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The fifth indent of Article 165(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) states that Union action is aimed at " encouraging the development of youth exchanges and of exchanges of socio-educational instructors, and encouraging the participation of young people in democratic life in Europe ".

Responsibility for youth affairs rests with the Member States, and action by the Union is essentially initiated by the Council, primarily through recommendations and programmes designed to develop cooperation and mobility at Union level. Such action is guided by the open method of coordination.

The 2001 White Paper on a new impetus for European youth marked a new stage in Union action. It essentially proposed that cooperation between Member States should be enhanced and that more account should be taken of the youth dimension in sectoral policies. Following up the White Paper, the European Youth Pact adopted in March 2005 identifies the fields in which consolidation is required, also with a view to achieving the Lisbon strategy objectives and strengthening education and training. The Pact puts the emphasis on improving the education, training, mobility, vocational integration and social inclusion of young Europeans, while helping to reconcile work and family life.

Going beyond this general framework for action, the Union is able to call on specific instruments to promote cooperation, thanks to the “Youth in Action” programme for the period 2007-13. This programme is designed to encourage young people, especially the most disadvantaged and the disabled, to participate in public life, and also to promote their sense of initiative, entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. In this way it  boosts the mobility of disadvantaged young people in an informal education setting, and also, through the European Voluntary Service (EVS), fosters involvement in projects within associations and local communities, both in Europe and in developing countries, thus promoting mutual understanding.


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