The Council of Members (COMEM) of the European Youth Forum (YFJ) took place last weekend (12-13 April) in Brussels, Belgium. EFIL was there with Alexandra Ruivo Cordeiro (AFS Portugal) and Emilija Gagrčin (AFS GER).

The agenda of the COMEM was packed as usual, this time even more so due to the elections for the Advisory Council on Youth (AC) of the Council of Europe for the mandate of 2020-2021.

First things first: What is Advisory Council on Youth? It is a part of a unique co-management structure (called Joint Council on Youth) composed of 30 young people that together with representatives of ministries dealing with youth from the 47 member states provide opinions and input to the Committee of Ministers on all youth sector activities. 20 out of 30 are directly elected by the membership of the YFJ, 10 are nominated directly by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to give space to young people from smaller organizations not represented in the YFJ.

As you might have seen on the social media, EFIL also had a candidate for the AC, namely Emilija Gagrčin, who at this point is already serving as a member of the AC as replacement for Charlotte Klinting, who was elected by the membership of the YFJ for the mandate 2018-2019.

Next to Emilija, there were 17 (13 spots) other candidates from International Non-governmental Youth Organizations and 11 (7 spots) candidates from the National Youth Councils. After countless interviews with YFJ member organizations in person and via Skype, a debate among the candidates and must-have intrigues here and there, we are happy and proud to announce that Emilija was elected to serve as part of the AC for the mandate 2020-2021!

For her mandate Emilija wants to focus:

  1. Human Rights Education / Education for Democratic Citizenship
  2. Access to Youth Mobility / Quality in Youth Mobility
  3. Implementation of the Enter! Recommendation on the access of young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods to social rights

What else happened at this COMEM?

  • Debate on the European elections 2019 with young candidates from YFJ’s Party Political Youth Organisation members. In a panel-discussion format, Katalin Cseh (European Liberal Youth), Oona Wyns (Young European Socialists) and Mina Tolu, (Federation of Young European Greens) discussed their candidatures and what the European elections will mean for young people.
  • Young European of the Year 2019 – Award ceremony: Yasmine Ouirhrane (23) is recognised as Young European of the Year 2019 for her commitment to equality for women and equal participation opportunities for migrants in Europe. Since 2017, the European Youth Forum is a partner of the award, together with the Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe. Yasmine gave a passionate and moving speech calling for more mutual respect and acceptance. Read more about it here.
  • This year, Council of Europe is electing its new Secretary General. The COMEM had a pleasure of hosting a session with the Belgian candidate, Mr Didier REYNDERS, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of Belgium. He talked about his vision and acknowledged the importance of youth engagement and the urge to preserve the youth sector of the Council of Europe against the background of potential budgets cuts threatening the institution until the end of this year.
  • Positive vote on the Resolution in support of youth demanding urgent climate action that inter alia commits the YFJ to include climate change and the necessary steps to take in regards to it from a youth perspective in its future work and in any commitment determining the foundations of its future work and calls upon the European Union to take environmental and climate impact into account in all of its decisions, as an underlying criterion when passing legislation (i.e. climate mainstreaming).
  • Before closing the spring COMEM, the Exchange Group (informal group of likeminded organizations that work closely together within the YFJ comprised of AEGEE, ALLIANCE, CISV International, EEE-YFU, EFIL, ESN, SCI, TEJO, YEN and YEU) issued a statement on the overall organization of the AC elections, including some suggestion on how to improve certain procedures.