The European Commission has today launched its new flagship initiative “Investing in Europe’s Youth”. Whilst the European Youth Forum welcomes action on young people’s issues at such a high level, we believe it would have benefitted from further engagement and consultation with youth organisations.
One of the main parts of the new initiative, “Investing in Europe’s Youth”, is the European Solidarity Corps, announced by President Juncker during his State of the Union address in September. The Youth Forum, along with volunteering organisations – whilecommitted to help make this initiative a success – is worried about the message that it sent by the lack of consultation with young people themselves, the group that the project seeks to directly target.
In order to develop a European Solidarity Corps that truly involves and engages young people, the Youth Forum calls for the European Commission to take on board the recommendations of the youth and volunteering sectors, which was backed by 27 MEPs last week. And it urges the Commission to build on the activities and experience of existing volunteering organisations and not simply rebrand or take away funding from current schemes, such as the European Voluntary Service (EVS). Nor should funding be taken away from already underfunded programmes such as Erasmus+ and Europe for Citizens. Independent funding streams must be created as soon as possible, in cooperation with young people and youth organisations.
The European Commission also announced today proposals to encourage apprenticeship mobility through ‘ErasmusPro’ as well as a quality framework for apprenticeships. The Youth Forum welcomes this focus on quality and urges the Commission to ensure an approach to apprenticeships that focuses on the learner, with consultation of apprentice and student representatives in developing the Framework. The Youth Forum also calls for the new Framework to deliver much more than the Quality Framework for Traineeships, which failed to ensure quality traineeships for young people.
In general today’s announcement brings a welcome spotlight, as well as proposals for action, on the many issues young people in Europe face today. However, the way in which it has been developed, without real consultation with young people, means that the solutions that are proposed may not ultimately deliver for them.
Johanna Nyman, President of the European Youth Forum, said:
“We are worried that without additional resources, the ambitious proposal for the European Solidarity Corps risks simply taking funds away from current successful volunteering schemes, whilst not actually delivering on the promise of new skills for young people.
“On the whole package, the European Commission yet again fails to understand the meaning of consultation and policy making which truly involves young people! The lack of genuine consultation makes us question whether these proposals are more than mere window dressing. We look forward, however, to working in partnership to make this package work for young people and youth organisations. Young people in Europe say ‘nothing about us, without us’!”