As a member of the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe (CoE) for the period 2016-2017, Charlotte Klinting (AFS Denmark) represented EFIL at the 34th meeting of the Council of Europe’s Joint Council on Youth.

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The youth department of the CoE has a unique structure, which is known as ‘co-management’, where representatives of youth organisations and governments make joint decisions on the Council of Europe’s youth policy. This structure is called ‘Joint Council on Youth’. Before each Joint Council, the Advisory Council on youth composed by 30 young people and the European Steering Committee for Youth – CDEJ composed by the government’s representatives, meet separately.

The session took place in Budapest on 21-23 March, and started with a meeting of the Advisory Council which elected its Bureauwhich steers the AC, and the Programming Committee which manages the allocation of funds of the European Youth Foundation. Also, areas of responsibilities – the so-called ‘dossiers’- were assigned to the various members of the council.

The Advisory Council works within three Priority Focus areas: 1) Advancing democratic citizenship through innovative forms of participation, 2) Autonomy of young people and their access to rights, and 3) Promoting inclusive and peaceful societies.

Three of the Bureau members are each in charge of one Priority Focus area and all dossiers were divided into these 3 areas, letting the AC members work more decentralised with one bureau member as key contact. Charlotte was delegated the cooperation with the EU-CoE Youth Partnership. In addition, she was assigned the area of Peace and Intercultural Dialogue.

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Key tasks for the meetings of both the Advisory Council and the Joint Council on Youth concerned the working methods of the new mandate; appointing a Gender Rapporteur, Roma Rapporteur, and a representative to the North-South Centre; review the legacy of the previous AC; discuss the framework agreement that guides the partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth, and receiving reports on the work from the European Youth Foundation and the Youth Department. Moreover, each Priority Focus Group discussed specific items relating to their work and prepared items for decisions in plenary.

Among many other items, it was decided that the AC would like to follow the implementation of the Framework of competences for Democratic culture and Intercultural dialogue; address the resources allocated for the implementation of the Roma Youth Action Plan; contribute actively to the revision on Human Rights Education framework of CoE; and that the AC would advocate for creating a common definition of youth work and the role of youth organisations for the benefit of the Draft Recommendation on Youth Work that is being prepared by the Committee of Ministers.

As expressed by Antje Rothemund, Head of Youth Department: There are many challenges facing the Advisory Council during its mandate such as the state of democracy in Europe and the respect for human rights at large, and more specifically the growing number of populist parties in power, persistent financial crisis and never ending cuts, extreme migration flows and the refugees crisis, as well as the access to rights for vulnerable groups, and various forms of discrimination which often affect young people early on. The role of young people is crucial to defend and promote a pluralist and open Europe.

Lastly, the meeting was finished with a dinner and reception to celebrate the retirement of André-Jacques Dodin, who has been a key figure in the Council of Europe’s Youth Department and the European Youth Centres.

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