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Empowering Voices: Shaping Inclusive Policies via the 10th cycle of the EU Youth Dialogue

14/05/2024

Not one, not two, but nearly 30,000 young Europeans actively participated in the 10th cycle of the EU Youth Dialogue so far. What is this dialogue among all those young people all about? They are diving deep into the challenges they face regarding social inclusion. But get this—not only are they talking about the problems, they also propose innovative solutions!

Would you like to know more? Get in touch!

Kristof
Kristóf Papp

The Youth Dialogue is a process that really fosters collaboration between young people and policymakers. They team up to develop policy recommendations together, and they don’t just stop at the local level—but go all the way to the European one.

consultation = inclusion & commitment to diversity

National Working Groups from each Member State, together with International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations (INGYOs) lead this consultation of young people through engaging activities like debates, focus group discussions, and roadshows. This broad approach ensures diverse youth perspectives, particularly from minority groups, are included, enriching the dialogue. And we’re not the only ones saying this! Research from the EU-Council of Europe Youth Partnership backs this up, highlighting the commitment to diversity. This is essential for a thorough understanding of the challenges young people are facing.

uncovering barriers

The consultation revealed that young people encounter several barriers in employment. These include discrimination, employers' being hesitant to accommodate diverse needs, and the mismatch between what’s taught at school and/or university and what the job market demands. Similar challenges also exist in healthcare and social support systems, such as discrimination, stigma around mental health, cultural barriers, and insufficient infrastructure. This problem doesn't stop there; it also affects other areas like transportation, information, support services, and affordable housing.

finding solutions

The dialogue isn't just about identifying problems! During the consultation, young participants also suggested practical solutions, such as banning unpaid internships to ensure fair compensation, and they also highlighted the need for more mental health professionals. Other ideas included making public transport cheaper or free for young people and setting limits to how much landlords can ask for rent to make housing more affordable for young people. These are just a few of the many solutions they proposed!

turning ideas into action

These discussions don’t stop there; they peak at the EU Youth Conferences, where young representatives and decision-makers refine these suggestions into actionable policy recommendations. These conferences play distinct roles in the dialogue cycle, which is structured around the Trio Presidencies of the Council of the European Union. Each cycle focuses on one (or more) of the European youth goals and consists of three conferences: one to explore and set the consultation framework, another to summarise findings, and a final one to finalise recommendations that reflect the diverse realities of the Member States. The current cycle is organised around the Spanish-Belgian-Hungarian Trio Presidencies. The first EU Youth Conference of this cycle took place in Alicante in October 2023, diving deep into the topic of the cycle, European youth goal #3, Inclusive Societies. This conference set a strong foundation for the consultation activities which took place all around Europe.

At the latest EU Youth Conference in Ghent, six broad policy recommendations and 34 specific implementation measures were created. These included suggestions such as providing subsidies for affordable housing for young people, guaranteeing access to trained psychologists in every school, and introducing learning material that promotes acceptance and awareness of diversities. These outcomes were incorporated into the Belgian Council Conclusion on inclusive societies for young people, which were then approved by the Council of Ministers on 13 May.

what’s next?

The National Working Groups and INGYOs are invited to share the outcomes with young people and decision makers at all levels. They also report back on the implementation plans to the European Steering Group, which consists of the Trio Presidency teams (including Ministries and National Youth Councils), the European Commission and the European Youth Forum and it is coordinating the implementation of the whole EU Youth Dialogue process. We encourage you all to reach out to your National Working Groups to see how you could contribute to the process in your country. These reports serve as a basis for the discussion at the upcoming EU Youth Conference that will take place in September 2024 in Budapest.

Young people shouldn’t be the only ones in the process. Decision-makers also play a key role in making the EU Youth Dialogue happen.

As we anticipate the EU’s next political cycle, the EU Youth Dialogue should provide a strong foundation for the work of the institutions and contribute to setting a new agenda. We welcome the European Commission’s intention to closely link the Youth Dialogue to the Commission’s Work Programme, while we also encourage them to tie-up further future policies, such as the EU Youth Strategy. Young people have been voicing the changes they would like to see! After supposedly listening to them, now it’s time to implement these changes.

* Photos by Sanad Latifa and Freedom.

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