Europe: Cooperation Mechanisms
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In Europe, the idea of “structured dialogue” among young people, their representative organizations, governments, and researchers on youth policy issues is an accepted principle, both nationally and internationally. Young people and their organizations have a chance to express their needs, concerns, and opinions, and governments should take these into account. Several mechanisms for this structured dialogue have been institutionalized.
Council of Europe Co-Management
The Council of Europe’s commitment to fostering greater youth participation can be demonstrated through its system of co-management. This involves representatives of INGYOs who sit in committees with government officials and together work out the priorities for the youth sector and make recommendations for future budgets and programs. These proposals are then adopted by the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Europe’s decision-making body. The website is available at www.coe.int/t/dg4/youth/Coe_youth/co_management_en.asp.
European Steering Committee (CDEJ) for Youth of the Council of Europe
The European Steering Committee of Youth (CDEJ) is the governmental arm of the Council of Europe’s co-managed decision-making system. It is composed of representatives of ministries responsible for youth affairs from all the member states of the Council of Europe and those that are signatories to the European Cultural Convention. It administers the CoE’s program of intergovernmental cooperation in the youth field, which which among others comprises national youth policy reviews, expert visits and seminars, the development of information exchange on youth policy, and the organization of the conferences of Ministers responsible for Youth in Europe.
Advisory Council on Youth (AC) of the Council of Europe
The Advisory Council (AC) is the nongovernmental arm of the Council of Europe’s co-managed decision-making system in the field of youth. Thirty nongovernmental youth organizations are elected to the AC for a mandate of two years. These organizations are drawn from the many hundreds of INGYOs directly or indirectly related to the youth sector of the Council of Europe. As the diversity of groups involved in the Council of Europe’s youth work grows, so does the potential membership of the Advisory Council, which has special provisions for involving so-called new partners: new youth networks or organizations that develop over time in response to contemporary youth concerns and needs. There is some overlap in membership between the Advisory Council on Youth and the European Youth Forum. The European Youth Forum attends the meetings of the Advisory Council in observer capacity.
Conferences of European Ministers Responsible for Youth
The first European Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth took place in Strasbourg in 1985. Together with the European Youth Week, the Conference was a highlight of the Council of Europe’s contribution to the International Youth Year. Since then, ministers have met periodically (Oslo 1987, Lisbon 1990, Vienna 1993, Bucharest 1998, Thessaloniki 2002, Budapest 2005, and Kiev 2008) to exchange views and coordinate national youth policies, and to recommend joint action at the European level, particularly in the areas of youth mobility, participation, information and advice, and research.
Council of the European Union
The Council of the European Union (“Council of Ministers” or “Council”) is the European Union’s main decision-making body. Its meetings are attended by the ministers responsible for youth from the member states of the European Union. The Council brings together the competent member state ministers in the field of education, youth, and culture. The Council is the holder of executive power, which it generally delegates to the European Commission. In most cases, the Council’s decisions, based on proposals from the Commission, are made jointly with the European Parliament under the co-decision procedure. The Council’s reports relevant to youth appear on the youth website of the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/youth/index_en.htm.
European Commission: Open Method of Coordination (OMC)
The OMC provides a framework for cooperation among the member states of the European Union, whose national policies can thus be directed toward certain common objectives. Under this method, the member states are evaluated by one another, with the European Commission’s role limited to coordination and surveillance. The European Commission coordinates and monitors the implementation of the objectives in the member states through the method. Consulting young people is part of the process. European guidelines can, in this way, be integrated into national and regional policies taking into account local differences. In the youth field, the OMC is applied with a flexible approach, with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity. The OMC was used to establish common objectives for the four priorities of the White Paper on Youth: participation, information, voluntary activities, and a greater understanding and knowledge of youth. The White Paper on Youth is one of the key youth policy documents of the European Union, launched in 2001. For more information see: http://ec.europa.eu/youth/archive/whitepaper/index_en.html. The OMC and Structured Dialogue with youth have focused on the implementation of the provisions of the White Paper and subsequent policy documents.
European Union Structured Dialogue with Youth
The structured dialogue is an instrument to actively involve young people in policy-shaping debates and dialogue in relation to the European agenda. It is a direct follow-up of the White Paper on Youth and a logical consequence of the European Youth Pact. In 2007 it focused on social and professional integration of young people; in 2008 on intercultural dialogue; and in 2009 it will cover the further perspectives of youth policy at the European level. The European Youth Week and the youth events organized by each Council presidency are major occasions for young people to raise their voices and contribute to the shaping of European policies on matters that concern them. A revised procedure for the OMC and Structured Dialogue was introduced at the end of 2009, with the publication of the “Communication from the Commission to the Council, the Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on an EU Strategy for Youth – Investing and Empowering: A renewed open method of coordination to address youth challenges and opportunities” and the “Council Resolution of 27 November 2009 on a renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018)”. See: http://ec.europa.eu/youth/news/news1458_en.htm.