European Youth Strategies
In this episode, we are reflecting on two European youth strategies: the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027 and the Council of Europe Youth Sector Strategy 2030.
Welcome to UNDER 30, the podcast series by the youth partnership that brings the research results,
explores trends in young people's lives and themes relevant for youth policy and practice.
In today's episode, we are discussing two European youth strategies: the EU youth strategy
and the Council of Europe youth sector strategy, looking at what they have in common and
where they differ, but also how relevant they are now in the COVID or post COVID period.
Both strategies are institutional reactions to the situation of young people in Europe.
The reason for our discussion is the paper written by Frederike Hofmann-van de
Poll and Howard Williamson, which is reflecting on and analyzing both strategies.
You can find the link to the document in the notes of this episode.
Today we are discussing this paper and both strategies together with Frederike Hofmann-van de Poll,
a senior researcher at German Youth Institute and Miriam Teuma, chief executive of Malta's national
youth agency and also the chair of the European Steering Committee for Youth in the Council of Europe.
My name is Dariusz Grzemny and I'm joined by Tanya Basarab from the youth partnership in this episode.
Dariusz: Today, we are discussing two European youth strategies, one
coming from the European Union and the second from the Council of Europe.
There is a paper published that's analyzing both strategies.
Tanya, if you can introduce a little bit of paper and tell us what we can find there, and why this paper appears now.
Tanya: So first of all, thank you, Miriam and Frederike for accepting to be, discussing together this analysis.
I remember that we gave this difficult task to Frederike and Howard in March.
And they did a good job, considering that we wanted to have this as a basis
for the consultation for the youth partnership next biannual work program.
But we also thought that it would be great to have such an analysis now
that the two strategies were launched just to see where they converge.
What are the common points?
What are the objectives and the contexts of each strategy, but also the different
points and how do they stand the test now because a strategy takes time to be developed.
It takes a lot of consultation.
A lot of people are involved and then by the time it's adopted, and in this case, we
had a COVID-19 situation almost immediately as the strategies were adopted and launched.
We asked Frederica and Howard to look for example, what are the common objectives of the two strategies and they
did identify inclusion, youth work, participation and that they're opportunity oriented, this European value
based trying to pass it on and it permeates especially the background of the introduction of the strategies.
And then what was unique that each organization chose to focus on for the next period.
And, we asked also that they look at how it relates to young people's realities, young people's
lives because ultimately these strategies aim to support member states to improve opportunities,
to improve conditions, to support the needs and aspirations of young people in Europe.
So of course a young person does not think engaging in power connect or revitalizing
democracy, youth work and so on, but they think I want to have good education, I want to have
good employment opportunities, maybe for some, I want to have good career prospects to feel
confident of who I am, of how I am growing into an adult and services and support I have around.
So, very briefly this is, let's say the pitching from my side of what this analysis is about.
Dariusz: Thank you, Tanya for this introduction.
The strategies are quite new, because the European Union youth strategy is planned for
the years 2019-2027, and the Council of Europe youth strategy is planned until 2030.
So we are at the beginning of the whole process of implementation of both strategies in the field of youth.
Frederike, after reading the paper several times, I found this statement that sometimes
it's not possible to compare certain things when it comes to both strategies.
So it's quite difficult, although you did a great job because you try
to find the commonalities and also the differences in both strategies.
So if we can, discuss a little bit at the beginning, where do these strategies
meet and what are the differences that maybe we should be aware of?
Frederike: Thank you for inviting me.
Yeah, both documents they are comparable and not comparable because they have both their
own environments and own institutions into which they were discussed, developed and adopted.
If you think of the EU youth strategy at the moment it was developed, at the moment it was discussed,
we had 28 member states of the European Union, whereas the Council of Europe has 47 members.
One organization that is an intergovernmental organization, the other one is a supranational organization.
So there are differences in competences.
There are difference in the way they reach out to youth policy, what their
capacities are, what their possibilities, and also their competencies are.
But, at the same time, both documents really are institutional reactions to the situation of young people.
but then again, you see that you that the EU youth strategy, for
example, is a response to the challenges that young people are facing.
The whole document is about challenges young people are facing
and the reactions the EU can, or what the EU can do about it.
Whereas if you look at the Council of Europe youth sector strategy, also, the name already says it's a
youth sector strategy, it's much more about ensuring the systemic development within the youth sector.
It's also about the challenges young people are facing, but they're
much more in the background compared to the document of the EU.
Both institutions, of course have their own history of youth policy development, their own previous documents
on which the now EU youth strategy strategy and Council of Europe youth sector strategy are building on.
And then, especially in the EU, you have also a lot of other youth policy initiatives that are actually
not directly related to the EU youth strategy, for example, the Youth Guarantee in the employment
sector or the European Skills Agenda in the education sector, European Pillar of Social Rights.
So, you have these two documents, which are basically directed at
the same goal to make the situation of young people in Europe better.
But, if you look into the details, they have a different background and you have always have to realize, which
background it is and how certain, certain things they're basically saying in the documents are to be interpreted.
Dariusz: Thank you Frederike.
You already said that there is a big process going on before the strategy is actually designed.
there is a lot of consultations, there is a lot, probably going on in consulting different documents as well, and so on.
Miriam, looking at the Council of Europe, youth sector strategy.
If you can say a few words, how this actually looks like, how do you develop such a European strategy?
What this process looked like in the Council of Europe.
I think it's interesting for the listeners to see what it looks
like when when the institution develops a European youth strategy.
Miriam: In reality, here, we're talking about two institutions and in a way they follow the same procedure,
not exactly, but it's the same kind of process that both institutions take, although these are initiated
by the institutions and all member states that are involved in the production in a way of such strategy.
So for example, in the Council of Europe, there is a statutory body, which is called the Joint Council.
And in this statutory body it's the delegates from the member states who are part of
this or the member states of the Council of Europe with a number of youth organizations.
And this makes the statutory body of the Council of Europe.
The statutory body really starts having a wide consultation with the member states, with the organizations.
In this case, this time there was a big event where we started off with the consultations
and trying to take stock of what's happened and what we should have in the new strategy.
Then the statutory body also appoints a task force to work on the strategy.
There is always a consultation process between the member states between involving the young people.
Young people in the Council of Europe are really directly part of this decision making about this.
And afterwards, after all the negotiations the strategy is decided
up on, and it goes to the Council of Ministers to be adopted.
Similarly, at the EU level usually it's the Commission who prepares
a document and then it is presented to the youth working party.
There are different member states and they discuss, and negotiate the document that has been prepared.
And after that, a lot of consultations happen in which the young people, the difference here is that the young
people are not in youth working party, but there is still a lot of consultation being taken, which happens.
That's why you have the EU youth conferences, that's why you have
the structured dialogue for all this process to move smoother.
And again, once the document has been decided upon, it goes
to the Council of Ministers and that the document is adopted.
So this is really the process on how these strategies are
developed and then adopted and become part of the institutions.
So in reality, there is a big influence from the different member states and also the young people themselves.
This is a youth policy and they are involved in this to make this document happen.
Dariusz: Thank you, Miriam.
Yeah, that's indeed a very complicated process.
I feel tempted actually to ask now and what's next?
This is not the end of the episode yet, but this is what immediately comes.
So it's adopted.
There is, there is a lot of guidelines.
There is a lot of information.
Young people were consulted.
The document is supposed to be very relevant for the lives of young people in let's
say very diverse communities, very diverse countries with very different probably needs.
So, what kind of impact do these strategies actually have on national
strategies, on national youth policies or, on young people's lives?
Miriam: I can speak from a member state perspective.
I am the delagate from Malta with regards to youth policy and representing Malta in both the institutions.
And as I was explaining in a nutshell the process, because you
said it's complicated, but in reality it's more complicated than...
I tried to be as short as possible.
But once these documents are adopted, in reality, then it is up
to the member states where they take them up to implement them.
Of course, at a European level, both the institutions take up measures to implement the policy, but
then within each member state, there are no laws which say that this member state has to follow that.
This is not a legal document at all.
So in reality, it's up to the member state which decides whether
they wanted to take up and implement this policy at a national level.
And I'm talking from experience, what usually happens is that each state has its own national youth policy
and usually while they are devising a national youth policy these documents I referred to and these documents
are also taken into consideration and in a way infused or integrated within the national youth policy.
So this is really how it works again, very, in a very simplified
manner, how it works at a member state level, of course.
And because we have to remember as well that, I mean Federike started off this introduction very well.
These are two institutions with different aims, missions and so on, but
again, within all of this, each member state has got his different contexts.
They've got their own finances dedicated to youth policy.
And again, each member state has to decide where and what priorities and they will take up and what can be applied at
national level and then it goes further down, depending on how big the state is to the regional and the local level.
I agree with, Miriam and I want to stress that, in my opinion, having followed,
especially the process of implementation of the EU youth strategy the last 10 years.
These both actually both strategies provide a kind of guidance to member states.
And what Miriam said is important that we have to differ between the two levels, the European level,
where both documents have a clear direction of what the institutions should do, whereas for the member
states it's more guidance and there are member states, which are using this guidance very actively.
And there are also member states, for which a lot of things in the
youth strategies, in the youth sector strategy is not really new.
So they are picking out what is really interesting for them and working on that.
And sometimes what is coming from the European level is also a kind of support actually for what they are
developing on a national level, and what may be in national discussions is difficult to get through, but
then they have the support from European institutions, from a European document, that the direction in
which they want to go is actually a one which is supported by the European union or the Council of Europe.
And that's is very helpful.
Dariusz: Okay, thank you.
You have been talking about the big involvement of young people, both in the
consultation process, but also in the implementation of both strategies.
And, when I was reading the study, it's very clear that in both
strategies, this participation of young people is very important.
It's a key for the implementation and for the effectiveness of both strategies.
It's even expressed in a very nice way.
I think in in the EU youth strategy that young people are seen as experts of their own lives.
So young people, are the most important in this.
And also in the Council of Europe, the co-management or sustaining the co-management structure, which
involves directly the voice of young people coming from youth organizations, youth networks, and so on.
How well reflected is it or is it reflected well enough in the strategies, this
involvement, especially when it comes to the implementation of both youth strategies.
Tanya: Maybe I can, come in because it is a sort of continuation to what Miriam and Frederike were explaining earlier.
I think that these strategies, they help all the members states take
forward certain aspects of policy implementation that is of common interest.
And that really overlaps almost.
It's not just a complimentarity, but they want to do it together.
The whole continent on the same topics.
For example, on youth work, on youth participation, these remain, almost as transverseal objectives.
They are allowing all member states to connect to one common European objective.
And the EU side does it through the youth dialogue at European level, but of course in
each member state, there may be many more interesting national and local initiatives.
And in the Council of Europe, it is this constant feeding from the youth
organizations through the Advisory Council on Youth of these topics.
But what is also interesting, I think for many member states is that when new challenges arise, they sometimes
need, feel the need to exchange, learn how are the others coping with these challenges, what are they doing?
We have seen that with the COVID context that there have been a few exchanges and a few session among
policy makers, where they really needed to see who is focusing on what to keep the policy driving.
And I think it's partly reflected also that is where maybe sometimes some member
states are more experienced on a specific topic, like mental health of young people,
like supporting maybe this kind of all around service offered to young people.
That permeates to European policies in that context.
People raise it up.
It's be it through the young people's consultations or through the policy exchanges.
And these strategies have to remain flexible in that sense, because as soon as this will be blocked and it will say we
only focus on participation, youth work, social inclusion, it's going to be difficult for some member states to connect.
That was something that I wanted to add to what Frederike was saying.
For some it's guidance.
Others are much more ahead and yet there are topics that come up
and people need that flexibility of the strategies to allow for it.
Dariusz: Okay, thank you, Tanya.
I think we will come back a little bit to this, to the situation that
young people are facing that are related with the impact of COVID-19.
At the beginning, we were talking a little bit what are the differences but there's also a lot
of commonalities and one area of commonality that is clearly identified in the paper is youth
work, which is the concern of both institutions and also cooperation between both institutions.
So if we look at youth work, which both institutions are working for a lot through different instruments as well.
Because the EU has instruments like Erasmus+, for example.
Council of Europe has a training program and European Youth Foundation as well.
So there's a lot of instruments that can be used to support youth work.
So what can we expect, actually, from this cooperation between both institutions when it comes to youth work?
Tanya: I think that there has been a clear statement of intent at the third European Youth
Work Convention, where the two organizations presented their vision for more cooperation,
better cooperation on offering a youth work opportunity for all young people all over Europe.
And how that will be delivered, it's...
we are only at the start of the implementation, and I think that more ideas are on the table still.
And, it will become maybe more clear as time goes by who takes charge of which aspect of that policy implementation.
But definitely it's exciting.
Let's say the area of youth work is very dynamic.
There's a lot of interest.
There's also a lot of expectations that have been created in preparation for the convention.
Yeah, lots to happen still.
For example, the EU is starting an expert group on youth work, which was
something that they declared at the convention that they would be doing.
They want to develop a platform for youth workers.
And the council of Europe is already reaching the moment where it will
have to launch the review of its recommendation on youth work next year.
Miriam: In reality, when a policy is devised, it needs to go to an implementation, we need tools to implement this.
And again, as you were saying, we have Erasmus plus funding as a tool because of course we also need funding
to implement this, and Erasmus+ can be used at the European level, it can be used also at the national level.
So these are, these are the tools that these two institutions are providing to member
states, and youth organisations to implement, to help them implement these strategies.
Of course, every member state have its own tools to continue implementing the national youth policy together
with this integrated European approach, because to be be fair, I think, and this is my perception, but a lot of
European youth policy and also youth policy, which has come about from the European institutions has been taken up.
In fact, I see this as something which we have almost completely Europeanized.
It's a big discussion over there, but it's one of the, it's one of the things that I think it's very much Europeanized.
But again, as Tanya was saying, I mean Erasmus+, EYF, the trainings are not enough.
And this is why it's from the European Youth Work Convention, this is why, and
there was this plea in a wave from the people in the field that we want more tools.
We want more support.
Not only from national government, but also from the European institutions.
And the idea of having the partnership and the idea of focusing on youth work, came up from this to
try and come up with some tools now, rather than focusing on everything, really focusing on youth work.
And this is what I see the partnership ultimately doing.
Yes, Tanya said this, it's something which we are developing and something that
needs thoughts and will develop along the years, it's not something that you can
really plan because policy and strategies are passed through at different evolutions.
It's not something which is static.
So yes, I see that, definitely we need to continue identifying more practices,
identifying more innovation in youth work and understanding more what youth work is.
These are the things that connecting to people more and putting more expertise and forward
it to member states and organizations to understand how youth work can impact young people.
This is in reality, what I see that ultimately the partnership will start up doing,
and probably then it will have a ripple effect on other institutions to do as well.
Frederike: I completely agree with Tanya and Miriam.
I think that the interesting thing actually is that two organizations, two institutions who
both have a history in youth work are now focusing more and more on cooperation and bringing
the resources on youth work, actually together and thus in this way strengthening youth work
without lessening actually their own strengths and their own competencies in youth work.
The EU is at this moment much more focused on the recognition on
competences and skills for young people learn through youth work.
Whereas the Council of Europe, in the strategy is more focused on access and
attractiveness of youth work and, learning opportunities for young people.
And I think this combination of both and then the youth partnership, basically in the middle, as a cooperation
between these institutions, can even strengthen this path both institutions are now taking together, even, more.
Tanya: I was wondering if, Frederica you would, and Miriam, you would be able to reflect a little bit
on the commonalities that were identified in the paper related to social inclusion of young people and
maybe a little bit what are the member states expectations or intentions in the coming years about.
Miriam: I think when I look at social inclusion, in reality, when we look at young people, it's not only the youth
policy that we should look into, but there are so many other policies which are also addressed to young people.
And, when it comes to social inclusion, the way I look at it is that both strategies are talking about
inclusion and there is an intersection there, but besides that, there are other strategies at European level
by the two institutions as well regarding inclusion and so on and at national level, there are also policies.
Most of the member states have got specific policies on social inclusion and
inclusion as also parts of other different policies like education policy.
So in reality, I see here as a more of a cross-collaboration between the two
institutions and between the other European institutions, which are working on inclusion.
And it's really more of a wider framework and the wider guidelines
to the member states, to work on inclusion of young people.
And at member state level, it also can't be really implemented and further developed just by the youth
sector, but again, a cross-collaboration between the ministry working for youth or the people who are
responsible and working in the youth sector with other stakeholders, which are working a lot with inclusion.
This is how I see the issue then of inclusion and the strategies
as a more holistic, looking at it as a more holistic approach.
Frederike: You are definitely right there, Miriam.
I think that, with regard to inclusion, if you look at both documents, when it comes to the EU youth strategy, you
very clearly see in the document that inclusion is basically one of the guiding principles, it's behind everything
written in the strategy because what the strategy is basically saying is that young people live in different situations.
And in order to include them in society, we need different activities, and we need different policies for young people.
And that of course also relates to the cross-sectoral collaboration.
And then if you look to the Council of Europe, you see a very clear relationship
in the youth sector strategy between inclusion and democratic citizenship.
If there is no participation for young people, then there is no inclusion for young people possible.
Young people don't feel acknowledged.
And this whole concept of democratic citizenship, this whole concept of democracy, which is very relevant
in the Council of Europe, is having a harder stand basically because, what the Council of Europe is
actually arguing is that if you really want a democratic society, then you need a participatory society,
and that means not only participation of people older than 18 who can vote, but also participation
of all young people, who can have their say because they are basically experts in their own life.
That's a phrase from the EU, but it's implicitly in the Council of Europe as well.
And I think that this very important.
Dariusz: We are slowly heading towards the end of our episode.
Both strategies were written before COVID.
I would like to ask the last question.
How relevant are they now?
Are they still valid?
Miriam: When I reflect on this, in reality, I still say to myself that, yes, I think those two strategies are
still valid because the strategies are open enough and enable us to adapt to what is happening at the moment.
Perhaps, they definitely were not open enough for something very extraordinary to happen like the pandemic, but still, I
think that if we look at the COVID recovery plans of the different member states, and listen to what member states are
presenting and how this is going to affect young people and what we have in strategies is still there, is still valid.
And the only thing that I can see is that we might need to prioritize some, some
parts of the strategy more before others, or more than we thought we would prioritize.
And another thing that we really have to think of is again, and because of this post-COVID recovery plan and the
funding that's put in the post-COVID recover plan is how is the youth sector going to try and get some of this funding.
And the question would be whether we are strong enough, we've got enough capacity to be able to use
this funding and be able to show that the funding is being used in an accountable manner and at
the same time, addressing the both European youth strategies and also their own national strategy.
Frederike: I think both strategies are very relevant at this moment.
Yes, they both have been written, have been adopted before pandemic, but if you look at what topics
they're ever actually covering and which topics are relevant now, they are basically the same.
They have different backgrounds now, they have different priorities and
different importance since, compared to the situation two years ago.
For example, the discussion on education and learning and what youth work,\ can do to bring
competencies, to give young people opportunities and competencies - this question is the same.
The background is a different one.
We're now talking about, we were talking about young people as a
resource for society, for employment sector, et cetera, two years ago.
So the question is basically the same, but the background or the reason why we are asking the questions are different.
So we will have to reflect this background for coping with these questions, but the questions both
strategies are dealing with, if you look at youth work, the role of youth work, if you look at role of the
youth policy sector, if you look at the role of young people in society, which both strategies are very
heavily dealing with, what is role actually for young people when society, these questions are still very
relevant and important, but their background, why we're asking these questions, this background has changed.
Dariusz: Thank you, Miriam and Frederike for your input.
And I think we said it somewhere at certain point in this episode that
these strategies are guidelines, but they are not written in stone.
There is a process of implementation.
There is an ongoing process of reflection on what works, what doesn't, what
should be maybe amended, what should be changed, what should be adapted.
And, only in this situation, the strategy has a value that it's
always trying to be relevant to the lives of young people in Europe.
Thanks a lot again.
and yeah, and goodbye.