The European Youth Forum is an international organisation established by national youth councils and international non-governmental youth organisations, like FYEG, to represent the interests of young people from all over Europe at the European and International level.
Its members, which are federations in themselves, bring together tens of millions of young people from all European countries. Being a recognised partner of the European Union, the Youth Council of Europe and United Nations, the Youth Forum serves to channel the flow of information and opinions between young people and decision-makers.
The European Youth Forum works to empower young people to actively participate in the shaping of Europe and the society in which they live. Through our member organisations and our representative role we want to improve the living conditions of young people as European citizens in today’s world.
2003 is for the moment, a busy year for the European Youth Forum. We have risen to many challenges, but a lot still remains to be done in the second half of 2003. The organisation, with its more than 90 Members representing millions of young people across Europe, will continue to work to put youth at the top of the EU agenda.
Follow-up to the Youth Convention
The firm belief that young people’s concerns should be taken into account in the EU Constitutional Treaty was the driving force behind the follow-up to the Youth Convention in May. The objective was to assess the draft Constitutional Treaty in the light of the proposals and demands made by young people in the European Youth Convention in July 2002. Top representatives from EU institutions discussed their positions with youth representatives. From this constructive dialogue resulted a final document that was presented to the European Convention Presidium and Members at the end of May.
Taking into account the results of the Convention, the Youth Convention welcomes the draft Constitutional Treaty. It is a major step towards the positive construction of Europe but further improvement is needed, particularly in the field of qualified majority (ex. in matters of Common Foreign and Security Policy), the invulnerability of co-decision rule and youth participation and representation. The draft treaty should bring the Union closer to its citizens, particularly young people as they will manage the Union in the future.
The Youth Forum will closely follow the work of the IGC hoping that the Draft Constitution will be reinforced and awarded a special importance as a key pillar of the process of construction of the Union.
Finance for International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations
The role of voluntary non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is increasingly recognised: participation in nongovernmental organisations builds trust and mutual understanding among the citizens and reinforces the foundations of democracy and social cohesion. The citizens’ right to associate is a cornerstone of all democracies. It is clear that young people do not have the means to set up and maintain associations due to their socio-economic situation. This applies especially at the European level. If young people are to participate in dialogue and to contribute to European Union level democracy, than the EU has to provide financial support for the maintenance of these organisations.
The European Youth Forum welcomes the Commission proposal to establish a multi-annual programme in support of youth NGOs operating at the European level (COM 272 final). It is an important step towards the establishment of diverse and fully functional youth organisations across Europe. We will make sure that this proposal is improved where it is necessary and will follow the work of the Council making sure that this proposal stays it course and becomes approved by the EP.
Common Objectives on Youth
The European Youth Forum has always supported an ambitious approach to the Common Objectives on participation and information of young people. During this first half of the year it has closely followed the work of the Commission, the Council and the Directors General for Youth. In this sense, the Youth Forum played important role in the Youth Event of the Greek Presidency celebrated in June. For the first time, young people were allowed to give their inputs to an Commission draft document and to directly hand them to the 25 Directors General for Youth.
The work of the Youth Forum affects the young people daily problems: we have been campaigning to extensively reduce the level of youth unemployment. In Europe, youth unemployment nearly doubles the rates of general unemployment. We have closely followed the different resolutions of EU institutions and alerted them when youth unemployment was left out of the European Employment Strategy in the beginning of 2003. We asked the Council to rectify and were honoured when the Greek Presidency appealed for a Council Youth Working Party contribution to the European Employment Strategy addressing youth concerns.
But the fight against youth unemployment does not end in Europe; it affects young people everywhere. The Youth Employment Network, in which the Youth Forum actively participates in, has recently met in July to address the problems of youth unemployment. The Youth Forum worked along with European organisations, the World Bank and Kofi Annan from the UN addressing the problems of youth employment on a global scale.
Awareness campaign for EP elections in 2004
We also wish to make a concrete contribution to raising the participation of young people in the European Parliament election. The Youth Forum is planning concrete actions in order to raise awareness among young people in these elections. It is crucial that young people feel involved in the Union and want their vote to make a difference for their future wellbeing as European citizens.
Finally, the European Youth Forum would like to thank the Greek Presidency for their great effort in the field of youth and would encourage the current EU Presidency to follow their guidelines, rectifying the somehow fault start that it has committed at the beginning of its mandate.