Young People, Youth Work and Youth Policy: Developments

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Recent years have seen very sigcant developments in the 'youth sector' at European level. There are two major institutional contexts for these (and other) European developments, and not surprisingly people sometimes get the bo mixed up. The first is the European Union (EU) which grew out of the European Economic Community (EEC, or 'Common Market') established in 1957 when six member states signed the Treaty of Rome. The membership has grown over the years to its current figure of 27 (Ireland joined in 1973) and a succession of further treaties have amended and expanded the competences of the 'community' or 'union'; these include the Treaties of Maastricht (1993), Amsterdam (1999), Nice (2003) and, most recently, Lisbon (2009). While the term 'economic' is no longer included in the EU's name, economic matters remain absolutely central to its purpose. The Council of Europe (CoE) is a different organisation. It was established in 1949, in the aftermath of the Second World War, by ten founding members (including Ireland) with the purpose of promoting democracy, the rule of l law, human rights and cultural cooperation across the continent. Its most important and best known instrument is the European Convention on Human Rights which established (and is enforced by) the European Court of Human Rights. For several decades the CoE's membership was confined to the countries of western Europe but in the years following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (and the associated political transformations) it grew into a genuinely pan-European organisation. It currently has 47 member states. Both the European Union and the Council of Europe have relevance for youth, youth work and youth policy. The CoE has played a pioneering role in these matters, and has had a significant influence on the approach adopted by the EU. In fact the two work closely together and in more recent years have formalised their collaboration through the EU-CoE Youth Partnership. Keeping up to date with recent and current developments in youth policy at European level means knowing what each organisation is doing separately and also what they are doing jointly through the Youth Partnership. Below is an outline of developments under each of these three headings.


Maurice Devlin

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