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Youth

 

The European Youth Pact

The European Youth Pact was adopted at the spring meeting of the European Council in March 2005. The youth policy forms a cornerstone of the new Lisbon Strategy. Topics relating to youth must be given a central role within the framework of all policy areas.

The aims of the European Youth Pact are:

  • Employment, integration and social advancement
  • General and professional training and mobility
  • Balancing professional and family life

In May 2005, the European Commission submitted a communication on the practical implementation of the Youth Pact at both European and national level. Furthermore, the European Commission emphasised the need to continue with the open method of coordination on the basis of the White Paper “A New Impetus for European Youth”.

Projects during the Austrian EU Presidency

During the Austrian EU Presidency, implementation of the European Youth Pact will strongly characterise the area of youth. In March 2005, the European Council stated clearly that the European Youth Pact had to be implemented in order for the Lisbon goals to be achieved. The European Commission will submit its report, summarising and evaluating the national strategies, to the European Council in March 2006. At the same time, measures relating, among others, to the Youth Pact will be assessed. Austria will prepare a further recommendation on the implementation of the European Youth Pact, which will be submitted to the Education, Youth and Culture Council in February 2006 and then to the European Council.

The European Youth Pact and its implementation will also be the subject of the informal meeting of the European Ministers for Youth in Bad Ischl in March 2006. Young people from all parts of the European Union will attend the conference, thereby underlining the involvement of youth. As part of the European Youth Pact, Austria will also submit a resolution on the promotion of non-formal and informal learning in order to further recognition of these forms at EU level.

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The EU programme YOUTH IN ACTION

In July 2004, the European Commission prepared the draft of a successive programme (“YOUTH IN ACTION”) to follow on from EU Youth Programme which ends in 2006. The new programme is to receive funding of EUR 915 million and run from 2007 to 2013. The general aims of the new programme are, for instance, promoting the active citizenship of young people in general and their European citizenship in particular, developing solidarity among young people in order to strengthen the EU’s social cohesion and promoting European cooperation in the youth policy. This will contribute towards developing the quality of youth work and the specialised knowledge of organisations of civil society in the area of youth.

The following actions are required in order to carry out the programme:

  • “Youth for Europe”: this action is aimed at improving youth exchanges and, therefore, the mobility of young people and supporting youth initiatives and projects designed to encourage young people to participate in democratic life
  • European Volunteer Service: this action aims to strengthen the participation of young people in various kinds of volunteer activities both within and outside the EU
  • “Youth for the World”: this action is designed to support projects and initiatives in partner countries which foster the exchange of young people and/or social-pedagogic assistants
  • Social-pedagogic support systems: the aim of this action is to support organisations active in the area of youth at European level (particularly NGOs) and to network social-pedagogic assistants
  • Support for political cooperation: the aim is to promote cooperation and dialogue between the actors in the area of youth

Projects during the Austrian EU Presidency

For Austria, progress with negotiations on the YOUTH IN ACTION programme is one of the youth focus areas of youth.  One of the objectives of the Austrian Presidency is to conclude negotiations during the first half-year. Currently, a wide range of questions regarding content remain open (e.g. age limit for young people receiving benefit, as well as the role and definition of the volunteer services).  The delay in adopting the EU budget 2007-2013 poses a further difficulty because the negotiations on the final funding of the YOUTH IN ACTION programme cannot be concluded until a general agreement on the financial perspective of the EU budget has been reached.

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Non-formal and informal learning in the area of youth

In the area of youth, learning can be divided into three basic types:

  • Formal learning: the learning process is divided according to targets, time frame and support (stipulated in a curriculum); generally, young people receive official certificates or diplomas.
  • Non-formal learning: learning outside the curriculum framework, whereby targets, time frame and structure are, in the main, indicated. However, this does not necessarily lead to an officially recognised qualification.
  • Informal learning: learning takes places within the framework of various activities in the areas of free time, work, family or other volunteer activities, such as youth organisations. Learning is not formally structured and does not lead to a recognised qualification.

Projects during the Austrian EU Presidency

The areas of non-formal and informal learning are characterised by voluntariness and self-organisation, professional preparation and the fact that individual success is not formally assessed.

Such forms of education have an extraordinarily positive affect on active citizenship, general participation capability and involvement in the labour market.

Therefore, the Austrian Presidency will submit a resolution for adoption on the promotion and recognition of non-formal and informal learning in youth work to the Education, Youth and Culture Council in May 2006. This project already has the support of the European Commission.

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The White Paper on Youth and its implementation

The White Paper “A New Impetus for European Youth” forms the core of the youth policy at European level. It was published by the Commission in November 2001, after consultation with thousands of young people from around Europe, and has created a new framework for cooperation in youth issues within the EU.

Since then, the Council of the European Union has adopted, in the four areas of participation, information, voluntariness and research, goals which Member States aim to implement independently within their area of competence and to submit regular progress reports thereon to the European Commission.

The Member States were asked to draft reports on strategies, projects and developments in the areas of participation and information by the end of 2005.

Projects during the Austrian EU Presidency

During the Austrian EU Presidency, therefore, national reports will be evaluated and the European Commission will draft a progress report, probably by May 2006. Work on a related resolution of the Education, Youth and Culture Council will probably begin under the Austrian Presidency.

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Date: 23.12.2005