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European Youth Pact
This Communication shows how the Member States can put into operation the European Youth Pact, which was adopted by the European Council in March 2005, tying in with the European strategies for employment and social inclusion and the "Education and Training 2010" work programme. The main aim is to improve the education, training, mobility, vocational integration and social inclusion of young Europeans, while facilitating the reconciliation of family and working life. The Commission is also seeking to achieve consistency of initiatives in these different areas, and wants the Member States to consult young people in connection with developing and following up these initiatives.
Commission Communication of 30 May 2005 on European policies concerning youth: Addressing the concerns of young people in Europe - implementing the European Youth Pact and promoting active citizenship [COM(2005) 206 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The Communication draws attention to the three strands of the Pact adopted by the European Council in March 2005:
- employment, integration and social advancement;
- education, training and mobility;
- reconciliation of family life and working life.
The measures to be taken in these three areas will have to be fully incorporated into the revised Lisbon Strategy, the European Employment Strategy, the Social Inclusion Strategy and the " Education and Training 2010 " work programme.
For the purpose of implementing the different measures, the Member States will draw on the "integrated guidelines for growth and employment", within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy.
The Commission's text highlights the aspects of the integrated guidelines and the Community Lisbon programme that are relevant to the Pact.
Measures for the employment, integration and social advancement of young people
The following guidelines have the most relevance for young people:
- promotion of a life-cycle approach to work (entailing, inter alia, renewed efforts to build employment pathways for young people and to reduce youth unemployment, in tandem with resolute action to eliminate gender gaps in employment, unemployment and pay);
- creation of inclusive labour markets for job-seekers and disadvantaged people;
- improvement in the matching of labour market needs;
- expansion of investment in human capital;
- adjustment of education and training systems in response to new skills requirements.
The Member States will receive financial assistance from the European Social Fund and the European Investment Bank for implementing the necessary measures. The Commission wants the Member States to devise tailor-made action plans providing job search assistance, guidance services and training. The Communication also proposes that:
- the Commission and the Member States give priority to young people in the mutual learning programme on employment in 2005;
- the Commission and the Member States, through the Social Inclusion Strategy, improve the situation of the most vulnerable young people;
- the Commission launch a study on the social integration of highly disadvantaged young people in 2005.
Measures for education, training and mobility
The priorities are:
- reducing the number of early school leavers;
- widening access to vocational, secondary and higher education, including apprenticeships and entrepreneurship training;
- defining common frameworks to make qualification systems more transparent;
- tackling the validation of non-formal and informal learning;
- implementing the Europass decision;
- developing a "Youthpass".
The Commission intends, during 2005 and 2006, to:
- adopt a Communication on entrepreneurship education;
- propose a European Qualifications Framework;
- adopt a Recommendation on key competences.
The Communication looks at ways of enhancing young people's mobility, highlighting a number of initiatives:
- in 2006, the European Year of Worker Mobility, specific initiatives will be taken for the benefit of young people entering the job market;
- from 2007, there will be follow-up to the 2002-05 action plan of the Commission and the Member States for skills and mobility;
- the Member States will be asked to boost implementation of the Recommendation on the mobility of students, persons undergoing training, volunteers, teachers and trainers;
- the Commission will adapt tools such as EURES and PLOTEUS with a view to enhancing the opportunities for young people to work and study abroad;
- the Commission will, in 2005, make recommendations on a mobility card for young people in Europe;
- the Commission will think about extending the "Working holidays" initiative;
- the Commission and the Member States will, in 2007, implement new forms of European Voluntary Service.
Measures for reconciling family life and working life
The Communication makes it clear that a better balance is needed between work and family life in order to tackle the problems associated with demographic ageing and a low birth rate. With a view to better reconciling family and working life, the Commission will encourage:
- the Member States to make provision for quality accessible and affordable childcare facilities and care for other dependants;
- the Member States, assisted by the Commission, to develop new forms of work organisation, such as flexitime, tele-working, maternity and parental leave.
Following on from the Green Paper on Europe's changing demographics, the Commission has launched a process of consultation with the aim of identifying policies to be pursued or reinforced at European and national levels.
THE ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP OF YOUNG PEOPLE
The citizenship of young people is a focal point of the open method of coordination. With a view to improving participation, information, voluntary activities and knowledge of youth issues, the Council adopted 14 common objectives in 2003 and 2004. In its Communication of October 2004 [COM(2004) 694 final], the Commission gave a positive evaluation of the activities conducted at European level, while stressing the need for suitable measures at national level to consolidate the common objectives.
The Pact and associated actions ought to give rise to better understanding and greater knowledge of youth in the areas concerned, namely:
- integration and inclusion;
- recognition of youth work.
THE YOUTH DIMENSION IN OTHER POLICIES
The Communication draws attention to other policies which are relevant to young people:
- since 2005, the European campaign "For Diversity - Against Discrimination" has been extended to young people;
- a European initiative for the health of children and young people is planned for 2006;
- studies focusing specifically on youth will be undertaken as part of the Sixth Research Framework Programme;
- the Seventh Research Framework Programme will include youth-related research, which could focus on the impact of young people's participation in representative democracy and voluntary activities;
- the Commission will launch, in 2005, a public consultation on sport.
Policy actions targeting young people should be accompanied by programmes supporting projects that encourage young people to become active citizens. Various European programmes support such projects:
- European Social Fund;
- European Regional Development Fund;
- Rural Development Fund;
- " Youth " and "Youth in Action";
- Integrated Lifelong Learning Programme;
- " Citizens for Europe ";
- Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme;
- Marie Curie Programme;
- European Science Education Initiative.
INVOLVEMENT OF YOUNG PEOPLE
As far as the Pact itself is concerned, the European Council has emphasised the need to consult young people and their organisations both on the development of national reform programmes for the Lisbon Strategy and on follow-up action. National youth councils should, in any event, be among those consulted.
The Commission also intends to consult young people and the European Youth Forum on youth policy. This consultation process will culminate in the holding of a Youth Assembly in 2005. In addition, the Commission hopes that this assembly will be a precursor of "annual encounters" between young people and Commissioners.
This Communication builds on the European Youth Pact adopted by the Heads of State or Government during the European Council of March 2005.
Adoption of the Pact coincides with the completion of the first cycle of implementing the White Paper on a new impetus for European youth, published in 2001.