The European Youth Work Convention 2015 was one of the flagship initiatives of the Belgian Chairmanship of the Council of Europe (Nov. 2014 – May 2015). It took place five years after the 1st European Youth Work Convention (Gent, 2010), that resulted in the Declaration of Ghent and the Resolution of the EU Council of 18-19 Nov. 2010 on youth work, a milestone for the recognition and support of youth work in Europe.

EFIL had attended the 1st Youth work convention and since 2010, important developments occured in both youth work and policy.

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The hot topics that have heavily hit the young people of Europe (economical crisis, rising unemployment rates, migration/immigration, etc.) created incentive and opportunity for the rise of alternative forms of youth work and innovative approaches to youth participation.

The evolution of these changes and developments called for an assessment of the situation in order to give a new impetus to youth work policy in Europe. The current trend focuses on youth work as an ’instrument’ for labour market oriented learning and the recognition of individually gained competences. Within this trend it should be required to emphasize the value of youth work for personal development, empowerment, citizenship, participation, social inclusion, cultural awareness, expression, friendship and fun.

There is an urgent need to renew the European youth work strategy. This should be done building upon the EU Youth Strategy until 2018 and the Agenda 2020 of the Council of Europe youth policy. In order to ensure continuity and support future developments in the field, the post-2018 and post-2020 horizon should also be taken into consideration.

Based on these needs the themes of the 2nd European Youth Work Convention were the followings:

  • The meaning, the ‘raison d’être’ of youth work
  • The aims and anticipated outcomes of youth work
  • The patterns and practices constituting youth work
  • The connections between youth work and wider work with young people (formal education, training and employment, entrepreneurship and more)
  • The recognition of youth work within and beyond the youth field
  • The need for education and training for quality
  • The value of youth work for young people, their communities and society at large

The Convention gathered stakeholders from all over Europe bringing together complementary knowledge, perspectives and experiences on youth work, in order to reach the following objectives:

  • Map and review the evolutions in youth work practice and policy since 2010;
  • Discuss challenges facing youth work at local, national and European level;
  • Find common ground within the diversity of youth work in order to foster recognition.

Within this sharing opportunity, EFIL presented the European Citizenship Trimester programme, as an innovative practice of youth work, in a workshop.

The outcomes of the Convention were gathered in a final Declaration aimed to:

  • Contribute to the elaboration of a renewed strategy, agenda and action plan for youth work in Europe;
  • Trigger an institutional process towards an agreement on the value and significance of youth work at Council of Europe and/or EU level;
  • Send a strong message of support to policymakers and practitioners to continue developping and renewing youth work in Europe.

The aim of the Belgian Chairmanship is to use this reference document to give a new impetus to youth work policy in Europe. The Declaration was presented during the closing plenary session. High-level representatives from the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the United Nations were invited to react to the clear orientations provided in the text for the elaboration of a new European agenda and action plan on youth work. The Declaration was also taken up by the Latvian EU Presidency, which presented it to the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council on 18-19 May 2015. Finally the Belgian Chairmanship is currently working hand in hand with the Council of Europe in order to translate the Declaration into legal text to be adopted by the Committee of Ministers ensuring recognition of the value and significance of youth work.

Find here the full text of the Declaration

The official webpage of the Convention:

european youth work convention