Sonntag, September 16, 2007


Opening Lisbon EU-Presidency Youth Event

One in six young EU Europeans still leaves school early and 4.6 million 15-24 year-olds are unemployed - twice the overall EU unemployment rate. Young people face more then ever complicated transitions from education to work, from childhood to adulthood. Through this youth event we as youth organisations will try to improve the situation for young people in Europe –through our own commitment and through recommendations to other policy makers.

We will have 6 workshops this week and one overall theme: volunteering
The Role of youth in the European construction - Very few political issues get much airtime in the lives of European teens and twentysomethings; in this first working group many issues that do appear on the radar of many teens and twentysomethings – mobility, global cooperation and intercultural learning.

Employment and Entrepreneurship – right now at the time of the revision of Lisbon employment guidelines, and when cross-sectoral approach to youth policy is taken serious thought the commission communication that will be presented to us tomorrow; this is a topic very high on the agenda.

Social inclusion and Equal Opportunities for all - It is unfortunately the case that many people seem to be stuck in a lifetime of disadvantage; the problems they face are multiple, entrenched and often passed down across generations. Urgent and multi layered action is needed to break this vicious circle.

Youth participation and structured Dialogue - Though it may seem subversive, the mobilisation of youth leading to widespread support for social change has been essential to politics. The European Youth Forum is convinced that youth organisations are key to the continuous democratisation of societies. Democracy is, for us, much more than a specific institutional structure with decisions based on majority - democratisation is a process that empowers people and includes them in society.

Non-formal education – learning is happening more and more outside of schools but so far our formal systems fail to recognise all the competences that people gain in non-formal settings this is short-sighted and harming the development opportunities of each and everyone of us and therefore of the society as a whole.

All of the mentioned working group themes have something in common - Volunteering- There are many reasons why people are volunteers; Altruism, Quality of life, giving back, sense of duty, Religious conviction or idealistic aims of social progress – but all of them are about compassion and an immediate contribution to justice. And yes, volunteers are not paid - not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless. Its volunteers who carry the “Idea Europe” – therefore a clear vision on how to genuinely promote youth volunteering is needed. For volunteering its true that one snowflake alone will melt very fast, but many together will stop the traffic. But maybe snowflakes are not something we should think of whilst being in Lisbon.

This youth event must be understood as a component of the general culture of youth participation, reflective of a system of good governance, and not, rather, as a one-off, symbolic action, it is an event embedded in the structural dialogue. But this also means that you are responsible to represent your organisation and follow up on the conclusions on this event, not only within your organisation but also by holding decision makers accountable to live up to their promises.
The themes of this Youth Event are evidently then, not simple ones; but by examining them, we hope to demonstrate a genuine belief that social exclusion is neither inevitable nor insurmountable, that together we can find political solutions for political problems - and that youth organisations play a vital role when doing so. As you will find, our common efforts to broaden opportunities, from the local level up to the international, imbue every single day of our youth event in Lisbon. Enjoy it to the fullest.

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