The 27 EU directors-general for youth, MEPs and young people alike are calling for urgent changes in youth, education and economic policies as every fifth young European lives on the poverty line and youth unemployment has reached 38%.
“The voice of young people must not only be heard but also taken properly into consideration,” said Zorko Škvor, the Slovenian director-general for youth, during a meeting with his European counterparts on Monday (21 April).
His comments came in response to the results of the Slovenian EU Presidency youth event held on 18-21 April. Entitled ‘Promoting the Participation of Young People with Fewer Opportunities in Society,’ the event gathered young participants from the EU 27, EFTA and Western Balkan countries to discuss youth mobility and employment in Europe, the role of young people in intercultural dialogue and their increased participation in political decision-making.
The event highlighted the issue of youth unemployment. According to the Slovenian Presidency, young people account for 38.5% (a total of 4.7 million) of all unemployed persons in Europe. The participants drafted proposals for an employment strategy that would ensure greater numbers of high-quality jobs for young people and link employment with active citizenship and life-long learning. Stressing the importance of the participation of young people in decision-making processes, they also proposed that dialogue with young people be further strengthened and structured at all levels.
“One fifth of young people in Europe live on the poverty line, 38% of the young people are unemployed, there has been a decline in literacy, etc. These are facts indicating that changes are urgently needed in youth policy but also in education and economic policy and young people have to become actively involved in this,” said Slovenian Education Minister Dr. Milan Zver.
The launch of a written declaration on devoting more attention to youth empowerment in EU policies, initiated by the European Youth Forum and sponsored by a small number of MEPs, is foreseen in the European Parliament today (22 April). The declaration calls on the Commission and member states to consider the impact on youth when preparing legislative proposals and implementing the Lisbon Agenda. The declaration will become an official Parliament demand if half of the MEPs sign it by 14 July 2008.
In 2005 the European Council adopted the European Youth Pact to promote participation of all young people in education, employment and society as part of the revised Lisbon Strategy.