JOINT PRESS RELEASE – EU Youth Conference kicks off in Thessaloniki

March 10, 2014

Social inclusion of young people must be a priority


Thessaloniki, 10th March 2014 // At the EU Youth Conference in Thessaloniki (Greece), young representatives and policy-makers from all over Europe are joining forces to insist that the European Union strengthen its action in order to give young people their legitimate place in society. Delegates will also discuss concrete recommendations for policy actions.


The Greek Presidency of the Council, together with the European Youth Forum and the Greek Youth Council, is hosting the EU Youth Conference in Thessaloniki from 10th to 12th March 2014. This conference, a real milestone of the structured dialogue process, will underline the main focus of the Greek Presidency on youth issues: social inclusion of all young people with a clear emphasis on youth entrepreneurship.

The EU Youth Conference will bring together around 250 participants from all the EU Member States and candidate countries, both representatives of young people and of Ministries responsible for Youth Affairs, as well as from international NGOs, the European Commission and the European Youth Forum. They will all jointly discuss various aspects of social inclusion, such as quality education, quality jobs, active inclusion, inter-generational solidarity and youth entrepreneurship, based on the results of consultations and discussions between young people and policy-makers conducted in the 28 Member States of the European Union, as well as the reports submitted by several international NGOs active in the field of social inclusion of young people.

The Conference, which follows those of the Irish and Lithuanian presidencies, is the last in this Trio Presidency, which have all focused on social inclusion of young people.

The Greek Secretary General for Youth, Mr. Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, notes on the EU Youth Conference:

“The global economic crisis has entered its sixth consecutive year and there is no clear sign that it is coming to an end. The results of the crisis have affected everybody in our Continent, but the young people have suffered the most. The Governments of Europe have a clear responsibility to assist their young ones. But being young does not automatically mean, being helpless. Young people are by definition the most energetic, creative and industrious of all.


“The Greek Presidency understands the capabilities and the potential of young people. Therefore, for the EU Youth Conference in Thessaloniki, we have selected the issue of youth entrepreneurship as a good example of how young people can actively work for their social inclusion. I am confident that the participants of this Conference will produce an optimistic message for the young people of Europe.”

European Youth Forum President, Peter Matjašič, welcomes the Conference’s special focus and states:


“Youth unemployment across Europe continues to be unacceptably high and whilst many groups are emerging from the crisis, young people risk becoming a lost generation. Young people deserve the chance to be properly included in and have a real impact on their society. The Structured Dialogue process has given youth the opportunity to stress key issues of social inclusion, such as age discrimination, quality jobs and inclusive education, as necessary features for young people to take their rightful place in society.


“It is particularly fitting that this important EU Youth Conference is taking place in Thessaloniki, which is European Youth Capital 2014; this adds symbolic value to this Conference and we hope for a strong outcome as a result.”

With an especially high level of youth unemployment, the Greek National Youth Council welcomes this conference and hopes that the outcome will benefit young people in Greece, as well as across the EU.

The President of the Hellenic National Youth Council, Mr Armodios Drikos, comments:

The unacceptable youth unemployment rates in the EU put social cohesion at risk and constitute a huge hindrance to emerging from the crisis, as young Europeans are the main driving force for the much-awaited change and recovery. This Youth Conference is willing to deliver the message that it is high time we moved from theoretical proposals to actual actions. Youth and social entrepreneurship is a crucial means to get out of the deadlock we have been through and bring young Europeans back to decision-making process. Social inclusion of young Europeans, active participation and equal opportunities are the flagships of our efforts and objectives.

The outcome of the discussions between young people and policy-makers at the EU Youth Conference will be used for the Council Resolution on structured dialogue on social inclusion, which will be discussed in the Council of the European Union and is expected to be adopted by EU Youth Ministers in May 2014. In addition, part of the results from the EU Youth Conference will feed into the Council conclusion on entrepreneurship of young people, promoted by the Greek Presidency.

The joint recommendations will be presented during the official closing session on Wednesday at noon, when there will also be an introduction of the next Team Presidency Italy-Latvia-Luxembourg programme in the youth field.


Notes to the editors:


About the EU Youth Conference


The EU Youth Conference is one of the milestones of the Greek Presidency of the Council. EU Youth Conference and the meeting of the Director-Generals for Youth Affairs are run in each presidency on a yearly basis. The event is dedicated for discussion of youth policy and social inclusion, the main topic of the last 18 months’ Presidencies. The Conference is a core element of the EU process of the structured dialogue with young people and brings together 250 participants from the 28 Member States. The joint discussion is based upon the inputs and suggestions expressed by over 15,000 young people and more than 700 experts and public authorities from all over the EU.

The European Youth Forum position on the structured dialogue can be found here.

More information on the EU Youth Conference in Thessaloniki can be found on the official Greek Presidency website.

Live streaming of the plenary sessions of the EU Youth Conference can be followed at on Monday 10th March starting from 11:30 EET to 13:30 EET, and on Wednesday 12th March from 10:00 EET to 12:00 EET.

About the European Youth Forum

The European Youth Forum is the platform of youth organisations in Europe. Independent, democratic, youth-led, it represents 99 National Youth Councils and international youth organisations from across the continent. The Forum works to empower young people to participate actively in society to improve their own lives, by representing and advocating their needs and interests and those of their organisations towards the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations. For more information, visit

European Youth Forum AISBL

Rue de l’Industrie 10, 1000 Brussels

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

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