Europe: Nongovernmental Organisations
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Most of the international nongovernmental youth organizations listed above as active on the global level, have either a strong European regional branch or have chosen to be headquartered in Europe as a result of the favorable financial conditions available to INGYOs registered in Europe (e.g., grants from the EU or the Council of Europe for maintaining a permanent secretariat, etc.). In addition, support for INGYOs is usually more developed in Europe than in other regions: legal frameworks for the establishment of INGYOs are generally liberal and there is a variety of explicitly youth-related project-funding mechanisms. Europe has an extensive and elaborate system for involving nongovernmental youth organizations in policy making at the national and regional level, as well as long-established awareness of the importance of involving young people and their representative organizations in youth policy-making (it emerged in the 1960s and has continued to develop since then).
Regional Youth Platforms
Regional youth platforms are coordinating or umbrella organizations of youth organizations and national youth councils in a particular region. A national youth council is an umbrella organization for youth organizations active at the national level. Its role and function are to represent the interests of its member organizations to national authorities responsible for youth. As a coordinating body of organizations with nationwide membership, these organizations tend to consider themselves “representative.” In Europe, there were originally three separate platforms: one for national youth councils (Committee of European National Youth Councils), one for international nongovernmental youth organizations (European Coordination Bureau of INGYOs), and one for youth organizations associated with the then European Communities (Youth Forum of the European Communities). In 1996, these three platforms merged to create one European platform for youth organizations—national youth councils and international nongovernmental youth organizations—representing the interests of young people to all relevant institutions, in Europe and globally.
European Youth Forum (YFJ)
The European Youth Forum is a platform made up of nearly 100 National Youth Councils and international youth NGOs from across Europe. The YFJ works to empower young people to participate actively in society and improve their living conditions by representing their interests in the European institutions, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, and other partners active in the youth field. The YFJ’s work focuses mainly on articulating and voicing the concerns of its membership and seeking their inclusion on the political agendas of governmental institutions—namely, the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the United Nations—in complementarity to the work of its member organizations. The YFJ provides a space for organizations to develop sustainably and offers strategic support for capacity building, networking, and the dissemination of good practice to build a strong and united youth movement in Europe. It empowers youth in their ability to come together and build independent, democratic, representativе, and inclusive associations. The YFJ is a place for debate that leads to the development of policies and positions based on the opinions, experiences, and expertise of young people from all over Europe. Updated information on which organizations are members of the YFJ can be accessed at www.youthforum.org by selecting the “Membership” option. It is based in Brussels where it maintains a permanent secretariat.