The proposal for the next European Youth Strategy (2019-2027) has been released by the European Commission on 26th of May. It is named “Engaging. Connecting and Empowering young people: a new EU Youth Strategy”, a title very close to Eurodesk’s position paper Engage. Inform. Empower. from 2017. The proposal is now to be discussed by the Council and the Parliament before its adoption in November.
Eurodesk welcomes the fact that the proposal and agrees with its attention on reaching out to young people, with a focus on those with fewer opportunities. The proposal emphasizes the importance of the local level, encouraging grassroots initiatives to empower young people, and the use of online and digital technologies.
The strategy is divided in three areas: “Engage” which is about fostering youth participation in democratic life; “Connect” which is about bringing young people together to foster voluntary engagement, learning mobility, solidarity and intercultural understanding and “Empower” which is about supporting youth empowerment through quality, innovation and recognition of youth work. Eurodesk has clearly a role to play under each of these priorities.
Under the priority “Engage”, the EU Structured Dialogue becomes the EU Youth Dialogue, with the aim of reaching a more diverse audience at local level and using new and alternative forms of participation. Here access to quality information is clearly mentioned as a way to stepping up youth participation in democratic life. It is also seen as a way to improve the overall governance and ownership of the strategy. One measure relates to pursuing “a more systematic approach to quality youth information, outreach and dissemination, building on existing networks.” This point is very important for Eurodesk and it is something that we have stressed in all our policy areas.
In the Staff Working Document that is published alongside the proposal, Eurodesk is mentioned several times as a successful dissemination channel and an important factor for cross-border youth mobility in the current strategy. The document mentions Eurodesk as a network whose outreach should be increased; and that “dissemination should be strengthened by better exploiting the potential of existing networks”. We therefore have to make sure that our particular role and added value is understood at national level and continue to ask for additional resources matching the role and the resources allocated under Erasmus+ (which is also a priority in the document).
The European Youth Portal is also mentioned as a tool connected to online participation, being “the digital single-entry point for young people to engage with the EU”. The Portal will play an increased role in the Strategy as we can already see this in recent investments made to give it a new face. Eurodesk aims to be involved in the thinking process behind those developments, in further improving the youth-fulness of the Portal and will support the idea of setting up a coordination body responsible for information and outreach.
Under the “Connect” priority, the Strategy stresses the need to expand opportunities for young people to come together through youth exchanges, cooperation between organisations and cross-border volunteering. It’s about “increasing participation in cross-border learning mobility and solidarity” by raising awareness about existing opportunities and reaching out to those with fewer opportunities. The work that our national coordinators and multipliers carry out on a daily basis covers these aspects so we have quite some expertise to contribute with. Eurodesk will make sure the network is ready to match those ambitions.
The last part of the strategy is focused on equipping young people and youth workers with skills, notably to be able to adapt to technological changes and to reach out to diverse young people, and recognising their learning experiences. Eurodesk has recently adopted a competence framework of Eurodesk Mobility Advisor that aims to bring a greater clarity and recognition to the role played by the youth information workers active in the network. Some projects are also run at national level such as the BADU Erasmus+ project on badges for youth workers.
With a strategy that has a very similar name to the position paper written by Eurodesk, ERIYCA and EYCA, we cannot help but draw parallels to the recommendations mentioned. We are happy to see a more focused and result-oriented proposal for the Youth Strategy. For Eurodesk this is a good sign, especially when an emphasis is put on quality youth information. More efforts are also drawn to ensure that implementation and monitoring mechanisms are in place with the new EU Youth Coordinator and the National Action Plans.
The next steps are now the adoption of this proposal and of the legal basis for the next Erasmus+ programme. Matching political ambitions with financial means is always a challenge and we will make sure that access to quality information is not forgotten!