EU White Paper Youth Policy
EU White Paper Youth Policy
Enclosed is the lastest briefing on what is happening in relation to the White Paper on Youth Policy. The paper was produced by the European Youth Forum.
British Youth Council
2 Plough Yard
Shoreditch High Street
London EC2A 3LP
Tel: 020 7422 8645
Fax: 020 7422 8646
Date: 01 December 2000
Re: European Union, White Paper: Youth Policy, 4th briefing note Background
Please refer to the first three briefing notes (documents Executive 0120-2K, 0265-2K, 0544-2K) for the background of the consultation process on the White Paper: Youth Policy.
A CONSULTATION PROCESS WELL UNDER WAY
Initially, the European Commission had foreseen to base the pre-consultation on three main pillars. Firstly, a consultation on national and European levels of young people aged between 15 and 25. Secondly, the involvement of the governments of the member states through a series of meetings, conferences and seminars. Thirdly, scientific contributions, from a number of youth research undertakings. Additionally, inter-service consultation and negotiation inside the European Commission will be undertaken. Following the intervention of the European Youth Forum the European Commission agreed to organise a fourth main "consultation pillar" of a "Civil Society Consultation".
The "Civil Society Consultation pillar" will be organised by the European Commission in close co-operation with the European Youth Forum. Already in September, the Commission and ESC agreed that a "hearing" of civil society would take place on the 20th of February 2001 in the ESC building in Brussels (see below). The Commission has furthermore confirmed that the Youth Forum is its privileged partner when it comes to civil society in the youth field, i.e youth organisations and organisations serving or dealing with youth people. This implies that the Youth Forum will take on the responsibility to co-ordinate the collation of written submission by civil society organisations.
On the basis of the findings of the various consultation processes, the Commission will analyse the results and organise, in co-operation with the Swedish presidency a seminar in March 2001. Representatives of all parts of the consultation process should attend this event.
The table below summarises the pillars of the consultation process and marks specific events related to the process.
Type of consultation Start End Event/meeting/conference
National consultations of young people and European youth meeting 05/2000 10/2000 05-07 October 2000 (European youth meeting in Paris (France)
Governments, "national youth policy leaders" 12/2000 03/2001 Seminar of Youth Directors, 08 December 2000 in Paris (France) "Bilateral" meetings with member states, January/February 2001
Youth research/experts Ongoing Ongoing Youth researchers conference, 18-20 May 2000 in Lisbon (Portugal)
Civil Society consultation 10/2000 03/2001 Call for contributions launched by Youth Forum in December 2000 Hearing on Youth Policy, 20 February 2001 in the ESC
Commission internal Ongoing Ongoing Not applicable
1. Consultation of young people - "pillar one"
1.1. Results of the process so far
In order to analyse the results of the national youth meetings, and prepare and analyse the results of the European youth meeting, the Commission contracted a consultant, Mr Ulrich Bunjes. Since July 2000, the Commission has processed the results of the national meetings and the European Youth Meeting and put them at the disposal of the public on its web site:
The site is presented in English and French and contains under the different items, information in other official languages, as well as links to other web-sites concerning national and European youth policy. The Commission plans to regularly update the site. The Commission would also appreciate if you create a link from your web-site to this Commission-site. For any comments on the content of the web-site, please contact by e-mail Mr Oddbjörn Hauge, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The consultant of the Commission has also produced a synthesis of the findings of the national youth meetings, and the European youth meeting that can be found an at:
1.2. European youth meeting, October 2000
1.2.1. European Youth Forum Delegation
The Youth Forum recruited a delegation from the Bureau, and among its member organisations (EFIL, YEPP, YMCA, WAGGGS, AEGEE, ECYC, ETUC, DEMYC, ECOSY and DNK) to attend the meeting.
1.2.3. Involvement of young people from outside the European Union
The Youth Forum ensured the participation of all pre-accession, candidate and EEA countries (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Malta, Cyprus, Leichentein, Norway and Iceland) at the European meeting. The leaders of the country groups took part in a briefing meeting on the White Paper in Brussels on the 08 September 2000. The briefing meeting was considered a valuable experience and eased their entrance into the process as a whole. At the request of the Commission these leaders also took part in the two « Core Group » meeting that helped prepare the European Youth Meeting during September 2000.
1.2.3. « Core group »
« Core Group » meetings were convened by the European Commission on the 09 and 24 September 2000 in Brussels and Partis respectively. Leaders of each group (from the EU, pre-accession, candidate and EEA/EFTA countries) attending the European youth meeting in Paris, accompanying persons and the trainers for workshops participated. The aim of these meetings was to get input from the young people on the programme-design. Already at these meetings there was concern expressed at the size of the European youth meeting and the vague technical details. It was also mentioned at this point that there was the possibility that a group of young people who attended the Paris meeting would present the results to the Ministers responsible for Youth at the time of the Council meeting in November.
1.2.4. The Youth Gathering itself
The message that the Youth Forum delegation tried to pass on, apart from policy input, was to highlight the contribution of youth organisations and NYCs in the mobilisation, preparation and success of the European youth gathering, as well as, the recognition of the role of youth organisations and the Youth Forum in developing youth policy on a day-to-day basis.
The European youth gathering produced recommendations on Employment, Vocational Training and Social Integration, Education, Well-being, Participation, European values, and Mobility. It was the culminating point of the consultation of young people themselves for the White Paper, which according to the Commission involved some 20.000 young people all over the Europe Union.
Remarkable for the whole process is that this consultation was standard setting as it closely involved the group concerned by the policies developed on the basis of the White Paper, i.e. young people already at this stage of the consultation. Though, the process was still far from being ideal, it confirmed the commitment of the European Commission to youth participation at the Community level. The inclusion of young representatives from the EEA/EFTA, pre-accession and candidate countries should also be recalled as a feature of openness and inclusiveness. In total young people from 31 countries were present.
Each working group managed to come up with specific proposals, even-though the time was short. Participants also commented on the consultation itself and on the programme and organisation of the European youth gathering, with which many were very unsatisfied.
The young people present, who are engaged in different kinds of local, regional, national and European organisations and who addressed the topics of the gathering in their work on a daily basis, did not feel any ownership of the event. For others it was their first experience of such a European interaction and therefore had a more positive view.
Participants from pre-accession countries integrated well, maybe also thanks to the fact that they came in smaller groups from each country. The European Youth Forum was present with a delegation coming from a broad range of international youth organisations who contributed actively to the working groups and the event.
For results of the Paris meeting please consult the following sites:
If the Paris meeting was the culmination point of an important European brainstorming exercise of young people on youth policy, proper reflection and structured dialogue on the ideas need to follow now.
The young people involved so far expressed the wish to go back to their peers to confront them with the outcomes of the consultation process. Many committed to advocate for European youth policies, but also to further contribute and participate in a process that has revitalised many national debates. The challenge for decision-makers now is to be prepared to listen and take on board the collective voices of the interests of young people in policy-making on a daily basis at local, national and European level. It is now, that the much-praised "participation of young people" needs to be ensured and all commitments must be honoured.
In this respect, Madame Buffet, the French Minister for Youth and Sport seemed ill-advised to launch the idea of yet another conference of this kind in 2001 and of the establishment of alternative youth structures. Many young people and youth leaders took the floor to object both to the form and content of these ideas. They were considered pre-mature and disrespectful to the process so far.
It was clearly stated that the networks, organisations and structures of young people that already exist at national and European level should first be respected in their role and taken seriously in the process.
Mr. Vale de Almeida, Director for Citizenship and Youth spoke with authority on the commitment of the Commission to involve young people in the whole process and fully acknowledged the European Youth Forum as its privileged partner. In its initial contribution to the White Paper, the European Youth Forum has already taken into account many of the conclusions coming from the youth consultation process, and will advocate for these over the coming months and years.
d) Group of the «18»
In the preparation of the Paris gathering, the French Presidency had launched the idea to organise a meeting between Ministers responsible for Youth and a group of young people from the European youth gathering, at the Council meeting on the 09 November 2000, as a follow-up to the youth consultation process.
Eventually, 18 young people were invited to attend this occasion of symbolic significance. 15 young people from the European Union member states and three representing the pre-accession countries were invited. The three young people from the pre-accession countries were identified among the young people participating in Paris during the youth gathering, they came from Bulgaria, Hungary and Malta.
One day before the Council meeting, the European Commission organised a briefing for the "18". The President of the Youth Forum, Mr Pau Solanilla, spoke at the meeting. He emphasised that the development of youth policy at the European level was a process and recalled initiatives taken by the Commission and previous presidencies, which laid the foundation for the White Paper initiative.
He explained that the Youth Forum has good working relations and partnership with the European Commission on a day-to-day basis. However, relations with the Council fluctuate and depend on the kind of relations, which exist with any presidency at any one-time. He encouraged the participants to make the most of the opportunity of the meeting with the Ministers and regretted that the Youth Forum would not have the opportunity to participate.
The European Youth Forum had requested orally and in writing to the French Presidency to be present at the meeting with the Ministers, and again approached representatives of the Cabinet of the French Youth Minister one day before the Council. Though the European Commission was supportive to the wish of the Youth Forum, there was no success in ensuring the participation of the Youth Forum.
As a result of criticism from some of those present regarding the lack of recognition of existing structures Mr Vale De Almeida, Director of Youth and Citizenship emphasised its commitment to supporting youth organisations and the importance of the partnership with the European Youth Forum.
In the meeting of the "18", the participants expressed their dissatisfaction with the gathering in Paris. Later the participants had the opportunity to voice their criticism to Commissioner Viviane Reding, and to hear her opinion about
the results of the European youth gathering. The Commissioner highlighted certain outcomes, which she believed the Commission could work further on.
However, she explained that many of the conclusions of the Paris meeting would not fall under her competence, which frustrated some of the participants, mainly because the issue of competence had never been very clearly explained at either the national consultations or in the preparation for Paris.
Following the meeting with the Council on 09 November, the Commission has invited the group of the « 18 » to further follow the process of the consultation. This invitation of a selected group of individual young people, did encounter critical remarks from a number of member states, but also the Youth Forum voiced its concern that the invitation of individuals with unclear status might cause systematic and legitimacy problems.
2. Consultation of member states - "pillar two"
This consultation pillar started with a bit of delay. It will be given impetus by a seminar of youth directors from the member states organised by the French Presidency and the European Commission in Paris on 08 December 2000.
Following this, during January and February mainly, the Commission will visit all member states to meet with national youth administrations and actors in the youth field. The Commission has made a commitment to meet with youth organisations and in particular representatives of National Youth Councils during the visits to the member states.
It is therefore of utmost importance that National Youth Council to contact their respective ministries, to be informed about the date of the meeting and their participation. Please keep the European Youth Forum informed about the developments.
3. Youth Researchers/experts - "pillar three"
The report of the meeting Youth Researchers, in Lisbon in May has yet to be finalised. The European Youth Forum has stressed the importance of involving the Council of Europe in this process as a lot of European youth policy exists within its institutional framework. It has also carried out a considerable amount of youth policy reviews and research, which should be taken into account to ensure that the "youth policy wheel is not reinvented".
Already in end 1998 the European Commission initiated a process for a large study on "The State of young people and Youth policy in Europe". In early 2000 the Italian based IARD (Instituto di Ricerca) was contracted to carry out this study. Results are expected for the end of 2000. It is regrettable that the results of the research undertaking that has been financed by the Youth for Europe III programme are not yet available at the time of writing.
4. Civil Society Consultation - "pillar four"
The European Commission decided to include a consultation of civil society as the fourth pillar after the process has started, following the recommendation of the European Youth Forum. This consultation will ensure the recognition both of the contribution of European youth organisations and networks, and also of other European civil society organisations working in the youth field. This consultation process has to main elements.
* Civil society organisations - including all of the members of the European Youth Forum - have been invited to make written contributions to the European Commission White Paper on Youth Policy. A call for contributions is being sent out by the European Youth Forum (document COMEU 0900-2K). The results of the call will be compiled by the European Youth Forum and presented in a preliminary format at the Hearing on Youth Policy on the 20th of February 2001.
* A Hearing of civil society organisations in the light of the European Commission White Paper on Youth Policy will be organised by the Economic and Social Committee (ESC) and the European Commission in co-operation with the European Youth Forum on 20 February 2001 in the premises of the ESC. The Hearing was agreed among the three partners during the ESC’s work on the "Own-Initiative Opinion: White Paper on Youth Policy", which has been adopted in the end of November 2001.
For the whole civil society pillar a close co-operation between the European Commission and the European Youth Forum has been agreed. Not only will the Youth Forum co-ordinate the written contributions submitted, but the Youth Forum as an organisation will additionally take over the task of editing the report of the Hearing in February in order to present preliminary results to the seminar in March in Umeå (Sweden).
For more information on this pillar, please refer to documents COMEU 0900-2K and COMEU 0901-2K as well as to www.youthforum.org.
5. Inter-service consultation in the European Commission There is no information available about the state of play of the inter-service consultation inside the European Commission. There is reason to believe that this very important co-ordination task for the development of a horizontal policy approach is still a very rudimentary stage. The European Youth Forum particularly encouraged the Directorate for Citizenship and Youth to invite other parts of the Directorate General Education and Culture, but also other Directorate Generals as soon as possible in its reflection process.
6. Seminar on the White Paper on Youth Policy, Umeå (Sweden) 16-18 March 2001 This seminar is being organised by the Swedish Presidency and the European Commission to bring together representatives of all the different pillars to discuss the outcomes of the consultation process so far.
A project group bringing together different ministries, the Swedish Board for Youth Affairs and LSU is preparing the seminar, which will cater for around 150 participants. The Swedish Presidency intends to invite representatives of the EU and pre-accession countries, along with youth organisations, researchers and a European Youth Forum delegation. Parallel activities will also take place involving local municipalities, the Swedish Board for Youth Affairs and LSU.
B REACTION OF EUROPEAN UNION INSTITUTIONS
1. Council - Education and Youth Affairs Council 09 November 2000
a) Young people and Europe - open debate
What follows is the official communication to the press from the meeting on this point. A full record of the Council meeting can be found at http://ue.eu.int then go to Press, then Council, then Education.
"The Council held a public debate, which was transmitted live to the press and interested members of the public, on the subject of "Young people and Europe:
what follow-up measures should be taken following consultations with young people in Europe?" The debate was preceded by a meeting between European Union Youth Ministers and a delegation of 18 young people from Union and pre-accession countries. This "round table" enabled Ministers to take note of young people’s concerns and suggestions regarding Community youth policy.
The debate in the Council followed on from national consultations which took place between May and July and from the European youth gathering held in Paris from 5 to 7 October 2000. The consultations - which involved youth leaders, experts, civil society and young people themselves - and the debate were conducted with a view to the White Paper on future youth policies which the Commission is in the process of preparing for the second half of 2001.
During the debate, Ministers gave their comments on two questions:
- how can it be guaranteed that young people’s proposals will be taken into account?
- how can progress be made towards improving youth involvement?
Commissioner Reding pointed out how much headway had been made since the idea of preparing a White Paper on European Union youth policy was floated on 23 November 1999. She informed Ministers that conclusions would be drawn from various meetings with young people at the end of the year. In March 2001 a seminar would be held in Umeå in Sweden on the situation of young people in Europe, with the aim of consulting civil society, researchers, the social partners and other organisations and bodies. The meeting would be open to applicant countries. The next meeting of the Education/Youth Council would conclude the process and the Commission hoped to submit its White Paper in autumn 2001.
At the close of the debate, the President (the French Youth Minister Ms Buffett) expressed satisfaction with progress made with regard to young people. She noted that Ministers’ statements revealed deep-seated agreement on the need to continue the dialogue begun with young people and to create a real partnership with them and their associations, either through other European meetings or by making use of the means offered by new technology (Internet for example) and by passing on young people’s wishes and, where appropriate, demands to other Council configurations."
b) Involvement of the grout of "18"
The whole group of "18" prepared their intervention before the meeting, and the representatives of Spain (a member of CJE), Ireland (a member of NYCI), UK (a member of BYC) and Austria were nominated by the "18" to make the representation to the Ministers.
The youth representatives made three points. Firstly, they highlighted the positive elements and shortcomings of the Paris gathering. Secondly they asked for the recognition of existing youth structures, in particular the European Youth Forum. Thirdly, they called for an amendment to the treaty so that the competence of the EU on youth policy issues could be clarified.
Ministers responded by welcoming the White Paper process and the breadth of the consultations that had taken place. Six governments made reference to the importance of working with the European Youth Forum at European level and with other structures of youth at others levels, while at the same time stressing the need to consult with as many young people as possible not involved in youth organisations. Also Ms Buffet made a reference to the European Youth Forum in her opening speech.
Consultation raises expectations and Governments also stressed the need to ensure that ways and means were found to update young people on the White Paper process through each stage of its development. Commissioner Reding promoted the idea of another big meeting under the Belgian or Spanish presidency.
2. European Parliament
The European Parliament has not yet been fully involved into the process due to the fact that the process is still in a pre-consultation phase. The Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport was briefed on the White Paper by the Director for Youth and Citizenship, Mr Joao Vale de Almeida, at its meeting on 18 September 2000 and welcomed the initiative. The Committee raised some concerns whether there would be the need for a White Paper given the slow implementation of previous White Papers in the field of youth and education. The Parliament also insisted of being more closely associated to the consultation processes, and stressed in particular the importance of involving youth NGOs.
The Committee shall be briefed again by the Commissioner 08-09 January 2001.The rapporteur for the YOUTH programme, Ms Lissy Gröner was present at the European youth gathering in Paris and spoke with expertise about youth policy matters. Her presence was very much appreciated by the participants and she has taken a keen interest in the issue.
3. Economic and Social Committee (ESC)
For the time being, the ESC has taken a most pro-active attitude. Following the intervention of the Youth Forum, the Committee has appointed Ms Jillian Hassett as rapporteur for an "Own-initiative Opinion on the White Paper: Youth Policy".
Ms Hassett appointed Mr Tobias Flessenkemper as her expert, thus ensuring strong involvement of the Youth Forum in the drafting process of her report. The members of the study group come from different sectors and countries and the Secretariat has informed National Youth Councils of those countries where members of the ESC study group come from about the proceedings with the aim to strengthen the links between NYCs and the ESC.
The Economic and Social Committee of the European Union (ESC), adopted its own-initiative opinion on the White Paper at the end of November which is available at www.esc.eu.int in all 11 Community languages. The Economic and Social Committee represents the organised civil society at European level and has taken a keen interest in youth policy. In its opinion, the ESC welcomes the initiative of the Commission to prepare a White Paper on Youth Policy. The Committee states that "youth policy is by definition a horizontal policy where coherent and co-ordinated efforts across different policy and administrative sectors are ensured through integrated actions". Furthermore the Committee issued substantial recommendations in order to promote clear perspectives and a broad consensus for future Community action and Member State co-operation.
4. Committee of Regions
The European Youth Forum attended the last meeting of Commission 7 (Youth) of the Committee of the Regions (COR) and has continually updated the Secretariat of the Committee on developments concerning the White Paper. The European Youth Forum has made enquiries as to whether the COR would make its own opinion on the white paper. At the very least, the Committee of the Regions (Commission 7) has made a commitment that the white paper will be one of the priorities on its agenda in 2001.
It was a good indication of the interest of the COR in the process that a member of the cabinet of Mr Chabert, President of the Committee of the Regions, took part in the European Youth Meeting in Paris (5-7 October 2000). Following his intervention at the European Youth Forum General Assembly in Brussels end of October, the President of the COR signalised his support to the idea of the Youth Forum that the COR woul adopt an own-initiative-opinion on youth policy, but due to th difficult procedures it remains to be seen how this can be followed up.
C ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
1. European Youth Forum initial contribution to the White Paper
The European Youth Forum has elaborated in a pro-active manner an initial contribution to the White Paper. Contributions were encouraged from member organisations, and MIJARC made a substantial one, which they also sent directly to the European Commission, also available at www.mijarc.org. The General Assembly adopted the document on 19-21 October 2000. The final version of this document is available from the Secretariat (document Assembly 0558-2K).The Youth Forum has submitted its initial contribution to the European Commission, who appreciated the input. The Bureau of the Youth Forum has decided to make a second contribution providing more detailed proposals and measures which should be taken in each of the thematic areas. Therefore the expertise of member organisations is called upon, and the individual submission made prior to the Hearing will also be used by the Youth Forum to elaborate its second contribution to the White Paper.
A "portal" on the White Paper has been created at www.youthforum.org providing links to most relevant documents and websites. Please provide your links on the White Paper to the Youth Forum web-editor: email@example.com
3. Draft Calendar of events
* 08 December 2000, Meeting of the Youth Directors, Paris (France)
* 20 February, 2001, Hearing on Youth Policy, Civil Society Consultation at the ESC, Brussels (Belgium)
* 16-18 March 2001, Seminar on the White Paper, Umeå (Sweden)
* 28 May 2001, Education and Youth Affairs Council (European Union)