Latvian Presidency at the Council of the EU: Increased Political Participation for Young People

On the 1st of January 2015, Latvia began its presidency of the Council of the EU, where every six months a different member state steps in in order to provide continuity and direction at the head of the Council. Latvia takes over Italy’s mandate (July-Dec 2014) and will be followed later in the year by Luxembourg (July-Dec 2015).

Latvia outlined its priorities for youth.  Latvia’s key focus for young people centres around increased political participation. Therefore,

latvian presidency
the Presidency will be inviting youth delegates and policy makers to participate in the EU Youth Conference (23-26th of March), as part of the 4th cycle of the EU’s ‘Structured Dialogue’ and a second Eastern Partnership Youth Forum, aimed at strengthening cooperation with young people in Eastern Europe.

In addition, the Presidency says it wants to develop youth policy in a cross-sectional manner, that is involving efficiently different stakeholders, from the development to the follow-up of youth policies. A key aim is to tackle youth-related elements, namely youth unemployment, reducing early school leaving rates, and boosting enrolment in tertiary education have been outlined as specific priorities in this regard.

European Commission: 1 bn € For The Young Unemployed

On 4 Feb., the European Commission proposed to make 1 billion euro from the Youth Employment Initiative available as early as this year. This change will increase by up to 30 times the pre-financing Member States receive to boost youth employment – reaching up to 650 000 young people and helping them get into work faster. This initiative shows how the fight against youth unemployment is both the political and investment priority at the national and European level.

The first priority of this Commission is to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness, stimulate investment and create jobs. The 315 billion euro Investment Plan can create millions of new jobs – not least for young people. But even when new jobs are created it is often very difficult for young people to successfully enter the job market. This is why the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) focuses particularly on getting young people back into work or training. All Member States have committed to the “Youth Guarantee”: to provide young people under 25 with a quality job offer, an apprenticeship or training within four months of leaving school or losing a job. Today’s announcement will help make that guarantee a reality, in line with the Commission’s commitment in its 2015 Work Programme.

Youth Guarantee

This legislative proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council, who have to adopt it before it can enter into force.

This step is crucial to enhance the social inclusion of young people and to offer new opportunities for NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) who apart from facing economic problems are also subject to various negative social consequences, lower participation in the society, and are exposed to higher risk of unemployment and social exclusion later in their life. Currently 16% of 15-29 year olds is in need for the inclusive labour market and educational opportunities, support and guidance to overcome this situation.
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European Youth Event Hearings Continue in European Parliament


Youth representatives convened at the European Parliament in Brussels (January 20-22nd) to present MEPs with further findings from the European Youth Event (EYE), which was held in the European Parliament in Strasbourg from 9-11th May 2014, as a forum for young people to debate issues including youth unemployment, sustainability, the digital revolution, and the future of the European Union.

A number of the EYE participants presented these ideas to seven European Parliament committees. The first hearing focused on youth unemployment, international mobility and diversity. European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth & Sport Tibor Navracsics reinforced the need for a “strategic alliance” with youth organisations, identifying them as key actors in efforts to increase youth participation.

EFIL is happy to see that inclusive and active debates are taking place between young people and policymakers. However, we hope these will lead concrete and specific steps, visible in young people’s everyday lives.



‘Enter’ Recommendation on Youth Access to Social Rights Adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

The new recommendation on the access to social rights of young people with disadvantaged backgrounds  focuses on access to education and training, employment, housing, health and other crucial social services. Of particular interest for EFIL advocacy are the points related to recognising and supporting non-formal education, youth work, youth organisation and youth workers in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and on the recognition and certification of learning acquired through non-formal and informal education/learning.

council of europe

Youth workers, non-formal education/learning providers and youth organisations tend to suffer from poor social and political recognition. Therefore, in the recommendation the following measures to increase the value of their youth work and to contribute to community development across Europe have been suggested:

– encouraging responsible authorities to recognise and value youth work as an important measure in supporting community cohesion, by for ex. consulting youth work professionals in strategy and policy development and implementation processes concerning disadvantaged young people; by providing funding for youth workersand youth organisations;

– supporting youth work professionals and youth organisations in the promotion of best practices, through a variety of measures, including relevant legislative and policy measures;

– making available quality “second chance education” opportunities to young people who have left education early, mobility programmes for increasing self-confidence and entrepreneurship and work-based training for the acquisition of skills and qualifications;

– promoting the development of non-formal educational partnerships between schools, youth workers and independent youth organisations as part of a holistic lifelong learning strategy

– including education for democratic citizenship and human rights education in school curricula

Member States’ authorities responsible for youth are encouraged to disseminate and implement these proposals, including incorporating them into national youth and social policies, informing local and regional authorities about them and supporting them in implementation efforts and initiating cross-sectoral and inter-agency partnerships on access of young people to social rights.


The First Year of Work of The Council of Europe Advisory Council

Jan 2015 saw the release of the first number of the Advisory Council Newsletter.

The Advisory Council on Youth is the non-governmental partner in the co-managed bodies of the youth sector of the Council of Europe. 30 representatives from youth NGOs, National Youth Councils (Eliza Popper, AFSer from Hungary, was representing the National Youth Council for Hungary), and networks have the task of formulating opinions and proposals on any question concerning youth, dealt with in the Council of Europe. With its governmental partner – the European Steering Committee for Youth – the Advisory Council forms the Joint Council on Youth to develop a common position on the political priorities and programme of the youth sector of the Council of Europe.  

Click here to see which are the 2016-2017 new priorities of the European Youth Foundation

Advisory Council


School Education Gateway: a New Website to Link Education Practitioners and EU Policies

As the development of teachers’ skills and sharing of good practice are at the heart of Erasmus+, it funded the launch of a new website: School Education Gateway. This will provide clear and accessible (easy and free of charge) information on education initiatives across Europe, for teachers, school staff, experts and organisations working in the education sector.

The main services that the School Education Gateway currently features include:

– Information service in 23 European languages (news, publications, expert articles, and tutorials)
– Sharing of innovative practice through a series of articles gathering examples and inspiration from different European projects.
– Three tools to support applications for the Erasmus+ Programme (such as a Course Catalogue for teachers’ professional development, Mobility Opportunities including teaching assignment and job shadowing offers and Strategic Partnership request to announce and search partners for Strategic Partnerships).


The School Education Gateway  is operated for the Directorate General for Education and Culture by European Schoolnet, a pan-European partnership of 31 education ministries developing learning for schools, teachers and pupils across Europe. The website will be closely linked with eTwinning, the European Commission initiative to support online school cooperation.


Social Dialogue: Some Initiatives

“A new start for Social Dialogue”, a high level conference marking the new start for social dialogue will take place in Brussels on 5th March in the presence of the President of the European Commission. The Commission is committed to strengthen the dialogue with social partners. The event will discuss concrete ways to strengthen it throughout the EU with EU cross-industry social partners and their national affiliates from all Member States, as well as EU sector social partner organisations.

Finally, we invite you to fill in th EESC survey on “Civil dialogue and participatory democracy in the practice of the EU institutions”.  This is a way to express your needs and interests with the goal of having them reflected in future policies of the institutions.

Survey by The Council of Europe About Youth and Hate Speech

The Council of Europe has opened a survey about young people’s opinion on online hate speech. It is following a first survey that took place in 2012 at the beginning of the campaign on No Hate Speech Movement. The Council of Europe is “repeating” the survey also to define the follow-up to the campaign at European and national levels. Last time over 1000 young people from all over Europe and beyond took part. Your opinion matters too!

hate speech

Fostering Creativity, Entrepreneurship and Mobility in Education and Training

On 14th Jan. EFIL attended a hearing on “Fostering creativity, entrepreneurship and mobility in education and training” (Brussels). The purpose of the event was to answer the following questions:

▪   How to promote, teach, measure and validate entrepreneurial and transversal skills?

▪   The role of teachers, social partners, youth organisations and government agencies in fostering creativity, entrepreneurship and mobility in education and training

Apart from EFIL, there was nobody to represent the non-formal and informal education providers, neither from the participant side nor from the panel. The hearing and following discussion was then very much education and commerce oriented but thanks to Laura Lopez (Policy Officer for Education, European Youth Forum) the voice of youth organisations was also represented. Her contributions were in line with the content of the EFIL seminar “Transversal Skills for Global Employment” (Antwerp, 21-26 Oct.2014).

She stated that before even going through recognition and validation of transversal competences for future employability we have to make sure young people are self-confident and aware of their competences, after which they can “sell” them to the poten

tial employer. Linked to this point, a participant raised the question on how to motivate young people to take their ideas into actions, Laura suggested that it’s by getting them out of their comfort zone and this can be namely through mobility and volunteering.

Talking then about transversal skills, she pointed out not to forget that transversal skills, more specific the entrepreneurial spirit, can be also gained and developed through non-formal and informal education and youth organisations play in this process an important role. Laura Lopez reminded the importance of pushing for more positive Visa administrative procedures for non-EU young people in order to allow them to engage in youth organisations as well.

When the panel suggested to encourage more interaction between employers and education providers and then to demonstrate the benefits of this collaboration, Laura Lopez also pointed out the big gap between employers and youth organizations and the need to talk to each other and use the same vocabulary.


Check the Following Publications

“The situation of youth volunteering to employment: competences and employability” study carried out by the Don Bosco Confederation of Youth Centres in collaboration with the Federation Didania and ASDE Scouts of Spain

Developing Intercultural Competence Through Education” (Pestalozzi series No. 3) (2014)

For more information: [email protected]