The Council of Europe’s youth policy credentials

Since 1972 the Council of Europe, has become the driving force behind youth policy development and youth work in Europe. Thanks to its pioneering co-management system, the Organisation's member states and young people have been working together to build more just, more democratic and safer societies all over Europe.

For the Council of Europe, participation is about being able to take part in and influence decisions that impact our lives. For over 45 years, the co-management system has been giving youth organisations and governments an equal say in decision making on a range of programme priorities and activities.

Popularising this approach, known as co-management, among cooperating governments and organisations over more than 40 years, the Council of Europe youth sector has become a driving force behind youth policy development and youth work in Europe. At the forefront of these efforts has been the committee for inter-governmental cooperation, the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) and its non-governmental partners, represented in the Advisory Council on Youth. The CDEJ brings together ministries, public administrations and policy makers in charge of youth affairs in the 50 States Parties to the European Cultural Convention.

One of the priority objectives of the CDEJ is to promote and support the development of state youth policies. It has developed a variety of principles and values that should underpin youth policies. Key ingredients include young people‘s access to human and social rights, learning, inclusion and social cohesion, citizenship and participation, safety, health and well-being.

Public youth policies should have the following objectives:

  • To invest purposefully in young people in a coherent and mutually reinforcing way, wherever possible through an opportunity-focused rather than problem-oriented approach, by elaborating, among other things, standards and instruments of youth policy where necessary;
  • To involve young people both in the strategic formulation of youth policies and in eliciting their views about the operational effectiveness of policy implementation;
  • To create the conditions for learning, opportunity and experience which ensure and enable young people to develop their knowledge, skills and competencies to play a full part in both the labour market and in civil society;
  • To establish systems for robust data collections both to demonstrate the effectiveness of youth policies and to reveal the extent to which ‘policy gaps’ exist in relation to effective service delivery to young people from certain social groups, in certain areas or in certain conditions;
  • To display a commitment to reducing such ‘policy gaps’ where they demonstrably exist;

Furthermore, the Council of Europe youth policy aims to contribute to the effective mainstreaming of youth policies across the Council of Europe programme of activities and to stimulate co-operation between the governments. We take a standard setting approach, motivating States to adapt their policies accordingly, based on shared values and political will.

A package of youth policy development support measures

The CDEJ and the Youth Department of the Council of Europe jointly promote a programme of support measures for ministries, public administrations and policy makers wishing to adopt the standards of the Council of Europe in the field of youth policy. Through this programme, it is now possible for governments, ministries and policy makers around Europe to receive specialised and targeted support for addressing their youth policy related questions, dilemmas and challenges from peers elsewhere in Europe with relevant experience and expertise.

The package has three main components, including multilateral support measures that any state may participate in; bilateral support measures specifically tailored to individual states upon request; and standing resources that can be used by any stakeholder of the youth sector nationally or internationally on their own initiative. Each of these categories includes several key activities.

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The Council of Europe and Youth Policy cover page 

The Council of Europe and Youth policy - Support, assistance and resources for youth policy development in Member States
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