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Brussels, 27 April 2009

Consultations undertaken prior to the Commission's adoption of a new EU Youth Strategy on "Youth - Investing and Empowering"

An intensive dialogue with two target groups, young people throughout Europe and experts in youth policy, took place in order to prepare a new European Union strategy called "Youth – Investing and Empowering", which will guide the European youth policies over the next decade.

A number of actions were taken to sound out the opinions of young people about the current framework on youth policy and the shape of the future EU youth policy. These included the launch of an on-line questionaire, the organisation of youth events including the European Youth Week 2008, and sounding out the opinions of the European Youth Forum and National Youth Councils.

A cycle of dialogue on “Future challenges for young people” was launched in April 2008, ensuring the organisation of numerous debates at local, regional and national level, before and during the European Youth Week 2008. The feed-back of the outcomes of such debates was organised via the National Agencies of the EU programme Youth in Action.

The European Youth Week 2008 was organised in 31 countries in November 2008 and saw an unprecedented number of events and activities being organised throughout Europe. In Brussels some 200 young Europeans proposed improvements in the fields of participation and information, voluntary activities of young people, employment, entrepreneurship, social inclusion and well being, education, rights of young people, equality and anti-discrimination.

More than 5000 responses were obtained from an on-line consultation, which was organized for young people, youth organizations and individuals working with young people. The respondents indicated as the main challenges facing youth in the coming decade: unemployment, reform of education systems, the environment, social inclusion and active participation. According to them, EU actions should focus primarily on granting young people a more active role, helping them to get a job, increasing mobility, , creating more opportunities for young disadvantaged people and helping youth to become more independent.

Consultations with the Member States were organized in the form of a questionnaire, inviting the national authorities dealing with youth to assess the current co-operation framework and present their ideas for future co-operation in the field of youth. While the Member States' evaluation of the current framework was generally positive, they also noted certain limitations and shortcomings, such as low level of recognition of the cross-sectoral nature of youth policy and the need for a more inclusive dialogue with young people. The future challenges indicated by the Member States are broadly similar to those given by the young respondents: employment, education, active participation, marginalisation / inclusion, poverty, health and lifestyles.

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