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Two youth strategies – one objective. The Council of Europe Youth sector strategy 2030: a strong backbone for youth work

Globalisation and climate change, technological progress, demographic and socioeconomic trends, populism, discrimination, social marginalisation, fake news, threats to our democracies – the challenges young people face today are numerous. A number of years ago, the European Union and the Council of Europe began to respond to these challenges with youth policy strategies, action plans and corresponding programmes.

In their current strategies – the Youth Strategy of the European Union for 2019-2027, adopted in November 2018, and the Youth sector strategy 2030 of the Council of Europe, adopted in January 2020 – both the EU and the CoE highlight the importance of youth work in addressing these challenges.

Council of Europe Youth sector strategy

The Council of Europe’s Youth sector strategy 2030 (Resolution CM/Res(2020)2 on the Council of Europe youth sector strategy 2030) provides orientation for the youth policies of the Council of Europe’s Member States. The Resolution seeks explicitly to 'revitalise' pluralistic democracy by increasing the capacity of youth civil society and strengthening youth policy and youth work. It calls for broader youth participation and improved responses to new developments in democracy, such as young people’s changing participation patterns, digitalisation or Internet governance, the effects of climate change and environmental degradation, artificial intelligence, increased mobility and new forms of employment.

The Council of Europe’s Youth sector strategy places special emphasis on strengthening, recognising and advancing youth work policies and practices and on extending the access and attractiveness of youth work and non-formal education/learning for young people. It emphasises that peaceful and inclusive societies that recognise the democratic citizenship of young people, their diversity and their ways of organising themselves are only possible if youth work is embedded within youth policy frameworks 'notably through a European youth work agenda and its implementation, in close co-operation with the European Union'. This is direct confirmation of the European Union’s current Youth Strategy, which likewise calls for co-operation with the Council of Europe under the European youth work agenda.

The EU-CoE Youth Partnership

The Partnership between the European Union and the Council of Europe in the field of youth is a long-standing institution. As early as 1998, the EU and the CoE engaged in joint projects to provide training for European youth workers and youth leaders, struck up a partnership (EUROMED) between the EU and neighbouring countries in the southern Mediterranean, and co-operated in the field of youth research. In addition, its co-operation was formally established by means of an agreement. With this Youth Partnership, the EU and the CoE want to create synergies between both institutions’ activities in the youth field, notably in the areas of democratic participation and citizenship, access to rights, prevention of discrimination, and quality development in youth work. To this end, the partners want to obtain a better understanding of young people and their situations and to strengthen youth work and its contribution towards youth participation. The activities under the Partnership systematically involve young people and youth organisations, decision-makers, government representatives, youth researchers and youth work practitioners.

Projects during Germany’s EU Council Presidency and Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers

The two youth strategies represent a strong backbone for the work of Germany’s Federal Government, which takes over the EU Council Presidency in July 2020 and the Chairmanship of the CoE’s Committee of Ministers in November 2020. Against this backdrop, the European Youth Work Agenda is to be adopted in the second half of 2020 and its implementation debated during the 3rd European Youth Work Convention in December 2020. The opportunity to place youth work at the heart of Europe’s youth policy has possibly never been as good as this year.

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