The European Commission is widening its scope of action in the field of youth

“Youth – Investing and Empowering” is a new EU strategy for youth policy for the coming decade adopted by the Commission.

The new strategy acknowledges the fact that (1) young people are one of the most vulnerable groups in society, especially in the current economic and financial crisis, and (2) in our ageing society, young people are a precious resource. The new strategy is cross-sectoral, with both short and long-term actions, which involve key policy areas that affect Europe’s young people, particularly youth education, employment, creativity and entrepreneurship, social inclusion, health and sport, civic participation, and volunteering. The new strategy also emphasises the importance of youth work and defines reinforced measures for a better implementation of youth policies at the EU level.

The young generation is a dwindling resource, whose present share of 20% of the population is projected to fall to 15% by 2050. Our youth are also a precious resource, and the current economic and financial crisis especially highlights the need to nurture young human capital. While young people in the EU today enjoy greater opportunities, they also face difficult challenges, as many drop out of school and employment, or are threatened by poverty and social exclusion.

According to surveys, education, employment, social inclusion and health are issues which most of all preoccupy today’s young people. Europe’s youth must also be empowered to benefit from opportunities such as civic and political participation, volunteering, creativity and entrepreneurship, sport and global engagement. To confront such challenges, and open up opportunities for all young people, the Commission is proposing a renewed EU youth strategy that sets out a wide-ranging response.

The strategy “Youth – Investing and Empowering”, which is a follow-up to the renewed social agenda announced by the European Commission in 2008, has the following goals:

* to create more opportunities for youth in education and employment,
* to improve access and full participation of all young people in society, and
* to foster solidarity between youth and society.

It emphasises the important role of youth work in dealing with unemployment, school failure and social exclusion, as well as improving skills and providing leisure time.

The Commission proposes to employ a cross-sectoral approach to address all youth related issues, with the new strategy outlining different actions to be pursued by the Commission and the Member States. As such, it constitutes a part of the EU’s coordinated response to the current crisis.

The strategy proposes a better, more flexible and simplified method of coordinating youth policy among the Member States, with reinforced links with the Lisbon Strategy for more growth and jobs.
The Commission’s adoption of the new strategy on youth follows an extensive consultation exercise undertaken in 2008, involving national authorities, the European Youth Forum, youth organizations and other stakeholders. Young people themselves were consulted on-line and will now be invited to react to the Commission’s proposals in a new phase of the permanent dialogue between the EU and its youth.

Today also sees the publication of the Commission’s first “EU Youth Report”, which includes detailed data and analysis compiled by EUROSTAT. These reports will now be published every three years and will contribute to providing a better knowledge base in the field of youth.

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