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These conclusions highlight the importance of cross-border youth mobility to the development of young people as well as to that of Europe. They invite the Member States and the Commission to take steps to promote the mobility of young people and to create an efficient and cross-cutting European policy for mobility.
Conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council of 21 November 2008 on youth mobility [Official Journal C 320 of 16.12.2008].
The mobility of young people is essential in promoting a sense of belonging to Europe, enhancing social and occupational integration, and ensuring a competitive European economy. However, the mobility of young people is not widespread, regardless of the success of the Erasmus programme.
All young people in Europe should have opportunities for mobility. This should consist of physical mobility, whereby the young person will stay in another European country to study, do an internship, volunteer or carry out other training. In the educational context, “virtual mobility” may also contribute to the mobility of young people. Through mobility, young people may develop their skills and competences, thus improving their versatility and employability.
A European policy for mobility should be cross-cutting, provide for the arrangements with which opportunities for mobility are prepared and supported, and promote the recognition of learning outcomes from periods of mobility and the development of opportunities for mobility for teachers and trainers. Young people coming from disadvantaged backgrounds or having special needs must receive particular consideration.
In light of the above, Member States are encouraged to:
- provide further opportunities for cross-border mobility within education, training and volunteering, thereby transforming mobility into a widespread phenomenon;
- take steps to attain the objectives of the current European Union (EU) programmes for education, youth, culture, citizenship and research;
- build on the work of the High Level Expert Forum in order to facilitate the participation of all young people in mobility schemes and enhance the mobility of all educational staff;
- take action at various levels and in partnership with various stakeholders to increase opportunities for mobility.
The Member States and the Commission are invited to set out measures to remove possible barriers to mobility and to ensure the recognition of cross-border mobility periods. In particular, they should:
- develop scope for mobility by promoting active coordination between stakeholders so that the management of public sector support is enhanced, taking advantage of relevant EU programmes, considering the needs of disadvantaged youth and encouraging the establishment of new opportunities for mobility;
- inform about mobility programmes by disseminating information via various means to young people and their families, educational staff and youth workers, as well as by supporting the implementation of relevant EU programmes;
- simplify procedures for implementing the EU programmes, for creating the financial incentive strategies and for enhancing the recognition of learning outcomes from periods of mobility;
- provide funding sources for mobility through appropriate Community financial instruments such as the Structural Funds and by promoting funding from public and private sectors, with particular support given to disadvantaged youth and youth with special needs;
- enhance the application of the European Quality Charter for Mobility principles in mobility schemes by promoting the exchange of best practices concerning reception conditions, the provision of proper living and working conditions as well as preparation for mobility, in particular from a linguistic and cultural point of view;
- increase knowledge of youth mobility through comparable statistics and survey results, as well as by conducting impact assessments on the cultural, educational and professional benefits of mobility.
Furthermore, the Commission is invited to set up a work plan for the incorporation of cross-border mobility into other EU programmes. Information on these programmes should then be disseminated as widely as possible, in order to promote them among young people. To this end, national “one-stop-shops” and a European youth mobility portal should be created. In addition, the Commission must provide a mid-term report on the developments of youth mobility in Europe before the end of 2010, followed by regular reports. Finally, the Commission is requested to provide national authorities and other stakeholders with a guide on European policies that may be used to support mobility, as well as to investigate new financial support mechanisms.
The European Council decided in March 2008 to establish a “fifth freedom” whereby barriers to the free movement of knowledge would be removed. This also entails improved cross-border mobility of students, researchers, scientists and educational staff.