed for the last months with many activities happening on local, national and European level. Among the highlights was the televised debate between the candidates for commission president, organized together with Euronews and Maastricht University. The League was also very visible during the EYE and had a visible spot in the Euronews election night programme. The work with the League has to a large extent been realized on the national levels and a huge thank you goes to everyone who has been active with the LYV! Now is time for evaluation of the work done for which the Youth Forum has launched a call for a study on the voting behaviour of young people. The League is furthermore coordinating and planning actions for a number of national elections, evaluating what the role of the European League could be.

The LoveYouthFuture (LYF) campaigned last month with efforts to gather signatures from candidates for the EP resulting in 240 candidates signing up to the LYF pledges! Of these, 86 were elected as Members of European Parliament (MEP) and now the cooperation and dialogue with the newly elected MEPs is being built and continued. On the top of the agenda is to get support for the formation of a new intergroup on youth in the Parliament and to communicate the LYF message not only to the MEPs that already signed the pledges – more information can be found here. The YFJ has also recently made a statement condemning the rise of the extreme-right, as well as that of populist and anti-European parties in the new European Parliament (click here).

Vote@16: In May the forum participated at a vote@16 conference hosted by Estonian National Youth Council ENL. Different experts and young people spoke about the topic as well as representatives from all the major Estonian political parties. The Forum spoke about the necessity to lower to voting age and provided different examples of campaigns from other European countries. As we have seen in a number of countries in Europe, it appears the momentum to lower the voting age to 16 is also building up in Estonia as a bill by Members of Parliament of government parties was submitted to Parliament,

European Youth Capital (EYC): The network of European Youth Capitals (N-EYC) was established in Maribor, during a meeting on 29-30 May 2014 with the aim of further institutionalising and formalising the contacts between former, current and future capitals. The Forum has welcomed such a development and hopes that the network will secure a space for Youth Capitals to exchange good practices and deepen their cooperation.

The pre-selected cities in their bid for EYC2017 have had time until 29 June 2014 to submit more detailed applications for assessment by the Jury and the Focus Group. The Focus Group is made up of young people who have previously been involved in EYC and came together on 19-20 July 2014 in Thessaloniki. Sadly one applicant – Newcastle, England – informed the Forum that they will not be able to continue their bid due to the inability to further meet the requirements and the recent austerity measures put in place by the municipal council.

Africa-Europe Youth Cooperation: Following the Africa-Europe Heads of State Summit in March-April, the discussion outcomes are now feeding into the discussions and negotiations towards a Youth Facility for the next Africa-EU partnership. As the current action plan is active until 2015, the permanent partners of the Africa-Europe Youth Platform are discussing the next steps, with special focus on the African University of Youth and Development. Informal meetings with some of the African partners took place at the World Conference on Youth in Sri Lanka.

Euro-Arab Youth Cooperation: The Mediterranean University on Youth and Global Citizenship (MedUni) took place in Hammamet, Tunisia from 2nd-9th June and focused on “Youth Opportunities,” in particular on the participation of young people in democratic processes. Read more here.

EU and Structured Dialogue: The Informal Forum happened on 20 May with participation of the Youth Ministers and youth representatives from Lithuania, Greece, Italy and Latvia and European Commission represented by the Director General for DG Education and Culture Jan Truszczynski who focused on the topic of youth entrepreneurship. More specifically, the discussions touched upon ways in which youth entrepreneurship could be supported and promoted among young people and addressed the key role of youth organisations in this field.

Following the Informal Forum on a final meeting of the Team Presidency Ireland-Lithuania-Greece took place focusing on evaluation of the third cycle of structured dialogue. The meeting aimed at transferring the experiences and good practices to the incoming European Steering Committee (ESC). After that on 21-22 May the hand-over ESC meeting took place where the outgoing ESC and the incoming ESC met and shared their expectations and questions. The outgoing ESC prepared a special hand-over document that will assist the next trio presidencies in their work.

Following this, the Youth Forum had a meeting with the incoming Team Presidency and the European Commission – in the framework of the incoming European Steering Committee – on 22nd May in Brussels to discuss the draft Implementation Plan for the 4th cycle of structured dialogue. The Implementation plan is now adopted and was sent to all national working groups. The new ESC has started its work following the entry of Italy in holding the presidency for the Council of the EU. The invitation to the Youth Conference in Rome has also been issued and Youth Forum has also launched a call for participants from International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations to take part.

Moreover, the Forum participated and spoke at a structured dialogue panel during the 15th German Child and Youth Welfare Congress (DJHT) in Berlin, Germany. The National Youth Council in Germany, DNK hosted this panel to provide a cross-sectional view of this very important process.

United Nations: In preparation for various UN events like the UN General Assembly, High Level Political Forum and UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD), the Forum hosted the annual UN advocacy training on 27-29 June. 25 representatives of the European Youth Forum’s members, including official youth delegates to the United Nations (UN), gathered in Brussels. This meeting enabled Member Organisations to more effectively engage in the UN system and its different policies, programmes and initiatives.

It is essential for youth delegates to identify the common priorities and joint advocacy goals towards the UN. This will particularly help to develop a joint strategy for advocacy in the next session of the UN General Assembly and to strengthen the cooperation among youth delegates and non-governmental organisations’ representatives to the General Assembly.

The promotion of the further engagement of young people and youth organisations in the UN system and their participation at the UN General Assembly and other relevant UN meetings is at the heart of the work carried out by the European Youth Forum in the scope of its institutional relations with the UN.

During this UN advocacy meeting, participants had the chance to discuss how youth could be more engaged in the UN system. It was also a good opportunity to discuss how young people can be more involved with the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY), the definition and implementation of the Post-2015 sustainable development agenda and the further promotion of the rights of young people.

Chapter II Strong Youth Organisationsconsists of the following main areas: funding for youth work, volunteering, youth work development, youth work capacity building & growth, youth work policy & research as well as EEC & SEE related focus and topics.

Youth Work: In the last two months, two events related to the policy paper on youth work took place; first a round table during the EYE event and an external experts meeting on 26 June. It was two productive moments with lots of inputs from outside YFJ that will enhance the policy paper and really helped to recognise what youth work bring into the society and why it is crucial. A call of best practices on youth work has also been launched to use them afterwards to illustrate our campaign. Board and Secretariat are using these reflections to prepare a next draft of the policy paper, which will be tabled for adoption at the General Assembly in November.

Erasmus+: We have also been engaged with reflecting on the implementation of the Erasmus+ programme, especially in looking forward to discussing improvements to the Programme Guide of Erasmus+ over the autumn.

One success story is the continuation of administrative grants to youth organisations, which benefits our international members, as few years ago administrative grants were in the danger of being cut from the programme. We also gathered feedback from international member organisations and have submitted our proposals to the Commission, including calling for simpler application process and more clarity about different funding streams as well as for flat rate funding based on a minimum number of staff or statutory meetings.

However, much remains to be analysed and improved in every aspect of Erasmus+ since not all funding streams are open nor have all national agencies signed contracts with the European Commission. Youth Forum is happy to receive all and any kind of input on how the programme could be improved from members thus feel free to be in touch with the Board or the Secretariat on this.

Youth Forum Academy: Youth Forum Academy gathered member organisations in June in Vilnius, kindly hosted by LiJOT. The Academy included trainings and meetings on advocacy training, rights based approach, training on funding, Membership Growth Project, networks of communications and secretary-generals and the pool of trainers. Academy has grown to be a flagship training and networking event for the Forum, enabling us to build better capacity within the platform, which is essential to our continuing advocacy work.

Chapter III Autonomy and Inclusionis made up of anti-discrimination, education, employment, mobility and youth rights topics.

Education: ‪The Forum is contributing to the EC’s survey on Education & Training 2020 (ET2020), with the support of the Education Working Group and the input of some of our member organisations. This will inform the Commission Staff Working Document on the Mid-term review of ET2020 and the 2014 Education, Training and Youth Forum. Furthermore, the Education Week is being prepared for 3-7 November. We launched a call for participants and inputs from member organisations and hope to build the event around the ideas and needs of membership. The European Youth Event also included an interactive workshop to present and reflect on the findings of the YFJ study on the impact of Non-Formal Education on young people’s employability. Around 80 young people attended the workshop.

Employment: On 4 June YFJ met some experts on quality Internships in order to design a Toolkit for Employers. The experts were from six employers (Microsoft, Titan Cement, Abbvie, Adecco, EUK Consulting, EPACA) and the meeting was very positive with a real dedication to the Charter on quality internship and apprenticeship. Read more here. Moreover, the Forum is also in touch with Vodafone and UniCredit bank to further advance our rights-based agenda in the employment field to include private sector actors into the policy discussion on employment.

During European Youth Event, some interns were filmed for their stories, which the Forum will use to highlight our policies against precarious working conditions of young people. Just a recall, the Youth Forum has now opened a call to collect information on national legislation on internships in European countries. Please fill it out here.

Furthermore, on 18 July, the European Interns Day organised by 20 NGOs from 8 different countries, including InternsGoPro and the European Youth Forum, gathered more than 200 people in Brussels to support interns’ rights. See more here.

Finally, the planned Youth Summit to precede the Heads of State Summit on Youth Employment in Turin in July has been postponed, pending the announcement of when the high level Summit itself will take place as Turin meeting was cancelled. This highlights the challenges in the area as countries struggle to take action. Youth employment has remained on the top of the agenda for EU and we have been continuing to monitor the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, which is still lagging behind with only France and Italy having received funds from the 6bn € fund. Forum also gave input to a resolution adopted by European Parliament on youth employment – a strong majority of MEPs voted in favour – with some progressive calls like minimum standards for traineeships and extending the age limit of the guarantee to 30, the Forum welcomed the resolution.

Youth Rights: The YFJs application to be able to submit collective complaints on youth rights breaches to the Social Charter was approved! The YFJ has been working with ways of being able to submit collective complaints under the Social Charter and been looking into how to start strategic litigation around cases of breaches against young peoples rights. An ad hoc task-force on Youth Rights and Anti-discrimination was held in the beginning of June in Helsinki and there was intense work done on identifying possible cases for collective complaints  and on creating a long term strategy for the work with Youth Rights. In the Council of Europe the work with Youth Rights proceeded in the end of May with an enlarged working group starting the drafting of a recommendation on the access of young people to their rights.

In case you have any questions or suggestions already at this point please feel free to contact me directly or your contact person in the Board.

With kindest regards on behalf of the Board,

Peter Matjašič

President


European Youth Forum AISBL

Rue de l’Industrie 10, 1000 Brussels

Tel.: +32 2 793 75 20
Fax : +32 2 893 25 80
youthforum@youthforum.org

With the support of
The European Commission
The European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe