Youth - Young people building Europe

5th Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Youth

Bucharest, 27-29 April 1998
25 years of youth policy in the Council of Europe: Taking stock and looking ahead

Information document prepared by the Secretariat

I. Introduction - Milestones in the development of a youth sector in the Council of Europe
II. The tools at the disposal of the Council of Europe’s youth policy

III. Prospects for the future


This document prepared by the Secretariat should be seen as an information document on the youth policy carried out within the Council of Europe during the last 25 years. It tries to evaluate the actions already carried out and the measures taken on both governmental and educational level in order to develop and implement a European youth policy and try to define the prospects and challenges for this sector facing the political and social changes at the end of this century.

I. Introduction - Milestones in the development of a youth sector in the Council of Europe  

The Council of Europe launched its work in the youth field in the early 1960s, at a time when young people found themselves in conflict with society and its values. The Council wished to respond to young people who were making demands and asking questions by recognising them, from the outset, as partners with an active role to play in shaping their future.

The first debate was held in 1964, on a report entitled "Un monde malade de sa jeunesse" and in May 1968 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided to hold regular debates on the situation of young people in Europe. In 1969 these discussions produced a recommendation - which related to a decision of the Council's Committee of Ministers in 1967 - on the establishment of a European Youth Centre and European Youth Foundation.

The aim was to develop activities for, and involving, young people and their organisations, and geared to addressing current issues, and at the same time to facilitate encounters that would help individuals and groups to explore one another's identities and mutual differences; and also to encourage young people to participate in building a democratic, pluralist Europe.

1 June 1972 saw the inauguration of the European Youth Centre, a residential, educational establishment, equipped initially to accommodate 35 people. In 1978 its capacity doubled so that it can now cater for up to 75.

To complement this initiative, a European Youth Foundation was established as a means of fostering the voluntary sector in Europe by providing financial support for multinational activities by national or international youth organisations in the member states of the Council of Europe. Thirty-nine member states currently contribute to the Foundation's budget.

Both the Centre and the Foundation run and support activities which are open to all young people, whatever their origins or social circumstances.

The programmes and projects implemented by these two bodies are managed by a Governing Board, comprising representatives of governments and non-governmental youth organisations in equal numbers (currently 12 of each), thus applying the principle of co-management - an expression of the political will, declared when these bodies were set up, to work with young people rather than for them.

The Governing Board is assisted by an Advisory Committee which currently comprises 25 representatives, 16 from international non-governmental youth organisations, eight from national youth committees, and one representing young people outside traditional organisations. The committee's job is to support the work of the Governing Board through proposals and opinions.

The Governing Board and Advisory Committee are the two statutory organs of the European Youth Centres and European Youth Foundation.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Council of Europe opened its doors to the countries of central and eastern Europe. In order to give practical expression to this enlargement and to foster contact between young people, the Committee of Ministers agreed in November 1992 to set up a second European Youth Centre.

On 15 December 1995 the second European Youth Centre opened in Budapest. It operates according to the philosophy and principles of the Council of Europe's youth policy.

For ten years, the Council's approach to youth issues was almost entirely confined to educational work. However, with the need to develop a common youth policy at European level, a structure for intergovernmental co-operation became necessary.

1982 saw the establishment of the CAHJE, the Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Youth Questions, a forum through which representatives of member states of the Council of Europe and states which were Parties to the Cultural Convention but not members of the Council of Europe - 21 countries initially - could exchange information on their respective youth policies and establish priorities for action at European level, such as support for youth participation and for the provision of information for young people.

In 1985 the CAHJE organised the First Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth, in Strasbourg, on the subject of youth participation.

In 1988 the Committee of Ministers, recognising the importance of the sector and the need to put intergovernmental co-operation on a permanent footing, established the European Steering Committee for Intergovernmental Co-operation in the Youth Field (CDEJ), to succeed the CAHJE. The steering committee continued the CAHJE's work, particularly in the areas of mobility, information, youth participation and research. The CDEJ has expanded from its original 21 members, to 47 members, the 40 members states of the Council of Europe and seven non-members which are Parties to the European Cultural Convention (the instrument on which the Council's youth activities are based).

The development of the Council of Europe's youth activities field was reflected institutionally in 1992 with the establishment of a Youth Directorate - an expression of the priority accorded to youth policy in the Organisation - responsible for the administration of the various youth bodies and for applying a common youth policy.

II. The tools at the disposal of the Council of Europe’s youth policy  


      1. The CAHJE - Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Youth Questions - the first intergovernmental co-operation body

The Committee of Ministers decision to set up this committee reflected the governments' desire to promote intergovernmental co-operation in the field of youth and the need to ensure follow-up, in terms of policy, to proposals emanating from EYC and EYF programmes. Governments were aware that it would not be possible to build on experience and set standards if they restricted their action to the co-managed sector.

This consideration was reflected in the CAHJE's terms of reference, which stipulated that the committee's work should focus on:

  • · promoting intergovernmental co-operation;
  • · intergovernmental exchanges of information and documentation and the sharing of experience;
  • · examination of bilateral youth exchange programmes and how to develop them in a European context;
  • · advising the Committee of Ministers on how best to ensure appropriate follow-up to suggestions on matters of common interest emanating from the programmes of the EYC and EYF.

On the basis of its terms of reference, the CAHJE established the following priorities for action:

  • · exchanges of information on the situation of young people in Europe;
  • · youth participation, as a contributory factor in social integration and the consolidation of democracy;
  • · youth unemployment: information on governmental and non-governmental measures and on-going assessment of their results; collection and dissemination of information on pilot projects that offered solutions and alternatives in the areas of work, education and leisure;
  • · helping to ensure that young people were better informed and promoting international youth mobility;
  • · youth and the media: exchanging views and collating results of the work of other Council committees;
  • · information on Council of Europe activities affecting young people;
  • · research in the following areas:
      • o youth and local voluntary sector activities;
      • o youth and leisure, particularly in peri-urban areas;
      • o the local dimension in youth work.

The CAHJE thus outlined the main priorities for intergovernmental co-operation, which were taken up at the first conference of European Ministers responsible for youth, in Strasbourg in 1985, on the theme of youth participation in society. The outcome of the conference reflected the declared political will to agree on the key elements of a European youth policy.

The conference recommended that the Council of Europe's youth structures should be strengthened, with a view to establishing a common youth policy, and confirmed the need for a body responsible for planning and programming intergovernmental co-operation, ie the need

"to establish a platform for intergovernmental action on youth questions, to ensure that intergovernmental co-operation in the Council of Europe in this area [continued] after the expiry of the Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Youth Questions' [current terms] of reference".

The result was the decision to set up the CDEJ and to hold regular ministerial conferences.

In terms of standard setting - it being one of the responsibilities of the committee of experts to draw up legal instruments with a view to promoting intergovernmental co-operation - the achievements of the CAHJE were limited. Its only draft recommendation, on paid leave for educational purposes involving participation in international youth activities, was abandoned because it was considered that little real progress could be made in the economic climate of the time, and it was decided to take up this work at a later date. However, it was thanks to the CAHJE's exploratory work on the situation of young people in Europe that the scope for intergovernmental initiatives was defined and the main policy priorities, which still apply today, were established.

      2. The European Steering Committee for Intergovernmental Co-operation in the Youth Field (CDEJ) takes over from the CAHJE

In 1988, acting on a proposal from the 1985 Conference of Ministers, the Committee of Ministers transformed the CAHJE into a steering committee, responsible for programming and planning intergovernmental co-operation in the youth field.

This change was reflected in the committee's terms of references by a number of new duties, stemming directly from the policy guidelines previously drawn up by the CAHJE, such as:

  • · co-operation with the Governing Board and Advisory Committee of the EYC and EYF in areas of common interest, and with other steering committees and ad hoc committees in the implementation of projects spanning several fields of activity;
  • · preparing and following up conferences of European ministers responsible for youth, having regard to the relevant decisions of the Committee of Ministers.

In 1995, a new duty was added to the committee's terms of reference:

  • · responsibility for ensuring the application of Recommendation No. R (95) 18 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on youth mobility, the methods of application to be defined by the steering committee …

This was a direct and practical consequence of the CDEJ's work in fostering youth mobility.

It should be noted that the issues driving the CDEJ's work emerge, in some cases, from initiatives proposed and furthered by non-governmental youth organisations which are partners of the Council of Europe. This form of partnership between governments and youth organisations stems directly from the terms of reference of the CDEJ, under which it is required to ensure "appropriate follow-up in the intergovernmental programme of activities of suggestions of common interest, arising from the programmes of the European Youth Centre and the European Youth Foundation". Such action may receive high-level political backing form the ministerial conferences. The follow-up work of the CDEJ may entail drawing up European standards, such as recommendations or conventions - traditional instruments for implementing intergovernmental co-operation - or proposing activities which can be integrated into EYC educational programmes, for example training courses in mediation, information etc.

      3. The CDEJ's terms of reference

A study of how the CDEJ has discharged its terms of reference demonstrates interaction between these two types of initiative, and between the government sector and the co-managed sector, and highlights the complementary nature of the work done by various sectors of the Council of Europe and other international organisations.

              a) to promote intergovernmental co-operation … and serve as a forum for the examination of national youth policies

This work began in 1987 when the CAHJE started to explore various aspects of youth policies. A committee of experts was commissioned to look at selected issues in relation to youth policies on participation and marginalisation (following the recommendations of the Second Conference of Ministers in Oslo in 1988). The committee's report on "Participation as a means of integrating young people at risk into society" was adopted in 1989 and its publication authorised by the Committee of Ministers.

The work continued in 1990 with the preparation of a report by a committee of experts on local youth policies, on the development of an integrated approach to youth policy planning at local level, adopted by the CDEJ in 1994.

A broader examination of youth policies is now taking place, following a Finnish proposal made at the informal meeting of European Ministers responsible for Youth in Luxembourg in May 1995. A system of national reviews of youth policy followed by an international evaluation has been launched. From the two evaluations, which are compared at a hearing before the CDEJ, a full picture of a country's youth policy emerges, including both positive and negative aspects. The international evaluation is carried out by a tripartite team comprising members of the CDEJ, researchers, and representatives of the Youth Directorate's partner youth organisations. The first hearing, to consider and compare national and international reports on youth policy in Finland, took place in October 1997 at the EYC in Strasbourg.

So far, the Netherlands, Spain, Romania, Sweden, Estonia and Norway have submitted their youth policies to this form of evaluation.

The purpose is to provide up-to-date information on the development of national policies across Europe and on the establishment of comprehensive, integrated youth policies - a recommendation of the Conference of Ministers in Vienna in April 1993 - and thence to abstract common European youth policy principles.

              b) To stimulate the exchange among governments of information, documentation and experience, with the aim of providing competent national authorities with means of following developments in youth affairs in the States' Parties to the Cultural Convention …

Since 1982 there have been regular, ad hoc exchanges of information on youth policy - vital for assessing and reviewing methodology. 1993 saw the introduction of systematic exchanges, one purpose of which was to allow all 47 members of the committee to have a say. Each member is sounded out in turn at the CDEJ's two plenary meetings so that members of the committee can inform one another of any changes in their national youth policies. In October 1997 the CDEJ decided to extend this system to include more detailed presentations on the policies of certain countries, designated at the previous meeting.

This twice-yearly forum provides a general overview of the development of youth policies in Europe and enables trends to be identified. Thus it is clear from the reports of meetings held over the last three years that the idea of a comprehensive, integrated policy is beginning to take root in national conceptions of youth policy. In 1995 the system was reinforced by the production of a regularly updated comparative study of national policies and legislation.

              c) To advise the Committee of Ministers on ways of ensuring an appropriate follow-up, in the intergovernmental programme of activities, to suggestions of common interest arising from the programmes of the European Youth Centre and European Youth Foundation ...

It is within this framework, based on the priorities originally established by the CAHJE, that the CDEJ has undertaken its most important work, particularly in the areas of mobility, information and youth participation.

c.1 Mobility

For both the CAHJE and then the CDEJ, youth mobility has always been seen as a fundamental element in European youth policy because it represents an essential means of encouraging personal enrichment and individual autonomy, as well as promoting peace and understanding between peoples, combating xenophobia and racism and helping to create an awareness of a European cultural identity.

In 1988 a committee of experts on barriers to youth mobility was asked to identify obstacles to mobility; it listed and analysed 40 of them in its report. The committee's work was used to prepare for the Lisbon Conference (in September 1990), which dealt with issues affecting youth mobility in Europe, and to draw up a draft framework convention on youth mobility.

In March 1993, however, in view of the recession in western countries and the opening of borders in eastern Europe, the CDEJ decided not to submit the draft framework convention to the Conference of Ministers in Vienna, despite numerous declarations supporting the principle of mobility:

the declaration by Ministers responsible for Youth in the 12 countries of the EEC ("Generation 93" conference, Paris, November 1989);

Recommendation 1191 of the Parliamentary Assembly, furthering policies for youth mobility as proposed by the third Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 1990);

Final Communiqué of the 5th Conference of European Ministers on the movement of persons from central and eastern European countries (Vienna, January 1991), recommending the promotion of youth - and particularly educational - exchanges;

a resolution of the conference of European Education Ministers (Madrid, 1994) on the need to promote youth mobility, particularly in the context of school exchanges.

In Vienna, despite the fact that the draft convention was not submitted, the conference recommended that the Committee of Ministers instruct the CDEJ to:

"continue its work concerning youth mobility … (which) should lead to the identification of barriers to youth mobility and the definition of a framework indicating the rules, practical conditions and volume of youth mobility deemed feasible and acceptable by the Contracting Parties of the Cultural Convention in the years to come;

… (take steps) to reduce existing barriers …"

and stipulated that:

"… the schemes carried out by member countries should be assessed, and the progress made ... constantly monitored by the CDEJ".

On the basis of these terms of reference, the CDEJ appointed a working party, which produced a draft recommendation on youth mobility, setting out a framework and means of implementation for a high-quality mobility project. When the Committee of Ministers adopted this instrument, as Recommendation No. R (95) 18 in October 1995, the terms of reference of the CDEJ were extended: it was asked to "monitor the implementation of the Recommendation No. R (95) 18 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on youth mobility … and for this purpose:

to collect and disseminate information on bilateral and multilateral agreements;

to continue the co-operation already in progress to reduce existing obstacles …;

to submit a biennial report to the Committee of Ministers on its activities in the field of youth mobility".

While giving the CDEJ the authority to monitor implementation of the recommendation, these terms of reference also require it to deliver results in terms of improved youth mobility.

In fact, pursuant to the terms of reference, the following results have been achieved:

  • · Since 1994 the Youth Directorate has produced a compilation of bilateral agreements, which it updates annually to facilitate assessment of how bilateral youth exchanges are developing.
  • · The working party has updated its report on obstacles to mobility, submitted a number of recommendations in this area and outlined priorities for action: namely, to tackle administrative obstacles, particularly visas and their cost.
  • · The first two-yearly report, which ought to have been submitted to the Committee of Ministers at the end of 1997, was postponed to 1998 because the period of time between implementation of the recommendation and its evaluation had been too short for reliable data to have been gathered on all the countries concerned, and progress in eliminating visas had proved impossible.

While the scope of this work has been limited - the aim was, firstly, to promote mobility, then to facilitate it, and finally to make it possible - progress has, none the less, been significant in terms of mobility policy; and has been enhanced by the creation of instruments for furthering youth mobility in practice.

The Youth Card:

In 1991, on the basis of proposals set out in the Lisbon Protocol (1990), the Committee of Ministers adopted Resolution No. R (91) 20, instituting a Partial Agreement on a Youth Card, designed to promote youth mobility in Europe. Fifteen states are currently parties to the agreement. Following a recommendation of the Vienna Conference, exploratory work has begun, involving the International Union of Railways, the European Union Federation of Youth Hostel Associations, Eurodesk, the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA), the European Youth Card Association, the Commission of the European Communities, representatives of youth organisations and the Council of Europe, to examine the feasibility of transforming the Youth Card into a service card to help resolve significant problems in the areas of insurance, transport, accommodation and information - a potentially major step in furthering youth mobility.

The Interrail Card:

Following an appeal to save the Interrail system, made in 1992 by youth organisations at the 2nd European Youth Week in Bratislava and relayed by ministers at the Vienna Conference in April 1993, discussions began in June 1993 between representatives of the Council of Europe, the CDEJ, the statutory bodies of the EYC/EYF and the International Union of Railways. The result, in March 1994, was the establishment of a new Interrail system.

Mobility Fund for Disadvantaged Young people:

A partnership agreement signed in 1994 between the Council of Europe and the International Union of Railways (IUR) led to the establishment of a special fund to pay for rail travel by disadvantaged young people working on European projects. The partnership aims to promote mobility for socially or financially disadvantaged young people, whom the IUR provides with free rail tickets, paid for by a levy of 1 ECU per card on all Interrail cards sold in Europe. The fund thus created is managed by a body comprising representatives of the EYC/EYF Governing Board, and the IUR.

Meanwhile, the CDEJ has taken a complementary initiative on another aspect of mobility, contributing to civic education, intercultural exchanges and the acquisition of a European consciousness: namely, long-term voluntary service abroad or with other young Europeans.

In 1991 it set up a Committee of Experts on Voluntary Service to consider the feasibility of developing voluntary service at European level. The committee's report, completed in October 1993 and adopted by the CDEJ at the end of that month, formed the basis for Recommendation No. R (94) 4 of the Committee of Ministers on the promotion of a voluntary service. The aim of this instrument is to promote all forms of voluntary service, at both national and European level, and particularly, to that end, "to encourage increased co-operation between the European Union and the Council of Europe, in order to create an appropriate political, legal and financial framework of support for voluntary service in all European countries".

Voluntary service then became a priority, taken up at the informal meeting of ministers in Luxembourg in May 1995. There was a need to define the aims of voluntary service more closely, identify problems and obstacles, and analyse young people's motivation, in order to draw up an adequate legal instrument.

The CDEJ's Working Party on Youth Mobility then drew up a preliminary draft convention on the promotion of a transnational, long-term voluntary service for young people and submitted it to the CDEJ, which accepted it in principle at its meeting in March 1996. The working party then revised the text in the light of amendments submitted by the member states, and delivered the final version to the committee at its meeting in October 1997. Having been accepted by the committee, the text was submitted for adoption by the Committee of Ministers in March 1998. This instrument - an extremely important one for promoting voluntary service in Europe - sets out the legal framework for a long-term, transnational voluntary service project, and defines the rights and obligations of the parties.

It should be emphasised in this context that the work of the Council of Europe complements that of the Commission of the European Communities because the convention can serve as a legal framework for voluntary service projects carried out by the Commission, and it thus reflects Recommendation No. R (94) 4, which envisages this type of co-operation.

Finally, mention should be made of another initiative on mobility, launched in 1988 - a study on the implementation of a youth training and exchange programme, aimed at improving the quality of mobility projects - and of a programme of work placements for young civil servants, offering them an introduction to co-operation. Numerous reservations were expressed about these programmes because there was a view that they ought to be set up by individual member states, but they were finally implemented and developed in the context of co-operation with new member states. The Commission of the European Communities has a definite interest in this type of activity and relevant forms of partnership are currently being considered.

From this overview of the CDEJ's work in promoting mobility, it is clear that a number of instruments are now available - both for setting standards and for practical implementation - but a real effort needs to be made to follow them up and monitor both the way in which they are applied and their impact. It is particularly important that the work of all the parties concerned should be co-ordinated so as to develop real mobility, accessible to all young people in Europe.

c.2 Information and counselling for young people

This work grew out of the priorities established by the CAHJE and supported by the first ministerial conference in Strasbourg in 1985. It offers a remarkable example of interaction between standard-setting and practical application.

The work began in 1987 when a Committee of Experts on Information and Counselling for Young People was set up. Recommendation No. R (90) 7 concerning information and counselling for young people in Europe was drafted on the basis of the committee's conclusions. Although non-binding, this text is the first international legal instrument to recognise young people's right to information and to establish criteria for high-quality information. It recommends that the governments of member states:

"…foster and support the creation and/or development of appropriate information and counselling services which observe the following principles: the services should be versatile, the sources varied, and the replies to enquiries comprehensive; young people's right to anonymity should be respected and the information reliable; the service should be accessible to all without discrimination, should be of a non-commercial character and should promote young people's independence".

In 1994 a CDEJ working party assessed how the recommendation was being implemented. One of the conclusions to emerge was that there was a real need to train those in charge of providing information, and that training had to be offered at European level.

The CDEJ then took a policy decision to provide this type of training in order to develop high-quality information for young people that would meet the criteria set out in the recommendation. The decision was given practical effect when a partnership agreement was signed on 2 April 1997 between the Council of Europe and the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA). The thrust of the agreement reflects the requirements of the recommendation, providing, in particular, for training courses aimed at those whose job is to offer information and counselling to young people.

The Governing Board ratified the initiative and the training was included in the work programmes of the EYCs. The first courses took place in December 1998 at the EYC in Budapest, with the help of ERYICA.

This activity illustrates how the process of monitoring the application of even a non-binding international legal instrument can have a practical impact, and demonstrates the necessary role of policy in training initiatives which come under the responsibility of the statutory bodies of the EYCs/EYF.

Extending its activities in the field of information for young people, the CDEJ has currently taken up proposals from the CAHJE and the co-managed sector on young people and the media and plans to study these issues, along with the development of new technologies, from two angles: in terms of ethics - considering how the media can tackle violence and the spread of extremist ideas, and how to support them in this task - and from the point of view of social integration and participation.

The implementation of these initiatives - furthering both information and youth mobility - must be monitored and followed up effectively. Ultimately, they can only be fully understood in the light of their underlying concept - that of youth participation aimed at furthering young people's contribution to the construction of a democratic, pluralist Europe, and encouraging them to take responsibility in the community.

c.3 Youth participation

This recurring theme in the work of the CAHJE and CDEJ - stemming from the philosophy of "working for and with young people" which informs the youth sector at the Council of Europe, and always relevant when co-operating with the youth organisations that collaborate with the Council - is applied in practice through three forms of partnership: consultation, collaboration and co-management.

i) Consultation

The results and conclusions of educational activities carried out by youth organisations and young people through the EYCs/EYF are recorded in reports and summaries in which young people express their views on their future, and these documents can inform and, in some cases, influence the work of the Council of Europe and, more directly, that of the CDEJ. Certain activities, such as the symposia that bring together young people, experts, politicians and people from all walks of life, produce opinions and recommendations for attention at the highest levels of the Council of Europe, via the statutory bodies of the EYCs/EYF.

Young people also have a voice within the Advisory Committee - composed of 24 representative youth organisations and a spokesperson for young people outside traditional organisations - which has the job of bringing forward proposals and opinions to support the work of the Governing Board that manages the EYCs/EYF. The committee is also empowered to express opinions on Council of Europe youth policy and, where appropriate, to draft recommendations to the Committee of Ministers. It is represented, as a non-voting member, on the Co-ordinating Board of the Partial Agreement on the Youth Card and the Co-ordinating Committee of the Partnership Agreement with ERYICA. Its chair takes part in meetings of the European Youth Card Conference, at which 26 national youth card systems are represented.

ii) Co-operative dialogue

This form of partnership involves regular, ongoing dialogue between the various players in the youth sector, where appropriate, can take a joint stand.

At a joint annual meeting, the CDEJ and the Advisory Committee consider their respective activities together, exchange information and compare points of view. In policy terms, this joint meeting is very important because it offers an ideal forum for taking a joint stand on important aspects of government and non-governmental youth work within the Council of Europe.

There is also co-operative dialogue between the Governing Board, the Advisory Committee and the CDEJ. The chairs of the three bodies meet regularly to prepare for joint meetings and, where appropriate, adopt strategies for tackling urgent issues.

When it comes to preparing for ministerial conferences, co-operative dialogue takes the form of participation by two representatives of the body co-ordinating youth organisations which co-operate with the statutory organs of the EYCs/EYF, in meetings of the CDEJ group responsible for preparing for the conference. Since 1998 - having already been invited to sit at the ministers' table - the youth organisations have been asked to present their own evaluation of the preceding conference, in terms of both form and the way in which the recommendations have been implemented. This initiative goes some way beyond any measures taken at national level.

Co-operative dialogue with the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly is also being established, particularly with the Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport: this committee has begun a dialogue with youth organisations through a series of round-table meetings on current issues, which can lead to Assembly initiatives on youth issues. For example, the sub-committee supported the youth campaign to maintain the Interrail system. Co-operative dialogue is also developing with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) and its youth sub-group: for example, a joint CDEJ/CLRAE conference was held in October 1997 to evaluate implementation of the Charter on the Participation of Young People in Municipal and Regional Life, and representatives of youth organisations were invited to take part.

A further form of co-operative dialogue has been developed through a programme of co-operation with the countries of central and eastern Europe - supported by the Council of Europe's Demosthenes programme - with a view to developing democratic, pluralist youth structures. Basically, the programme involves running training courses for people in charge of youth organisations, with the participation of civil servants, thus enabling youth organisations and government representatives to co-operate in considering how to develop youth policy and establish appropriate structures.

Finally, the EYC/EYF programme includes regular consultative meetings so that the Council of Europe's various youth policy partners can evaluate the work of the EYCs/EYF and adapt it to the ever-changing needs in this area.

iii) Co-management

This is the most elaborate form of partnership because it involves sharing decision-making powers equally between representatives of governments and youth organisations. As well as producing joint decisions, it makes the partners responsible for implementing those decisions. It is a formula that ideally illustrates Council of Europe youth policy: fostering effective participation by young people in the forging of a united Europe.

Co-management operates on the Governing Board of the EYCs/EYF, which comprises 12 representatives of governments and 12 of youth organisations. All decisions on granting EYF financial aid and on EYC work programmes are taken by the Governing Board. It is also authorised to forward proposals and recommendations on Council of Europe youth policy to the highest levels in the Organisation. Thus, apart from their role in managing programmes, the governments and youth organisations have an opportunity to demonstrate that - despite the difficulties of reconciling what are sometimes divergent interest and pressures - they can offer a model for participation and partnership that reflects the democratic ideals and objectives of the Council of Europe.

Not only is participation put into practice in this way, but it is also a permanent item on the CDEJ's agenda and has been since the first ministerial conference in 1985, on the theme of youth participation. The issue has been taken up by every ministerial conference since that date, with a view to promoting youth participation at European level, on the basis of the model established by the Council of Europe's youth sector.

The CDEJ has drawn up a number of documents on participation, and its work in examining and consolidating the concept has produced the following publications:

  • · "Compendium of Recommendations on Youth Participation", published in 1998;
  • · "Guide to Participation" for people working in this area, which analyses a number of participation projects and the reasons for their success or failure, and includes a form which young people can use to assess their participation in a project.

Another outcome was the adoption by the Committee of Minister of Recommendation No. R (97) 3 on youth participation and the future of civil society, reaffirming the crucial role of youth participation in the development of civil society and emphasising the need to combat the crisis affecting participation in institutional and community life. The implementation of this resolution constitutes a basis for extending the terms of reference of the CDEJ in the area of participation.

A further result of the work was the launching of a training project entitled "Education for Citizenship" - a tangible product of co-operation with the CLRAE, since it was organised jointly with Youth Planet, a European network of local authorities and youth parliaments, supported by the CLRAE's youth group. This project represents a first step in applying the provisions of the recommendation, which calls for the establishment of "a network of European schemes for young people, particularly those who are disadvantaged". It also anticipated the Action Plan of the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government, in October 1997, which identified education for citizenship as one of the Council of Europe's priorities.

The work of the CDEJ is now being extended to include combating social exclusion and integrating young people on the margins of society, because fostering participation is not in itself a sufficient response to the problems that confront young people in a situation of economic and social upheaval. A pilot project on mediation - seen as a new way of bridging the social divide - was launched in 1997 with a view to enabling young people to become mediators in conflicts between the young and the authorities, between young people from different ethnic groups, young people and their families etc, the idea being to give young people back a role in their social milieu. The CDEJ has been particularly concerned with the policy impact of this project - put forward by the Association européenne des jeunes médiateurs (European Association of Young Mediators) - its innovative nature and the possibility of developing it into a European initiative which could then become a project of common interest, included by the Governing Board in EYCs' work programmes.

In the context of a comprehensive, integrated youth policy, geared to tackling the full range of problems that young people face and to developing co-ordination between the various services that deal with them, the CDEJ decided to re-appropriate an active role in the social field by developing initiatives to help young people integrate into society. This issue had earlier been one of the CAHJE's priorities - particularly in relation to youth unemployment. There was provision for exchanging information on government and non-governmental measures and evaluating their results on an ongoing basis, and for collecting and disseminating information on pilot projects that offered solutions and alternatives in the areas of work, education and leisure.

In the present situation in Europe, where, despite differences from country to country, certain common features are apparent - namely a decline in democratic participation and an increase in social exclusion - participation and social cohesion are becoming the two key areas of the work of the CDEJ, which sees mobility and information as means of integrating young people into society.

Lastly, under Recommendation No. R (92) 7 concerning communication and co-operation in the field of youth research in Europe, the CDEJ is setting up a further instrument to record as accurately as possible the situation of young people and national youth policies in Europe: a European network of correspondents working the field of youth research, supported within the Youth Directorate by a research and documentation unit whose task is will be to evaluate, encourage and co-ordinate research work in Europe, and to channel and direct requests for information.

              d) To co-operate with the Governing Board and the Advisory Committee of the Centres and the Fund in their fields of competence, as well as with other steering or ad hoc committees in the implementation of projects involving several fields of activity

Co-operation with the Governing Board and the Advisory Committee has been described in the section on participation.

The CDEJ has so far co-operated in three joint projects involving several fields of activity, or multidisciplinary projects:

i) "Childhood policies", a project launched by the Directorate of Social Affairs: there was a problem here with the definition of age limits - 0-18 years for childhood, according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and 15-25 for youth, according to the CDEJ - and it was felt that childhood policies could not be applied in the youth sector. Because this issue was not resolved, the CDEJ could not become closely involved in the project, although it is recognised that the Council of Europe's work on childhood policies must be taken into account as part of an overall policy to foster participation by young people (Recommendation No. R (97) 3 of the Committee of Ministers on youth participation and the future of civil society). The DASE and the EYC did, however, launch a joint initiative to support organisations working with children in Russia.

ii) "Human Rights and Genuine Democracy", a project launched by the Directorate of Human Rights. Here too, results were inconclusive as the CDEJ merely contributed a text on participation to the project report, and no joint action resulted.

iii) "Human Dignity and Social Exclusion", a project launched by the Directorate of Social Affairs. Results here were more conclusive: a mediation initiative was launched, a contribution to the project which enabled the CDEJ to extend the scope of its work to include combating social exclusion among young people; and a selection of short video films submitted by members of the CDEJ, on projects that successfully combated social exclusion, was contributed to the project's final conference.

Currently - following the inclusion in the action plan of the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government (in Strasbourg in October 1997) of new programmes to foster education for citizenship - a joint scheme is being launched with the Directorate of Education, Culture and Sport via its "Education for Democratic Citizenship" Project Group.

The CDEJ has not so far taken the initiative in a multidisciplinary project, although youth issues - which provide a classic opportunity for cross-disciplinary activity - could well be the subject of such an approach. Co-operation has taken place in the context of educational and intergovernmental activities - for example, preparing for a symposium on young people and the media with the Directorate of Social Affairs (childhood policies project) and the Directorate of Human Rights (European Steering Committee on the Mass Media) - but it has often been of a one off nature, without any follow-up. The directorate-based structure of the Council of Europe clearly does not encourage decompartmentalisation and project-based co-operation, but the CDEJ must see co-operation with other sectors of the organisation as a way of demonstrating its determination to push for a comprehensive, integrated youth policy at European level.

At the same time, there is ongoing co-operation with other sectors of the Council of Europe, notably the Parliamentary Assembly's Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport, whose representatives regularly attend meetings of the CDEJ and ministerial conferences as observers, while members of the CDEJ take part in round tables and debates on the situation of young people, organised by the Assembly - most recently in April 1996. Co-operation is also being developed with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and its youth sub-group, and in October 1997 there was a jointly organised conference to evaluate the implementation of the Charter on the Participation of Young People in Municipal and Regional Life.

              e) To prepare the Conferences of Ministers responsible for Youth Affairs and ensure the follow up thereto …

To date, four conferences and one informal meeting have been held:

  • · in Strasbourg in 1985, on the participation of young people in society;
  • · in Oslo in 1988, on strategies for European youth policies in the approach to the year 2000;
  • · in Lisbon in 1990, on youth mobility in Europe;
  • · in Vienna in 1993, on young people in Greater Europe;
  • · in Luxembourg in 1995, for an appraisal of, and consideration of the prospects for, youth activities in the Council of Europe.

The decision to organise conferences at regular intervals followed from the recommendations of the first conference, which called on "the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (to) give further impetus to the youth policy pursued by the Council's organs and

to this end:

(to) recognise the importance of regular Conferences of European Ministers responsible for Youth, to be held every two or three years at the invitation of member states …".

The purpose of the conferences is to debate the situation of young people in Europe at the highest level, to work out priorities for action by the CDEJ, and to evaluate at each conference how the recommendations of the previous one have been followed up.

The first two conferences set out a framework and priorities for intergovernmental co-operation. The third dealt with a specific issue - youth mobility - and its work formed the basis for a draft framework convention on youth mobility. The fourth conference had great political importance. It was the first to be held since the democratisation of eastern Europe, and it offered an opportunity to review all the issues previously tackled, in the light of the new developments and the context of co-operation with the new member states.

However, a number of problems have been encountered in organising these conferences:

  • · it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to get free and open debate among the ministers;
  • · it has been difficult to assess follow-up to the conferences at national level;
  • · the growing number of participants - more than 300 in Vienna - entails ever-increasing costs and cumbersome organisational structures which have a numbing effect on activity and debate.

Following the Vienna Conference, discussions began on the organisation of conferences and on the CDEJ's working methods, and the following decisions were taken: informal meetings on specific current issues were to alternate with official conferences; meetings and conferences were to be slimmed down to allow for real debate among the ministers. The programme for the fifth conference has been prepared with this approach in mind: it proposes three round tables where ministers, representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly, the CLRAE and the Commission of the European Communities, observers, researchers and young people will be able to compare their views on participation, social exclusion and young people's rights.

              f) Co-operation with international intergovernmental organisations and the European Union

Every conference, since the first one in Strasbourg in 1985, has recommended maintaining and encouraging sustained co-operation in the youth sector with the United Nations system - particularly UNESCO, ILO, WHO and UNICEF - and consolidating the Council's special links with the European Union.

It has to be recognised that co-operation with international organisations has remained a dead letter, confined to participation by UNESCO, ILO, WHO and UNICEF in ministerial conferences, without producing any collaborative activities. Thus there has been no follow-up to the 1991 "Youth Links" project, a joint activity with UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the North-South Centre and the Portuguese Government

Concerning the co-operation with the European Union, Resolution (85)5 constitutes for the Council of Europe the framework of co-operation with EEC. In 1989, the Task Force set up within the Commission, replaced since by a General Directorate, DG XXII, became the principal partner of the CDEJ within the co-operation in the youth field between the European Union and the Council of Europe.

Despite promising prospects, this co-operation often remained at the level of sending of observers to meetings, due in particular to the fact the European Union was reluctant to consider the Council of Europe as a partner on an equal footing.

The first fields of co-operation were youth information and the training of the leaders of youth organisations. As regard mobility and youth exchanges, many conferences were organised by the European union (Potsdam, Bonn, Kiev), with the participation of the Council of Europe and the Eastern and Central European countries on the promotion and harmonisation of youth exchanges.

Since the meeting of December 1993 between the Commissioner Mr Ruberti and Mrs Lalumière, Former Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the following points of co-operation were put on the agenda:

  • · annual meeting between secretariats
  • · improvement of co-operation in order to promote the setting up of democratic and pluralistic youth structures in Eastern and Central European countries
  • · study of the possibilities of holding joint activities or activities of the European Union in the Budapest Centre
  • · development of co-operation in the field of documentation and research and management of common data in the field of youth

Since October 1994, the official meeting of the three presidencies (past, present and future) of the European Union, Chairpersons of the CDEJ, Governing Board and Advisory Committee, representatives of Youth Forum and the Youth Directorate has been organised in order to relaunch the co-operation. But this attempt to institutionnalise this kind of meetings failed.

In January 1995, during a joint meeting, the main convergent points and actions were defined. One of the priorities in the years to come should be to develop a spirit of solidarity between young people, in particular through the development of voluntary service.

Several convergent fields and actions are then defined :

In the youth mobility field:

  • · To develop physical and virtual mobility in order to create a common multicultural European area.
  • · The urgency and necessity of removing obstacles to mobility, in particular administrative problems (visas), social protection, civil responsibility and others, in particular by transforming the Youth card into a service card;
  • · Development of training courses which aims to improve the efficiency and quality of mobility

In the information field:

Improve access of young people by:

  • · exchange of experience between those in charge of youth information ; development of joint activities for the training of professionnals and/or volunteers in the information field
  • · networking of information structures for young people, with easy access to these networks, in particular for the Council of Europe, through a partnership agreement with ERYICA, and for the European Union networking of data, development of a project on data bases on European information
  • · Co-operation projects with Eastern and Central European countries, the purpose of which should be to develop new youth information structures in accordance with the code of practice of Recommendation (90)7. The Council of Europe envisaged then a partnership agreement with ERYICA, followed eventually by a Partial Agreement, as was the case for the Youth Card.

In the field of participation (active citizenship):

The Council of Europe has drafted several studies at intergovernmental level (CDEJ and ministerial conferences) and in co-operation with the previous Conference on Local and Regional Authorities. The European Union has undertaken an important project on European citizenship. The principal convergent points should be participation at local level, in the framework of training for citizenship, and stress on the positive actions of social integration achieved or to be promoted with the co-operation or the support of voluntary organisations. It should also be the collection of data on young people's situation, the co-ordination of research efforts, the collection of information on young people's needs; on co-operation at local level for concerted actions (for example: fight against intolerance) in the framework of the Youth Card, of voluntary service, of Youth Initiatives, of the project "young mediators" in co-operation with youth organisations.

In the field of research and documentation:

The Council of Europe and the European Union should stress their interest in independent research "in the youth field". The notion of "independence" refers to the point of departure and not to the methodology or the segmentation of the research field; the main characteristic is "youth" research carried out in the interests of young people, with young people, to develop, among other things, information concerning them, facilitating their independence and their decisions in life and their participation in society. A common interest in setting up a co-ordination structure on research matters and the diffusion of results also exists. The Luxembourg government would like to set up a small structure in Luxembourg, for the needs of both the European Union and the Council of Europe.

In the field of legislation:

In this field, there is a convergent interest at two levels: the institutional character of youth structures within governmental youth activities in each country, including the ministerial, parliamentary structures, but also the ways of financing youth organisations, their recognition, etc. The fundamental co-ordination role of youth ministries should be stressed as regards all the economic, social and cultural questions concerning young people.

At present, it is difficult to implement a global integrated youth policy, as the Youth Ministers are not always competent in the fields where an intervention should be necessary, for example employment, education, housing, social protection, etc. This is why their coordinating role is so important.

In the Council of Europe, a comparative analysis of the different relevant legislations of the Contracting Parties to the European Cultural Convention is prepared to this aim.

In the field of the fight against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance:

In the framework of the follow-up to the campaign against racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and intolerance by permanent action in civil society, in the youth community, through measures such as integrated training (i.e. intercultural training, and the fight against racism)..

In the field of East/West co-operation:

This question should be dealt with in both reports in reference to all the fields mentioned above. An exchange of information on the action undertaken (training, seminars, exchanges) should be organised, and concrete co-operation defined case by case on precise actions in liaison with the youth organisations.

In the field of training:

Training is present in all these fields of co-operation, and must give to professionals, volunteers, multipliers and tutors the means to continually adapt their working methods to a society which changes quickly, in order to allow them to play their role in European development: co-operation in training could be included in training activities, staff exchanges, short study visits, information seminars... to be developed during concertation meetings.

From this ambitious programme very little was carried out, except some occasional training courses. Thus the Commission does not wish, for the moment, to join the Partnership Agreement with ERYICA, and does not want to sign the Convention of long-term transnational voluntary service, while recognising that this instrument is complementary to its activity on voluntary service and could be used as a legal framework.

However, now new prospects seem to be developing again. An initial meeting has already been held between EU and Council of Europe officials in February 1998 to establish partnerships and make the most of existing synergies, a new co-operation programme was set-up : training courses were planned for this year under the "Youth for Europe" programme aiming to improve the quality of teaching in a European context and thus improve skills related to the setting up and management of projects.

Further meetings were planned with the aim of setting up longer-term partnerships to design new training modules which would focus on courses in basic subjects such as the management and running of a youth organisation, work with disadvantaged young people, mobility for disadvantaged and disabled young people, and the prevention of drug abuse, and would be aimed at leaders of NGOs, tutors, social workers and local government officials, who could act as multipliers and disseminators of information.

These proposals were to be implemented through the signing of a co-operation agreement, with a budget of 500,000 Ecus, specifying the fields of activity and the partnerships envisaged.

Another partnership project organised around the Youth Card, at the Council of Europe’s initiative, is in progress: at an initial exploratory meeting attended by representatives of the International Union of Railways, the Youth Hostel Federation, the European Association of Youth Cards, ERYICA, Eurodesk, the European Commission’s DG XXII, and the Youth Directorate and its statutory bodies, consideration had been given to the possibilities of reaching an agreement on a multilateral activity with specific shared objectives such as mobility or information. This meeting should be followed by a second one organised by DG XXII in order to concretise this common aims.

After the various unproductive attempts at co-operation, this new initiative on training and the Youth Card is to be welcomed; it would be desirable for co-operation to continue on a permanent basis and - as recommended by the Vienna Conference in 1993 - to extend to youth mobility, information, research and documentation.

              g) Co-operation with the new member states

This type of co-operation is not specifically mentioned in the terms of reference of the CDEJ but has developed in practice following the rapid enlargement of the Council of Europe. Since 1984 the number of member states of the Council has climbed from 21 to 40, and seven states which are not members of the organisation are now parties to the European Cultural Convention. The key challenge for the organisation now is to integrate these new countries, which have emerged following the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and to safeguard democratic security - and with it democratic stability - on the continent of Europe.

Against this backdrop, it has become urgently necessary to develop and reinforce democratic cohesion and to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly by strengthening intergovernmental co-operation and developing new partnerships. Exchanges of information, collaboration, the sharing of experience and technical assistance are proving more essential than ever in the context of economic upheaval and political instability, and are developing rapidly, particularly in response to requests from central and eastern European countries, where youth policies have to be reshaped from the ground up - requiring the entire youth sector to adapt rapidly to the new situation, in some cases by refocusing its activities and re-examining its working methods. These developments are not described here, but are the subject of a separate document on co-operation with the new member states.


As regards results achieved in the area of intergovernmental co-operation, the CDEJ has established - through the instruments adopted - a framework for its activities in the European youth sector (see list below), particularly in the areas of participation, mobility and information for young people, allowing it to develop a number of practical activities with a view to elaborating a European youth policy in these areas. However, certain CDEJ projects have not succeeded, for example those on:

  • · the situation of women and young women, an important theme of the CDEJ's early work which was gradually abandoned, although equality of opportunity for men and women has by no means been achieved - for example, the current rate of female unemployment is 30% higher than the male rate;
  • · in 1982 a motion for a recommendation on paid educational leave for participation in international youth activities was not followed up;
  • · there has been no effective follow-up to Recommendation 33b on young people's accommodation, made at the first conference, or to the proposal to hold a conference on this subject;
  • · as regards unemployment, a proposal to collate information on measures taken and engage in ongoing evaluation will never be implemented by the CDEJ, which, for its part, deplores the poor mobilisation by youth organisations around the problems of unemployment and training;

when the CDEJ approved and supported Recommendation 1019 (1985) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the participation of young people in political and institutional life, and invited the Governing Board to implement its principles, this initiative had little practical effect.

None the less, the CDEJ's work is evolving: this is evident in the will to help establish a comprehensive, integrated European youth policy and to tackle issues which may not fall directly within its sphere of responsibility, particularly in the areas of social and educational work: for example, combating unemployment and social exclusion among young people. Without seeking to impinge on the areas for which the relevant ministries are responsible, the intention is to ensure that all measures taken as part of a youth policy to foster integration and participation by young people in society should be co-ordinated, and should promote real equality of opportunity. In particular, this means co-operating with the other sectors involved in seeking solutions to social problems, such as employment, accommodation, social insurance, and educational problems, such as the recognition of qualifications and informal education and training; and practising a genuinely intersectoral policy.

      4. Results obtained since the Conference of European ministers responsible for youth, Vienna 1993, and the Informal Meeting of European ministers responsible for youth, Luxembourg, 1995

              h) Fostering enterprise and participation among young people:

A pilot project on mediation, launched as part of the multidisciplinary "Human Dignity and Social Exclusion" project;

A joint CLRAE/CDEJ conference to evaluate implementation of the Charter on the Participation of Young People in Municipal and Regional Life and, as a result, a training course on education for citizenship;

Adoption by the Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. R (97) 3 on "youth participation and the future of civil society", drafted by the CDEJ;

Publications: Compendium of Recommendations on Youth Participation; Guide to Participation, for use by those working in this area;

A study on participation among students, pupils and trainees, at school, university and training centres.

              i) The promotion of youth mobility and exchanges:

Adoption of a recommendation on youth mobility, with instructions to the CDEJ to monitor progress and report to the Committee of Ministers;

Review of barriers to mobility and decision on priority measures to reduce or eliminate administrative barriers, particularly problems with visas and their cost;

Recommendation on the promotion of a voluntary service, and Convention on Long-Term, Transnational Voluntary Service;

Exploratory work with the International Union of Railways, the European Youth Card Association, the European Union Federation of Youth Hostel Associations, Eurodesk, ERYICA, the CDEJ, the Advisory Committee and the Commission of the European Communities with a view to transforming the Youth Card into a service card;

Maintenance of the Interrail system;

Establishment of a mobility fund for disadvantaged young people, through partnership between the IUR and the Council of Europe.

              j) The training of youth leaders and support for youth organisations:

Establishment of a second EYC in Budapest

Development of training courses

Setting up and development of a specific co-operation programme with the European central and Eastern countries in the framework of the Demosthenes programme in order to support the setting-up and the development of the youth work and structures for the reinforcement of civil society.

              k) Information for young people:

Evaluation of the implementation of Recommendation No. R (90) 7 on information and counselling for young people;

ERYICA/Council of Europe partnership agreement covering, in particular, training for people who provide information and counselling to young people;

A study of young people's information needs;

A training course for people who provide information and counselling to young people.

Research and documentation within the Youth Directorate:

Establishment of a network of youth research correspondents;

Creation of a Youth Directorate home page on the Internet;

An on-line directory of youth researchers;

Establishment of a bibliographic database.

      5. List of the instruments elaborated by the youth sector of the Council of Europe at the service of a European youth policy

  • · Resolution (91) 20 instituting a Partial agreement on the youth card for the purpose of promoting and facilitating youth mobility in Europe
    (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 13 September 1991 at the 461st meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
  • · Partnership Agreement between the International Union of Railways and the Council of Europe (signed on the 16 December 1994)
  • · Partnership Agreement between the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA) (signed on the 2nd April 1997)


  • · Recommendation N° R (90) 7
    Of the Committee of Ministers to Member states concerning Information and counselling for Young people in Europe
    (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 21 February 1990 at the 434th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
  • · Recommendation N° R (92) 7
    Of the Committee of Ministers to Member states concerning communication and co-operation in the field of youth research in Europe
    (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 18 May 1992 at the 476th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
  • · Recommendation N° R (94) 4
    Of the Committee of Ministers to Member states on the promotion of a voluntary service
    (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 24 May 1994 at the 513th meeting of the Ministers’Deputies)
  • · Recommendation N° R (95) 18
    Of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on youth mobility
    (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 12 October 1995 at the 545th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
  • · Recommendation N° R (97) 3
    Of the Committee of Ministers to Member states on youth participation and the future of civil society
    (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 4 February 1997 at the 583rd meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
  • · Draft Convention on trans-national long-term voluntary service



The youth sector of the Council of Europe, at its creation, first established pedagogical tools, the European Youth Centre and the European Youth Foundations in order to allow young Europeans involved in youth organisations to meet and discuss topics concerning them, express their ideas on Europe and society and receive training for international youth work

      1. The European Youth Centres

The European Youth Centre are residential education centres providing young people involved in youth organisations the following activities:

  • · study sessions lasting one week, organised with the help of international non-governmental youth organisations, which propose their themes and programmes. A team of professionnal tutors who provide educational and technical assistance for the preparation, running and follow-up of the sessions.
  • · training courses for future youth organisations leaders wishing to familiarise themselves with international youth activities. A long-term training course is also offered to those involved in the youth field, who wish to enhance their professional experience.
  • · language courses in German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and since 1997 in Russian provide young leaders of youth organisations with the linguistic training they need for their European activities.
  • · symposia, conferences and consultative meetings : symposia and conferences enabling a wide range of youth organisations, experts and those involved in political and social life to discuss topical issues such as intolerance and racism, the euro-arab dialogue or the situation of young rurals. Consultative meetings are organised by the EYCs on specific aspects of the work of the youth sector, such as the co-operation with the new Member States, training, intercultural learning, etc.
  • · a co-operation and assistance programme with Central and Eastern European countries, designed to support or promote democratic and pluralistic youth work and structures in those countries as well as European co-operation. This programme includes various activities such as training courses in the countries concerned, study visits, counselling on the development on youth policies, the production and translation of educational materials, the provision of experts and the reception of trainees, provision of individual grants to youth organisations leaders for training courses in Western European youth organisations in order to get familiar with the role and functioning of the youth organisations within the civil society.
  • · a research and documentation unit responsible for assessing, stimulating and co-ordinating research activities in Europe as well as channelling and forwarding requests for information. Through the European network of researchers, it develops contacts and co-operation between researchers, youth organisations and governments. With a data bank, seminars and training courses, this sector aims to promote multinational comparative research. A documentation centre (library) is available for the EYC's users. In particular, it offers trainees the possibility of consulting Council of Europe documents.

See table:  Statistics on the activities held in the EYC since 1971

This statistical analysis reflects the overall development of educational work in the Council of Europe's youth sector from its establishment to the present day (1971-97). The work includes, in particular, training and language courses, study sessions, conferences and various activities for young people. Top-to-bottom analysis of the figures highlights the major trends that have affected each of the various forms of activity over the period.

Study sessions

The figure for the total number of study sessions carried out at the European Youth Centres in Strasbourg and Budapest applies only from 1974 onwards. From 1971 to 1974 the figure refers chiefly to information courses rather than actual study sessions.

To give some idea of the extent of this activity over the period in question, we calculated the average number of study sessions per year: the total number was 792, ie an annual average of 33 sessions over the 24 years of activity.

The total annual number of study sessions has climbed markedly and regularly, from 18 in 1974 to 54 in 1977 - in other words, a tripling of activity over the period.

Since 1979 onwards there have been at least 30 sessions per year, ie this level of activity was reached just five years after the sessions were launched.

The figure of 54 sessions in 1997 represents an increase of 23% over 1996, 46% over 1993, 80% over 1983, and more than 100% over 1978 (+ 170% against the 1975 figure).

The rate of growth accelerated significantly over the last four years and it should be noted that this upswing coincided with the launch of activities at the European Youth Centre in Budapest, where the workload has grown steadily over the period. In 1994 there was a total of 45 study sessions, seven - or 15.5% - of them in Budapest. In 1995, nine - or 22.5% - of the 40 sessions were not in Strasbourg. A year later, one-third of the 44 sessions were held in Budapest; in other words the number held in Budapest has grown by 16% since 1994.

The breakdown of the figure for study sessions changed most markedly between 1996 and 1997. In the latter year, 24 out of 54 sessions were held in Budapest - ie 45%. In other words, this "external" activity has been growing more and more strongly, in terms of both relative and absolute value.

Language courses

The number of language courses has also increased quite markedly. While these courses are, in their way, part of the educational activity of the Centres, there are three to five times as many study sessions as language courses. A look at the average annual number of courses between 1971 and 1997 confirms this approximation: the figure is 6.4, ie 4.5 times less than the average number of study sessions.

In overall terms, the annual number of language courses has grown steadily, from 3 in 1971 to 12 in 1997 - a quadrupling of activity over the period.

Training courses

As regards training courses, these only began properly in 1979, eight years after the language courses.

Over the period in question, the average annual number of training courses, 5.2, was slightly lower than that of language courses. This relatively modest tally reflects, in particular, both the delay in starting the process and a growth rate which was gradual until 1993, when it began to accelerate, largely as a result of training activities in central and eastern European countries

Initially, between 1979 and 1981, there was just one training course annually. Then, between 1982 and 1989, the number rose to two. From 1990 onwards it grew more significantly, reaching five for the period between 1990 and 1992. From 1993 onwards, although the annual number of "traditional" training courses remained more or less constant, showing only a slight increase between 1993 and 1997 - from four to seven - courses for and in central and eastern European countries were added to the list in this category, boosting the overall training growth rate to an unprecedented level. In fact, in 1993 only 50% of the training involved "traditional" courses (there were four "traditional" courses and four for central and eastern European countries). The democratic trend in this strand of educational activity developed even more markedly in the following years (in 1994 there were five "traditional" courses and four for central and eastern European countries; in 1997 the ratio was 7:7).

In 1995 there were an additional five courses for minorities, bringing the total for all types of courses in the year, to fifteen. Since that year, the level of activity has been three times that of 1992. The figure was more or less constant between 1995 and 1997, apart from courses for minorities. Not only do the statistics reflect the satisfactory development of this strand of activity, in absolute terms, but a breakdown of the figures for the last five years shows that the work has been increasingly extensive and diversified. Since 1995, the number of training courses has equalled or exceeded that of language courses.

Symposia, conferences and other meetings

While the Centres' educational work focuses heavily on training, it is not confined to that area, but includes symposia, conferences and other meetings. These have totalled on average 2.3 per year in the period under consideration (from 1979 to 1997).

This type of work was launched at the same time as the training courses. But, by contrast to the trend in that area, the number of conferences has fallen significantly and regularly over the years. In fact, while there were five to six symposia or conferences per year between 1979 and 1983, the figure fell sharply to two per year between 1984 and 1989.

An indication of the respective proportions of each strand of activity can be obtained by comparing the average number of conferences with averages for the other types of activity listed above. The figure is half that for training courses and one-third that for language courses.

A further form of educational activity, since 1971, has been that of consultative meetings. As the average number of such meetings per year over the whole period was two, it follows that for most of the years (63%) the total number of meetings did not exceed two: in fact, for 45% of the period there was only one meeting per year, and in 70% of those years when the average number of meetings was between one and two, only one meeting took place.

A further strand of the Centre's work comes under the heading "other" activities, which includes self-funded activities, joint sessions and European youth weeks (the first in 1985, the second in 1992 and the third in 1995). The last of these weeks was an exceptional event - part of the campaign against racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and intolerance - and it has been counted separately so as not to distort the statistics for other activities under the same heading.

This category of activity began in 1974, at the same time as the first study sessions at the EYC in Strasbourg. Initially and for a number of years (1974-97), the meetings were basically joint sessions of the Council for Cultural Co-operation and the EYC.

Self-funded activities

Self-funded activities began in 1975 and have continued to the present. Their number has ranged between one and twelve annually, except in 1996 and 1997, when the figure was substantially boosted by an increased proportion of self-funding for activities in Budapest. On the basis of these figures, the annual number of such activities is 3.5.

The number of self-funded activities at the EYC in Strasbourg fluctuated frequently over the period, showing no sustained increase. However, there is evidence of a collective tendency towards an overall increase in self-funded activities. There were ten years - 44% of the entire period - when at least four self-funded activities took place, and over the last twelve years (1986-97) the corresponding figure is 66%.

Educational impact

It is impossible to discuss the educational impact of any of these activities without referring to the young people who participated in all the different training modules, whatever their form and content. Their numbers have been recorded relatively accurately over the last decade, but figures for the early years of operation of the various training schemes are much less reliable.

For this reason, the numbers have been estimated in order to give at least a partial overview of the full spectrum of work, as observed, apart from those activities in the "other" column.

The total number of participants was just over 35,000 in the 27 years of work considered here - in other words, an annual total of around 1,300.

The annual number of participants increased ten-fold between 1971 and 1997. From 200 in 1971, the figure rose to 2,000 in 1996 and has risen further since.

A growth curve for the 25-year period shows this progression clearly.

In 1979, the number of participants topped 1,000, by 1986 the total was 1,500, and it reached 2,000 ten years later.

Between 1971 and 1978 the annual number of participants rose from 200 to almost 900, an increase of 450% in eight years, with growth spread evenly over the period.

By 1979 there were 1,350 participants, an increase of 53% over the previous year. From then until 1985 the figure varied only slightly, by +/- 10% against 1979.

In 1986 however, the number of participants rose sharply and it never again fell under a level of 1,500 young people. There was an average increase between 1986 and 1992 of at least 10%, against the figures for 1979-85. The rate of growth was impressive, particularly between 1986 and 1989, when the number of participants rose from 1,550 to around 1,800, a 16% increase in three years.

Between 1993 and 1997 the number of participants rose again, reaching a range of between 1,800 and 2,100, and average annual growth was more marked from 1993 onwards. This upward trend may partly reflect the ever-growing rate of participation by young people from central and eastern European countries in the activities of the EYCs. That being so, and given the present rate of growth, it is likely that the level of 2,500 participants will be reached or exceeded by the year 2000.

Overall, the statistics show that young people are taking part in ever-increasing numbers in the Council of Europe's youth sector work - a reflection of their interest in this type of activity. Furthermore, the increasing number of participants from the new member states would seem to confirm that young people from central and eastern Europe are being integrated into the activities of the EYCs - something that the Youth Directorate sees as a priority - and indicates a renewal of voluntary sector activity in these countries. This development is fully in accordance with a recommendation of the Vienna Conference (1993):

"With a view to the development of the voluntary sector in the framework of democratic and pluralistic structures in central and eastern Europe, the provision of a second European Youth Centre in central Europe and the implementation of the training policy expounded in the recommendation adopted by the Governing Board of the EYC/EYF … taking into account … increased participation by young people from Central and Eastern Europe in the activities of the EYC/EYF."

The EYCs are also trying to adapt to meet the increased training needs, as illustrated by the extension of the programme of training courses for youth workers. Insofar as its resources have permitted, the Youth Directorate has increased its activity in this area (training courses for trainers, long-term courses and training activities in central and eastern Europe).

In response to heavy demand for language training, the number of language courses is also increasing and this now poses the real problem of what priority to give to such courses, and how to fund them.

As regards the content of the work carried out by youth organisations through the EYC, it is clear - notwithstanding the diversity of youth sector activities - that priority is currently being given to the following issues:

  • · young people's citizenship in Europe and the development of civil society;
  • · conditions for the integration of young people into society;
  • · combating racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance;
  • · youth mobility in Europe.

These themes, which reflect the concerns expressed by young people, are also those being tackled by the CDEJ. There is thus interaction between the work of the non-governmental and intergovernmental sectors.

It has to be said, however, that the results of all these activities - particularly the study sessions - are little known or unrecognised, both as regards the contribution that they make to youth sector work and in relation to their snowball effect. In order to improve this situation, the research section of the Youth Directorate is preparing a methodology for reports of study sessions, at the EYCs. Better use must be made of the results of seminars held by youth organisations, and greater value placed on them, because there is no doubt that they constitute a significant contribution to the Council of Europe's work in the youth sector.

      2. The European Youth Foundation

The European Youth Foundation, an innovative instrument of European co-operation, was set up in 1972 to provide financial support for international youth activities carried out by national or international youth organisations.

Its purpose is to promote associative life at European level and to support multilateral youth activities (involving the participation of young people of several nationalities) in order to supplement the large number of bilateral exchange programmes implemented under agreements between governments and by youth organisations. The European Youth Foundation can give its financial support to youth activities aimed to promote peace, understanding and co-operation between the peoples of Europe and the world, whilst respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

With a budget about 15 million French Francs (1996) the European Youth Foundation supports youth meetings, publications and study visits and covers part of the administrative costs of European youth organisations. The Foundation's budget consists of voluntary financial contributions from its Member States.

In order to qualify for financial support, projects must be organised by an international non-governmental youth organisation or by national organisations in at least four different countries working together, or by young people (from at least four countries) who are not members of traditional associations.

Three types of financial support can be granted :

  • · financial support for youth meetings. Statutory meetings, sports events and tourist activities cannot be taken into account
  • · financial support for publications and information material, research projects in the youth field and study visits. The European Youth Foundation cannot participate in the financing of commercial activities or the construction, purchase and fitting-out of buildings.
  • · financial support for international non-governmental youth organisations organisations with a European structure or Secretariat.

See table:  Statistics on the activities of the EYF

The figures show the growth in activities financed by the Foundation, and its significant role in establishing and developing voluntary sector activity in Europe and promoting pan-European co-operation in the youth sector: in fact, since the Foundation was set up, more than 180,000 young Europeans have been enabled to participate in international activities, and more than 3,000 projects have been carried out. The Foundation also represents an essential adjunct to the Demosthenes Programme in supporting training activities: in 1995, 36% of all participants in activities financed by the Foundation were from central and eastern Europe, and around 30% of youth encounters supported by the Foundation took place there.

As regards the major themes tackled through these activities, it is clear from the way they have developed that they reflect the central thrust of the CDEJ's work - developing democracy through participation, education for citizenship, and combating social exclusion. There is a clear parallel here between the work of the government and non-government sectors.

However, the EYF's role in achieving objectives and ensuring that priorities are observed is changing. Whereas in the past it largely confined itself to financing youth organisations' activities, it is now becoming more involved in projects that concern all the players in the Council of Europe's youth policy, such as those carried out under the Demosthenes Programme or on the initiative of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe or the CDEJ. It has, for example, financed information training courses under the Partnership Agreement with ERYICA.

Moreover, in response to significant developments in youth work and forms of youth participation which reflect profound changes in society and are characterised by more or less informal networks, often based on local projects geared to tackling specific social problems, the EYF is adapting its activities to address the new situation. In particular, this has meant an increase in funding from the Foundation for projects that involve young people outside traditional forms of organisation, and for local projects to combat racism and xenophobia.

Since 1995 the work of the EYF has been complemented by that of the Mobility Fund for Disadvantaged Young People, set up in partnership with the International Union of Railways. In some cases this fund may also be used to complement financing provided by the EYF for projects for disadvantaged young people. So far, the new fund has been very successful: in 1997, for example, 70 projects were financed and 90% of the partner organisations involved were new ones. Partner organisations are also beginning to approach the EYF for assistance with valuable pilot projects, geared mainly to combating social exclusion and unemployment.

Finally, alongside these activities, the Youth Directorate is currently developing a publishing policy with a view to preparing and disseminating teaching aids and discussion documents based on work that it has done at both government and non-government level. For example, publications so far include texts on voluntary youth sector activity in Europe, participation, young people and the information society, and a "Guide to participation", intended for those working in the field.

Priority issues in the projects subsidised by the EYF


1 Leader training, information

  • · youth organisations' work and development
  • · training of youth leaders
  • · educational materials and information

2 Socio-economic realities

  • · unemployment, employment
  • · the working world
  • · the rural world
  • · trade-unionism

3 Human rights/democracy

  • · participation/democracy/citizenship
  • · human rights
  • · minorities/racism
  • · the situation of women

4 Europe: construction and co-operation

  • · European co-operation
  • · security
  • · peripheral countries/southern Europe

5 Youth lifestyle, culture, values

6 Peace

7 Youth problems

  • · social exclusion/marginalised youth
  • · the situation of children
  • · drug abuse
  • · handicapped young people

8 North-South

9 Environment

10 Educational systems in Europe

11 Youth policies

1 Europe: construction and co-operation

  • · European integration, especially central and eastern Europe
  • · European identity

2 Human rights/democracy

  • · human right education
  • · minorities
  • · combating racism and intolerance
  • · children s' rights
  • · the situation of women

3 Leader training/information

  • · youth organisations' work
  • · training of youth leaders
  • · production of educational materials/information

4 Socio-economic realities

  • · unemployment
  • · social exclusion
  • · rural world
  • · drug abuse
  • · handicapped youth

5 Environment
6 North-South/development

III. Prospects for the future 

The Council of Europe's youth sector - established in an attempt to address young people's expectations in the 1970s - has discharged its mission by developing, down the years, a number of distinct but complementary instruments: the European Youth Centres, the European Youth Foundation, and a structure for intergovernmental co-operation. In their respective areas, these organs are implementing a European youth policy, which makes Europe accessible to young people, and makes the young aware of Europe.

As a forum for exchanging ideas and assessing national youth policies, the CDEJ is gradually extending its task by drawing up standard-setting instruments and establishing new partnerships in areas of activity identified by its predecessor committee, the CAHJE - in many cases following initiatives proposed and developed by youth organisations - such as mobility, information and participation, and from this basis it has been able to undertake practical action, ensure follow-up in the implementation of the instruments at European level, and thus encourage the development of youth policies in Europe.

For their part, the European Youth Centres are expanding their educational activities, in order to respond better to young people's needs, by increasing the number of training courses - participants in which can then pass on what they have learned, spreading the values of the Council of Europe and thus contributing to the emergence of a European cultural identity.

Lastly, the European Youth Foundation is financing a growing number of projects and diversifying its priorities by working with other partners and funding comprehensive projects that involve all the players in the youth sector; and through the Mobility Fund for Disadvantaged Young People, it is also reaching new target groups.

However, in response to the rapid enlargement of the Council of Europe and changes in modes of youth participation - largely as a result of profound social change - the Council of Europe's youth sector must now adapt to the new realities of youth work, and find new ways of addressing young people's expectations, marrying the Council's own aims - to reinforce pluralist democracy and human rights, seek solutions to social problems and encourage the emergence of a European cultural identity - with the achievements of the intergovernmental sector in the areas of participation, mobility and information for young people and the priorities tackled through the Youth Centres and the European Youth Foundation: youth citizenship in Europe and the development of society, the conditions for integrating young people into society, efforts to combat racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and intolerance, and youth mobility in Europe. Clearly, the Council of Europe's youth policy must pull together these various, closely related strands of work. To do so successfully, the Council's youth sector must address a number of challenges.

The CDEJ must ensure that what it has achieved in the areas of information, mobility and youth participation is followed up, in order to:

  • · encourage activities that promote youth participation in the framework of a comprehensive, integrated youth policy, particularly by co-ordinating initiatives for, and involving, young people, by means of structural policies and reviews of youth structures and legislation;
  • · develop activities geared to integrating elements of co-management into the youth legislation of countries that do not meet the participation criteria promoted by the Council of Europe;
  • · combat social exclusion and encourage the integration of marginalised young people through voluntary sector initiatives that meet the needs of excluded or marginalised young people, with a view to promoting greater youth participation in civil society;
  • · seek ways of recognising skills acquired by young people through non-formal education and training, in the way that formally acquired skills are recognised, in order to promote equality of opportunity as a means of combating youth unemployment;
  • · facilitate young people's access to information, and the management of information projects by young people; and promote a high quality of information, reflecting the ethical criteria laid down in Recommendation R (90) 7 of the Committee of Ministers concerning information and counselling for young people;
  • · promote youth mobility, as a means of learning about other cultures and combating intolerance: particularly by reducing or eliminating obstacles to mobility, under its terms of reference as laid down by the Committee of Ministers.
  • · The EYCs must find ways of ensuring that non-governmental youth organisations are more actively involved in defining their aims and planning their work, in order to respond better to the needs of young people themselves.

The EYF must find ways of extending the scope of its activities to include new forms of youth and voluntary sector activity, at local level, in particular. It must consider what strategies it should develop for encouraging participation by non-organised young people in European projects, and for promoting voluntary sector activity and how best to support the development of youth organisations in the new member states which are not part of well-established European networks; and lastly and most importantly, how to ensure that it has the resources necessary to do its work - possibly by exploring other sources of funding, along the lines of the Mobility Fund for Disadvantaged Young People.

These aims can only be accomplished if the youth sector works within the framework of a comprehensive, integrated and consistent youth policy, addressing all the problems that confront young people and all their expectations, and establishing real co-ordination of the various sectors concerned. This implies that government and non-government representatives must work in closer partnership - within their respective areas of responsibility and activity - as regards the youth sector's entire programme of activities, in order to develop, if possible, comprehensive projects mobilising all the players in the youth sector and reflecting jointly defined priorities, having regard to the Council of Europe's aims and to the needs of young people, and making use of European research into the situation of young people in Europe and analysis of national policies.

At the request of youth organisations or one or more governments, these priorities could be adapted - in cases of urgent need - to situations demanding immediate action. They should also lend themselves to the development of aid projects to facilitate the integration of new member states which are reconstructing their youth policies, by focusing on wide-ranging initiatives including work in the areas of policy, legislation and pluralist democratic youth structures, geared to the parallel, rational development of both the government and the non-government sectors. This exercise could be repeated in the context of the evaluation of national youth policies - enabling the governments concerned to adapt their policies to reflect, in particular, common criteria defined at European level and drawn from national evaluations.

As well as stronger partnership within the sector, the Council of Europe needs a genuinely cross-sectoral youth policy - under the auspices of the Youth Directorate if possible - in order to develop a European model for a comprehensive, integrated policy, complemented by closer co-operation with other international, intergovernmental organisations, particularly the European Union. It is only through this type of ongoing interaction that a comprehensive, integrated European youth policy can become a reality.