On January 25th, 2013, Nouvelle Europe guided a group of local representative and youth workers from Paris region for a day-seminar in Brussels aimed at raising awareness on European programs for youth, and especially on the programme "Youth in Action".
Three different conferences provided the group with complementary visions and information on existing programmes and guidelines for their use. The various questions raised by the current negotiations on the future EU budget were also debated.
One visit, three sessions
Our first conference was held by Mr. Pascal Lejeune, head of unit of the Youth in Action programme at the European Commission. The discussion was dedicated to the origins of European programmes for Education and Youth and the actions that can be implemented through the specific programme Youth in Action. Mr. Lejeune also evoked the proposal of financial framework published by the European Commission in June 2011 and the current debates around the future budget that could eventually be dedicated to this programme.
Our second meeting took place at the Youth Forum where Mrs. Alix Masson, Head of Policy Development and Advocacy Department, detailed the role of this pan European organization bearing a hundred members. The Youth Forum is a structure representing youth organizations, federations of European youth organisms and National Youth Councils. Their goal is to promote young people's rights and interests on the international and European levels. Thus, their targets are the European institutions, the Council of Europe but also the United-Nations in New-York.
Lastly, we met Mr. Stéphane Victor, Policy Officer for Education and Culture in the delegation of the region Ile-de-France to the European Union. He evoked the function of a regional delegation in Brussels and its role of interface between European institutions and territorial powers. Their priority is to promote the region’s interests but also to inform and technically assist the territorial bodies needing help in their access to European programmes.
The workshop's objective was to insist on the opportunities offered by the European Union on a local level, where project managers actually work (groups of young people, youth workers, volunteers, etc.). It also aimed at raising awareness on the existing means of exchanging opinions and ideas between the territorial and the European levels.
No need to say that European Commission’s subventions’ procedures are often complex and time-consuming, if not discouraging… And yet, the EU does offer numerous opportunities! That is why we need to tend towards a better understanding and appropriation of European programmes by the projects managers but also by elected representatives and youth workers.
Although Youth and Education remain exclusive competences of the Member States, the EU does appear as a pertinent and efficient level of action. Therefore, it has progressively created non-binding tools (such as the Open Coordination Method or OCM) and implemented soft law instruments in order to spread good practices and play a genuine role in the sector.
Today, the EU bears two types of frameworks: the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLL) and the European Programme Youth in Action (to which we can add exterior programmes and politics such as Erasmus Mundus). The first gathers all programmes for training and formal education such as Erasmus, Comenius or Leonardo da Vinci. Youth in Action is dedicated to all young people and aims at promoting mobility and non-formal training as well as intercultural dialogue.
Back to the future: the on-going negotiations
Our three speakers mentioned questions linked to the future European financial framework for 2014-2020. On the eve of this major deadline and while the European Commission revealed its financial framework proposal in June 2011, we were eager to know the opinions of different actors (European Parliament, Council, civil society) as well as their respective weight in the current negotiations.
As for the programmes for Education and Youth, the Commission proposed to merge the different existing frame programmes (Long Life Learning, Youth in Action, Erasmus Mundus) in one programme entitled “Erasmus for all” with two main goals: simplify the procedures and answer to the financial and economic crisis. In addition, Sport would then be included within the programme. Youth is the sector bearing the strongest rise in the budget’s proposal (+73%). A number that should, however, be relativized in regard to the allocated sum in the previous financial framework. The Commission in its proposal promotes a “horizontal” vision including three priorities that should be declined in all the implemented actions: learning mobility, cooperation (pear learning), political-orientated actions.
The Council of the EU should soon communicate its official position. Informally, it has expressed its support to the Commission’s proposal and the so-called “horizontal approach”. However, it wishes that the Youth sector (non-formal education) keeps its proper chapter.
The European Parliament has not yet expressed its opinion in plenary session (and the topic does not figure in the February Strasbourg session’s agenda). But, the Parliamentary Committee on Culture and Education has already questioned the name of the programme and proposed an alternative: “YES Europe” (YES for Youth, Education and Sport).
To be continued…