The Congress has long been committed to promoting the active participation of young people in civic life as a means of securing social cohesion and anchoring democratic principles in a society based on respect for human rights. This approach was borne out by the adoption of its European Charter on the participation of young people in municipal and regional life in 1992.
But as highlighted in the Congress report on “Youth and democracy: the changing face of youth political engagement”, in the 21st century, young people are engaging differently. There is a wide gap between political institutions’ and young people’s understanding of participation. During the Congress’ 2014 conference on promoting youth participation, it became clear that institutions have difficulty in grasping not only what these new forms of youth participation are but also the issues that mobilise young people. For their part, young people are facing unemployment, job insecurity, difficult transitions to work and adult life. They are increasingly disenchanted and feel marginalised from the political process.
The active participation of citizens in democratic structures and representative institutions is decisive in guaranteeing the legitimacy, credibility and operation of democratic systems. The Congress is cooperating with young people and local and regional authorities to find a way forward towards achieving the meaningful participation of young people.
The Congress published a leaflet on the report Youth work: the role of local and regional authorities, adopted in February 2021. The leaflet contains a presentation of the main recommendations of the report. It was prepared in collaboration with youth delegates in the framework of the Congress' "Rejuvenate Politics" initiative, which aims to promote the participation of young people in public life and decision-making at local and regional level. Since 2014, this initiative has enabled young delegates from the 47 Council of Europe member states to contribute to debates at Congress sessions and committee meetings.
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The Congress' Thematic Spokesperson on Youth, Thomas Andersson, was interviewed by Europe Goes Local about the work of the Congress, the youth participation through Youth Delegates Programme and more!
Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life
Young people must be included in democratic structures and processes, have their voices heard and make decisions on issues that impact on them and their lives. Their active participation is essential if we are to build more democratic, caring and prosperous societies.
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is convinced that it is at local and regional levels that a culture of youth participation can most efectively take root and thrive.
The revised Charter contains principles, best practices and guidelines to enhance youth participation at local and regional levels. It also sets out the basic requirements for this participation to be meaningful, i.e. young people must have the necessary rights, means, space, opportunity and support.
Booklets available in:
English - French - German - Italian - Azerbaijani - Belarusian
Bulgarian - Greek - Hungarian - Romanian - Serbian
Spanish - Turkish - Ukrainian
Albanian - Georgian - Polish - Romance - Russian - Swedish
Since October 2014, the Congress has invited young people from different backgrounds to take part in its sessions, to have their say in the debates and to exchange with Congress members on the issues on the agenda.
How to become a youth delegate?
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- Youth delegates participated in all the debates of the 42nd session of the Congress
- Young people as defenders of human rights and democracy in times of war
- Gudrun Mosler-Törnström “Voting at 16 in national elections could be a starting point for granting the right to vote to very young people in national elections and referenda”