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After the 18 months of the Ireland- Lithuania- Greece Trio Presidency of the EU Council…the third cycle of the structured dialogue with young people on the topic of ‘social inclusion’ comes to an end with its last steps: the EU Youth Conference in Thessaloniki in March and the Council adopting in May a Conclusion and an overall Resolution on the topic based on the input received through the consultation process.
The goal of the Greek Presidency was to bring together the conversations on social inclusion started in Ireland and Lithuania to come up with concrete policy solutions. Despite the focus of the Hellenic Presidency being “youth entrepreneurship to foster social inclusion of young people”, therefore not close to the field of experience and expertise of EFIL, our organisation still wanted to be present to continue show commitment to and the engagement with the process as a whole, not only on a thematic basis.
At the EU Youth Conference in Greece on 9-12 March, EFIL was represented by Silvia Pieretto, the representative in charge of EU structured dialogue with young people. In this Conference that brought together young people and policy makers, Silvia brought EFIL’s opinion on social inclusion through youth entrepreneurship and participated in the workshop on ‘Quality Education, Guarantee Equal Learning Opportunities For All’. The agreed Joint recommendations reflected the main outcomes of the consultations held in the previous months involving about 15000 young people. This final document then served as a basis for the work of the EU Council of Ministers that on 20 May adopted the Conclusion on promoting youth entrepreneurship to foster social inclusion of young people and the overall Resolution on the overview of the structured dialogue process including social inclusion of young people.
Despite being an important first step, voices of disappointment, led by the European Youth Forum, underline how the overall Resolution fails to reflect the core messages and input from young people, such as the need for quality employment, better access to welfare, well-being and solidarity and did not clearly commit to any concrete policies for better social inclusion of young people.
Evaluation of one cycle… start of the next one!
Although the theme of this cycle, namely social inclusion, was not directly connected with EFIL/AFS priorities and advocacy, EFIL values the structured dialogue process because it is an exercise of active European Citizenship and allows young people and youth organisations to directly discuss with policy makers from the 28 EU Members states.
Therefore EFIL has fully committed to this third cycle of consultations by appointing a representative – Silvia Pieretto – to organise the consultation and attend the EU Youth Conferences where the opinions of youth in Europe were coming together and brought to the attention of policy makers. A big thanks to Silvia for making EFIL’s contribution to this process possible, and thanks to all the volunteers and AFS organisations who took part in the consultations!
Many valuable inputs were brought about by AFS volunteers and National AFS office and can be found in the 3 Council conclusions and in the Council Resolution. These documents are of key important for AFS organisations because – though they do not mention ‘exchanges’ or ‘intercultural learning’ directly – , they speak up for quality education, non formal education and active citizenship which are broader terms that support what AFS organisations do at grassroot level. For AFS organisations negotiating on national level with educational institutions and policy makers, it is important to know about these documents, refer to them and use the same language, since it is a language that is already recognised and negotiated at EU level.
If you want to review the SD process under this Trio Presidency, explore this presentation.
After this cycle, the next Trio Presidency ‘Italy-Latvia-Luxembourg’ is starting and is ready to engage young people all over Europe in consultations on ‘youth empowerment’. EFIL is keeping up its good practices and has already appointed a new representative to follow-up on the work that was started. Good luck to Charlotte Klinting – the incoming EFIL’s representative for SD – who will coordinate EFIL’s participation to this EU process! For the next cycle we look forward to an increased participation of International youth organisations in the process, now that they have been officially recognized as key stakeholders, also thanks to EFIL’s advocacy!
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