Self-assessment tool for youth policy
Checking compliance with Council of Europe standards
The self-assessment tool for youth policy aims to help member states and other public stakeholders at various levels (local, regional, national, international) to self-assess their compliance with Council of Europe standards, based on the six areas of intervention (participation, information, inclusion, access to rights, youth work and mobility) which are the foundation for the Council of Europe’s youth policy. All member states are encouraged to use and disseminate the tool.
Support to enhance performance
Seminars, training courses or study visits can be organised to match the needs of the requesting member state. These activities have proven most apt to develop common solutions and to produce sustainable results.
Partnership for developing youth policy
‘50/50’ trainings are designed to develop the competences of youth sector professionals, ranging from civil servants responsible for youth policy implementation at national to local levels, to youth-led NGOs delivering youth work and services to young people. In particular they aim to foster co-operation and partnership as an effective youth policy must involve everyone concerned, notably public authorities (national and regional and/or local) and youth organisations or other structures of youth representation and participation.
As the name suggests, the course concept requires the participation of 50% governmental and 50% non-governmental representatives. Every aspect of the programme should support dialogue, bringing to the table the multiple perspectives of youth policy implementation, including the challenges of democratic and inclusive decision making, responsibilities and accountability mechanisms. The ‘50/50’ concept can be applied to different formats, ranging from longer training activities to short or targeted capacity-building seminars.
"The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"
In 2017, the Agency of Youth and Sport of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” asked for assistance to support the implementation of its National Youth Strategy 2016-2025, notably in the priority area to promote youth participation, specifically to support the creation and develop the capacity of local youth councils and to prepare local youth strategies. A "50/50" training was organised in November 2017 in Skopje in which 28 participants took part. Twelve municipalities were represented by both a member of the local youth council and the municipal co-ordinator. Six other municipalities were represented either by a member or by the municipal co-ordinator, 15 members and 13 local co-ordinators in all.
The training helped the participants to understand the roles of the different stakeholders in implementing youth policy, as well as the importance of a good local youth strategy for improving young people’s situation. They had also a far better grasp of the concept of youth participation. The participants gained new knowledge and skills although further training is necessary.
As part of its plans to shape the youth policy agenda, further to the youth policy advisory mission of September 2019, in 2020, the Youth Agency of Georgia submitted a request to the CDEJ for the organisation of a 50/50 training to strengthen co-operation and partnership for promoting youth participation. The course, which was organised within the framework of the presidency of Georgia of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, was held on 24 to 28 February 2020 in the European Youth Centre Strasbourg. The aim of the course was to improve participants’ competences to facilitate youth participation in youth policy processes and to implement projects for youth participation in line with the Council of Europe’s standards, principles and values.
Thirty highly motivated and committed participants – 15 municipal employees working on youth issues and 15 NGO representatives – gathered in Strasbourg for a full training programme which covered, inter alia, sessions on youth participation (why it is important, how it is organised in a meaningful way, etc); the realities of young people in Georgia and the state of youth participation; skills workshops on standards, fundraising and participatory budgeting, and advocacy; the Council of Europe’s youth sector and its work, the EYF, and its values and principles.
The participants were taking part in a pilot project being run by the Youth Agency of Georgia to promote youth participation in decision-making processes at the local level and, in the final session, discussed next steps in pairs (municipal employee and youth NGO representative from the same municipality).
The Youth Agency of Georgia was to organise similar trainings for youth NGO representatives and municipal employees in the future.
See the report
Following on from the 50/50 training, the Youth Agency of Georgia has launched a Municipal Youth Policy Development Programme and is supporting local municipalities in its implementation. Although the programme had to be rearranged in view of the Coronavirus pandemic, municipalities are now preparing municipal youth strategies by researching young people’s needs and interests, identifying, analysing and setting up partnerships with stakeholders, and assessing the programmes, services and resources available at local and national levels. Information is being provided to young people and society about the programme and its activities.
Read the Youth Policy Development Programme
Delivery of expertise on specific issues
These support measures propose a ‘quick and easy fix’ to challenging youth policy issues, for example when establishing new programmes, procedures, legislative measures, financing systems or establishing a qualification process for youth workers. Advice, expertise and experiences can be shared between different stakeholders. On receipt of such requests, the Youth Department invites CDEJ members and relevant specialised networks for information and examples of good practice. The Secretariat commits to collating all responses received or to providing its own answer as appropriate.
Peer advice and peer coaching
Learning through others' experiences
When governments need more than a rapid response to address their youth policy challenges, they may submit requests for advice and expertise over a longer period of time (12 months plus). The Youth Department will help to develop a support process involving two or three other countries that can provide advice over a longer period of time. This advice might be provided by CDEJ members themselves or by national experts nominated by the CDEJ members involved in the process. The Youth Department identifies those countries best placed to provide the support, set up and co-ordinate the process.
In principle, the requesting country will be responsible for all costs. As a rule, the experts involved are civil servants/national governmental experts, therefore no fees are foreseen. The Youth Department can assist financially with international travel costs and insurance for national experts who travel to give the peer advice or coaching.
Finland - Ukraine
On 2-5 August 2017, the Youth Department and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture co-organised a study visit for a Ukrainian delegation to the Villa Elba Youth Centre (Kokkola, Finland), one of the Quality Label for Youth Centres Network. The Ukrainian delegation gained useful information, knowledge and inspiration to support the development of a network of youth centres in Ukraine by involving the NGO sector, local authorities and youth workers.
Cyprus - Czech Republic
To gain advice on the drafting of the National Youth Strategy of Cyprus, the national authorities (Youth Board of Cyprus) requested assistance from the Council of Europe. The public administration wished to consult young people on the content of the strategy. The Head of the Youth Department (CDEJ member) in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport of the Czech Republic and a representative of the Czech Council of Children and Youth (also member of the Advisory Council on Youth) travelled to Cyprus to provide peer advice.
As a follow-up, a study visit was organised for representatives of the authorities of Cyprus (CDEJ member, director of the national youth agency, high-level civil servants in charge of the national youth strategy) to the Czech Republic in order to share good practices and provide tangible support for the implementation of the national youth strategy. The study visit looked in particular at ways of actively involving youth organisations.
Youth policy advisory missions
Targeted help from international experts
In cases where the Council of Europe and its international experts are best placed to provide expertise and advice a government requires, the Youth Department can organise youth policy advisory missions. These assess the youth policy relative to a specific developmental question or issue of concern. A team of up to five independent experts visit the country to conduct the assessment and prepare their recommendations according to Council of Europe norms and standards. The team is supported by a representative of the requesting national authority with relevant language and thematic expertise. A concise report containing concrete and practical recommendations pertinent to the youth policy development issues of concern to the country is produced for the authorities for follow up in the immediate and medium terms. The CDEJ might request a progress report from the authorities approximately 12 months after the visit.
In 2018, the Agency of Youth and Sport of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (as it was then known) requested expert assistance for the drafting of a new law on youth and the revision of the national youth strategy. A delegation, composed of an expert in youth policy, a legal expert, and members of the CDEJ and the Advisory Council on Youth, met with different national stakeholders in Skopje in June 2018 (programme 11 June, programme 12 June). The delegation's conclusions and recommendations were presented to the CDEJ in October 2018.
In July 2018, a delegation of representatives of the Council of Europe Quality Label for Youth Centres provided the Ukrainian authorities with advice and feedback on their national quality label for youth centres. The aim is for Ukraine to set up one Council of Europe labelled youth centre to serve as a model for those in the national network.
In April 2019, a delegation composed of members of the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ), a representative of the European Youth Forum, a consultant and the head of the Council of Europe Youth Department travelled to Cyprus to advise the authorities on how to develop their roadmap for the recognition of youth work and the creation of educational paths for youth workers.
The Council of Europe delegation met with key stakeholders from the Youth Board and other relevant national authorities (e.g. Ministry of Education), as well as the authorities responsible for the validation and recognition of the training paths of youth workers (e.g. university, human resources development authority) and NGOs responsible for non-formal education and training of youth workers. They also met some youth workers, both paid and volunteers (programme).
The report provided by the team of experts will be used for the development of a comprehensive national road map towards the recognition of youth work in Cyprus, the creation of educational paths and sustainable careers for youth workers and the quality assurance in the field.
From 16 to 18 July 2019, a Council of Europe delegation composed of representatives of the CMJ, the European Youth Forum (YFJ), a youth policy expert/rapporteur and the head of the Council of Europe Youth Policy Division visited Armenia (Yerevan and Gyumri) to provide practical advice to the national authorities on the revision of the national youth strategy, in line with Council of Europe standards in the field of youth.
The delegation met key stakeholders involved in the national youth strategy. It also met some high-level representatives, including: Gevorg Loretsyan (Deputy Minister responsible for youth matters at the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic Armenia); Arman Udumyan (Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia); Samvel Balasanyan (mayor of the city of Gyumri); Tigran Petrosyan (governor of the Shirak province). A field visit was organised to the Youth Initiative Centre of Gyumri and the Gyumri Open Youth Centre (see programme).
This mission was organised at a crucial juncture in the national political context, which might entail significant changes in the national youth policy of Armenia. The main findings and recommendations of the advisory mission will be summarised in a report to be submitted shortly to the national authorities.
On 26-28 September 2019, further to the request of the national authorities of Georgia, a youth policy advisory mission was organised to Tbilisi and Rustavi.
The advisory mission was organised at a crucial time for shaping the youth policy agenda of Georgia: youth issues were taken from the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports and transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office, where a new Youth Agency set up, at the end of August 2019.
The aim of the mission was to provide advice to the competent national authorities on the drafting of a new participatory youth policy. The Council of Europe delegation met with national stakeholders in the youth field and visited two municipalities to meet with local politicians, government officials, young people and youth organisations.
The delegation also met with members of Georgia’s Sports and Youth Issues Committee of the Parliament of Georgia. The Parliament is playing a big part in reforms since the country became a constitutional democracy following reforms in late 2018. A working group of this Committee is taking the lead on reviewing the government’s current youth policy and setting the direction for the new one.
Once the group has produced a ‘concept note’, it will hand over to the Government’s Youth Agency which will develop an implementation strategy and a series of time-limited action plans. The Parliamentary Committee will maintain an oversight role.
Ambition and motivation for engaging young people in the policy development process are high amongst state agencies and civil society and whilst there are significant challenges, there are opportunities too to strengthen youth organisations and initiate some kind of structured dialogue.
The Youth Agency of Georgia decided to publish the Council of Europe delegation's report on the youth policy advisory mission (see below).
See the programme.
See the report.
Learning from first-hand experience
Two to three-day study visits are organised by CDEJ members in co-operation with the Youth Department for small groups of youth experts and youth workers to get to know the Council of Europe. They are an opportunity to learn about the youth sector’s instruments, policies and programmes and other relevant Council of Europe activities.
Youth policy reviews
Comprehensive advice for youth policy enhancement
The international reviews of national youth policies are the most complex and comprehensive of support measures, they require commitment – from political to financial – from both the requesting country and the Council of Europe.
Thanks to these reviews, a country may receive advice on its national youth policy and on how to approximate the Council of Europe's youth policy standards. They also help the state to gain an impartial, international and comparative view on how its own youth policy functions within a wider European perspective.
A number of these comprehensive reviews have been undertaken, they have contributed to the development of a harmonised approach to youth policy across Europe and have enabled the Council of Europe to amass knowledge and expertise for the development and implementation of its own youth policy and programmes.