Youth - Young people building Europe

6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth

Thessaloniki, Greece, 7-9 November 2002

Final Declaration

“Youth constructing Europe”

We, the Ministers responsible for Youth, meeting in Thessaloniki (Greece) from 7 to 9 November 2002, on the occasion of the 6th Council of Europe Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth;

  • Stressing the fundamental role of young people in the development of democratic and peaceful societies open to the world;
  • Underlining the specific action carried out by the Council of Europe in partnership with youth organisations, particularly with the European Youth Forum, during the last 30 years in order to promote active participation of young people as well as their contribution towards a more united society;
  • Concerned about the consequences of the increase in the number of terrorist attacks, having regard in particular to democratic stability, the freedom of persons, the defence of human rights and the fight against all forms of discrimination;
  • Aware that in Europe today some countries or regions are still subject to open conflicts, and concerned by the difficulties with which young people from these countries and regions are confronted;
  • Aware of the considerable differences with regard to the socio-economic situation of young people in the world, and aware that unequal opportunities between genders still exist;
  • Underlining that access to their fundamental rights, to education, the labour market, health care, culture, technological innovations and the possibility to enjoy decent living conditions, is a prerequisite for the active participation of young people in society;
  • Bearing in mind the work done following the five previous conferences of the Council of Europe, the United Nations First World Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth held in 1998 in Lisbon, the reference to youth in the Declaration of the European Council in Laeken in 2001, the publication of the White Paper of the European Commission “A new impetus for European youth” and the new co-operation in the youth field of the European Union;
  • Welcoming the recent development of a co-operative working culture between the Council of Europe, the European Commission, UNICEF, UNESCO and the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, in the youth field;

Declare that:

1. Violence, wars and terrorism are unacceptable in societies based on pluralist democracy and the respect for human rights. To this end, we call upon the international community and in particular the Council of Europe to make even stronger efforts to prepare young people to live an active democratic citizenship and to work against every extreme action or propaganda.

    Particular attention should be paid to recent, existing or latent conflict areas, in particular in South-East Europe and in the Caucasus;

2. Youth policies need to be as comprehensive as possible, taking into account the overall needs of young people and recognising their diversity and their many facets and resources. In particular, youth policies should:

      2.1. Be anchored in universal values of pluralist democracy and human rights and pursue objectives such as justice, respect for identities, access to one’s own culture, equal opportunities, including therein men and women, and social cohesion;

      2.2. Have a cross-sectoral dimension as well as a local, regional and national dimension;

      2.3. Integrate the educational dimension in a long term perspective, taking into consideration young people’s aspirations; promote their access to autonomy as well as their sense of responsibility and commitment, through, notably, voluntary youth work;

      2.4. Facilitate active participation of young people in decisions which concern them, and encourage them to commit themselves in their community life;

      2.5. Facilitate the access of young people to the labour market, by means of appropriate projects and training schemes which are likely to increase their professional opportunities;

      2.6. Facilitate the access of young people, notably from disadvantaged groups, to information which concerns them, and in particular, to the new communication technologies;

      2.7. Promote youth mobility by reducing administrative and financial obstacles and encouraging the development of quality projects;

      2.8. Promote non-formal education/learning of young people as well as the development of appropriate forms of recognition of experiences and skills acquired notably within the framework of associations and other forms of voluntary involvement, at local, national and European levels;

      2.9. Promote co-operation between Child, Family and Youth policies;

3. Despite the differences from country to country, certain general trends in the situation of young people can be identified:

      3.1. Young Europeans experience longer and more complex transitions to adult life. They stay longer in full-time education and training and they stay longer in their parental home;

      3.2. In many European countries, youth unemployment rates are higher than general unemployment rates and regional inequalities in this respect are still important. Young people are over-represented in marginal and precarious employment;

      3.3. Throughout Europe, young people’s economic reliance on families and social networks is growing. Inequalities of educational opportunity and outcome do not decrease;

      3.4. Insecurity as regards the challenges in contemporary society, in particular globalisation, the development of biotechnologies and the protection of environment is increasingly felt by young Europeans;

In this context, however,

      3.5. A strong tendency towards freedom of cultural expression, creativity and individualism paves the way for young people today, who identify themselves as culture producers and carriers of innovation and of new forms of expression;

      3.6. Young people are highly positive towards democracy, although they are often critical towards the way institutions work;

      3.7. Civic engagement is the form of participation that attracts the widest support and participation of youth in Europe, although membership in associations varies widely from country to country;

      3.8. Although a minority of young Europeans display intolerant social and xenophobic attitudes, the great majority have open and positive attitudes towards cultural, ethnic and social diversity in Europe.

4. The member States should take these trends into account in the elaboration and implementation of youth policies and secure the necessary conditions for young people and their organisations to be full partners of these policies;

5. In order to create synergies between youth policies of the different Council of Europe’s member States, it is indispensable to develop closer co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union by establishing partnership agreements;

6. The Council of Europe’s youth sector for its part should continue and intensify its efforts in order to better target its programme and working methods, in the spirit of innovation and experimentation which has inspired its work during 30 years. In this respect, we recommend to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe:

      6.1. To revise Resolution (98) 6 on the Council of Europe’s youth policy, taking into consideration the Recommendation 1585 (2002) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the activities of the Council of Europe in the youth field, the present Declaration as well as the resolutions adopted during this Conference, on the priorities of the youth sector for the next three years and on the situation of young people in conflict areas;

      6.2. To envisage the reinforcement of the means of action of the European Youth Foundation, with a view to enlarging its programme to a greater number of young people and organisations in Europe and to responding to the significant increase in the number of applications for funding projects;

      6.3. To support the work of the European Youth Centres of Strasbourg and Budapest, and the development of appropriate forms of co-operation between existing youth centres in the member States, that are likely to contribute to the implementation of the objectives and priorities of the Council of Europe’s youth policy;

      6.4. To encourage the development of national youth policies based on general common principles and involving young people and their organisations as much as possible in the elaboration and implementation of these policies;

      6.5. To ensure that the youth dimension is better taken into consideration within the overall activities of the Council of Europe, thus giving the reform of the youth sector adopted in 1998 a concrete reality.

MJN-6 (2002) 4 rev. 1