EU Youth Presidency Events
1. EU Youth Conference, 11thMarch - 13th March 2013, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin
The EU Youth Conference was hosted by Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and was the flagship event in the Irish Presidency Youth Programme. This Conference is a core element of the European Commission's structured dialogue process with young people which brings together young people and policy-makers across the EU to jointly discuss and feed into youth policy at national and European level.
The EU Youth Conference is the culmination of the EU wide consultation with youth in which young people in all 27 Member States participate. Consultation in Member States on the theme of the social inclusion of young people took place from the end of November 2012 to mid-February 2013 in preparation for the EU Conference in Dublin in March 2013.
In preparation for the Conference, national consultations took place between November and February across all Member States, including Ireland’s ‘Young voices – Have your say’. Seven thematic areas covering education, employment, access to welfare and equal rights and equal opportunities to participate in society were drawn from the results of these consultations in which over 11,000 young people and youth representatives participated.
The thematic areas from the national consultations were explored at the Conference via joint workshop sessions, with almost 180 young people and Ministry officials from the 27 Member States taking part, resulting in 21 jointly defined conclusions.
The Conference Conclusions have been progressed by Ireland as the current President of the European Union, with a number of these informing Council Conclusions on the contribution of quality youth work to the development, well-being and social inclusion of young people which were adopted by the Council of Youth Ministers on the 16th May, 2013. The Conference conclusions have also informed the second phase of the Structured Dialogue process under the Lithuanian Presidency and will also contribute to the development of a Council Resolution on Social Inclusion to be proposed during the Greek Presidency.
A number of inputs were presented by young people engaged in youth services and experts working in the youth field.
Guest speaker Dr. John Bamber, Project Specialist at the Centre for Effective Services and Michael Barron, Director of Belong To Youth Service spoke about their own experiences and the impact of youth work on social inclusion and social change.
Youth services who took part include Hi Rez Youth Centre in Bray, Co. Wicklow who presented on social inclusion, youth work experience and examples of good practice through the Core Principles of the National Quality Standards Framework. The National Association of Youth Drama preformed an especially commissioned piece on social inclusion which included powerful messages on youth unemployment and marginalisation while Buí Bolg Youth Group from Co. Wexford also performed on the day, showcasing the innovation and quality of Youth Arts in Ireland.
The opportunity to hear from youth work experts and young people in Ireland proved a highlight of the Conference. These inputs were found to be inspiring and motivating to delegates when participating in the workshop sessions.
- Opening Press Release from the Conference 11th March 2013
- Minister Fitzgerald's Speech from the Opening Plenary
- Young Voices - Have Your Say (Summary Report)
- Closing Press Release from the Conference 11th March 2013
- Joint Conclusions EU Youth Conference Dublin 13th March 2013
2. Informal Meeting of Directors General of Youth – 13th March 2013,
Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin
This event was held directly following the EU Youth Conference and attended by the Directors’ General of Youth from each Member State, the Council Secretariat and Officials of the European Commission. During this event a number of key presentations were made on the personal, social and economic impact of youth work, following which, this theme was debated in detail and a range of key issues identified which directly informed the planning of the May Council of Youth Ministers meeting.
3. Council of Youth Ministers Meeting, 16th May 2013, Brussels
Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, chaired a meeting of the EU Council of Youth Ministers in Brussels on 16th May. In this role, Ireland brought forward work on a number of issues related to how quality youth work can contribute to young people’s development, well-being and social inclusion – this includes advancing the introduction of quality standards in youth work services and also how youth policy and the youth sector can bring about new synergies and elements in addressing the pressing challenges being experienced by Europe’s young people, in particular youth unemployment.
The Council of Youth Ministers formally adopted two EU Council Conclusions:
These Conclusions emphasise the distinct contribution youth policy offers to the lives of young people through its holistic and cross-cutting response and its direct connection and involvement with young people and civil society. Included are a number of concrete measures aimed raising the profile of youth work at EU level and mainstreaming youth work into broader EU policy responses to youth employment and social inclusion. These include:
• Establishing a new EU working group on quality youth work
• Strengthening the working relationship between the Council of Youth Ministers and other Council of Minister configurations
• Mainstreaming youth policy input into the European Semester reporting process
• Recognition of centrality of youth work in contributing to the Europe 2020 growth and jobs agenda
• Recognition of the role of youth work in implementing the proposed Youth Guarantee
• Greater coordination between EU youth policy and education, training and employment policies
Youth Input: A video by the Young Irish Filmmakers was especially commissioned for the meeting. This was based on the EU Youth Conference Joint Conclusions relating to employment, education and participation in civic life and gave young people in Ireland a voice to articulate the challenges they face, express what they get out of youth work and suggest recommendations for Youth Ministers in responding to these challenges. View the video here .
Presentations by Experts: The meeting also heard presentations from two experts in the youth field: Dr Massimiliano Mascherini, Research Manager, Eurofound, Dublin, Ireland; and Dr John Bamber, Project Specialist, Centre for Effective Services, Dublin, Ireland, in relation to the current challenges European young people are facing and the contribution of youth work in addressing these. These presentations informed the central question of the interactive Ministerial debate on issues which are impacting on Europe’s young people.
Policy Debate: The Ministerial debate focused on the immediate and practical actions Youth Ministers can take to harness the potential for quality youth work to better meet the present days challenges faced by Europe’s young people. Ministers responded to this question by drawing on a range of good practices currently being developed and implemented in their Member State as well recommendations for an EU level response though youth policy and youth work.
Key messages emerging from the debate include:
• The need for prompt implementation of the ‘Council Recommendation on the Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning’.
• Recognise the skills acquired by young people in their engagement in youth work through a common recognition mechanism such as certificates and portfolios in an effort to enhance and support employability.
• Well evidenced outcomes are needed to articulate the value of youth work to other fields through personal testimonies, interviews with stakeholders and desk research.
• A database and international exchanges to share learning and good practices in youth work is recommended at European level to ensure that youth work is horizontal and does not work in isolation.
• As youth policy is cross-cutting, consideration could be given to ‘youth proofing’ in future policy development.
4. Roundtable Event, 20-21 June 2013, Castletown House, Kildare
The final event of the Irish Presidency will take place on 20th to 21st June, 2013 when Minister Fitzgerald hosts a high-level roundtable meeting of experts and stakeholders from Member States. European Institutions, European Youth Forum, domestic youth work interests and Irish Government Departments in Castletown House, County Kildare. The purpose is to further to examine the contribution youth work can make to enhancing youth employment. A number of experts are being invited to provide inputs on this topic, including researchers, economists and youth work experts, with the aim of informing a declaration for further action on both the domestic and European level.