EFIL saw many changes in the late 80’s and early 90’s
in terms of staff and on the Board. The continuity and expertise suffered in a time where the Commission became more and more active in the area of educational exchanges. Externally EFIL suffered a loss of image and contacts and internally the purposes of the Federation became hazier and the ties among the Members became looser. At the General Assembly of 1993 in Madrid people raised the question whether EFIL should continue. A debate followed about the nature and the purpose of the Federation, also because in the meantime AFS had become a network of independent organisations with partnership agreements and several of the early priorities had become part of the international strategic plan.
Turning Point and a New Beginning
To deal with the crisis, a meeting of National Directors produced a document for the General Assembly in 1994 – which marked a turning point and a new beginning for the Federation. Today’s “face” of EFIL is still the one that was drawn 17 years ago: a Federation of AFS organisation, with a biennial General Assembly, a Board with Directors elected for two years, a secretariat in Brussels, a close network of National Directors, and a priority on lobbying European institutions, sharing information among Members, training staff and volunteers
By implementing the development plan of 1994, and with a focus on external representation and lobbying with the European Institutions in areas of youth mobility, education, voluntary service, global co-operation and vocational training, EFIL developed into a respected organisation by the end of the ‘90s. Efforts were also invested in training and the development of intercultural materials, which further enhanced EFIL’s position and status to lobby.
But EFIL had to face many more challenges.
- -Europe had to deal with the end of the East/West division. AFS opened new partners in Russia, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Latvia, which became part of the EFIL family. EFIL had to regain a presence in the new countries that originated from the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
- The European Union accelerated the citizens’ integration process through large investments in youth mobility schemes – which threatened the role of private organisations, that so far had the monopoly of the field.
- The new partnership system in AFS caused severe turbulences in many partners, who were forced to invest on their internal stability in finances and governance rather than on European projects.