During its September plenary session, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an own-initiative opinion on the EU Youth Test. For years, young people have demanded that their voices be heard in decision-making processes. With this opinion, the EESC becomes the first EU body to support their call for a mechanism to assess the impact of future legislation on youth.
It is more important than ever to ensure that young people have a voice in decision-making across all sectors. Policies that were previously thought to be not directly targeting young people or not part of the traditional youth policy field can evidently have a significant impact on the lives of young people and future generations.
The Committee argues that to achieve long-lasting impact and a legacy beyond the European Year of Youth, young people need to be empowered to lead the change and to build a better future. They need to be involved in policy-making and their participation should be followed by monitoring, evaluation and impact assessments to ensure that young people's perspectives are taken into account when policy decisions are made.
Young people are calling for the EU Youth Test said the EESC rapporteur of the opinion, Katrĩna Leitāne,
To make regulations and policies better, the EU Youth Test should be introduced. An impact analysis tool designed to ensure no negative impact of any policies is foreseen on youth and future generations by meaningfully engaging with young people and proposing mitigation measures.
Participation of young people in policy and decision-making processes can help improve regulation and policies by mapping and understanding current and emerging trends that affect the lives of young people and future generations. These processes should include clear and transparent communication of the results of their participation, in order to foster trust between young people and policy-makers.
The EESC acknowledges the reference to the EU Youth Test in the European Commission's Communication on the outcomes of the Conference on the Future of Europe. However, it emphasises that the Commission's proposal falls short of the original proposal's goals, lacks meaningful engagement with youth organisations and experts, fails to mainstream youth in all policies, and fails to consider the long-term impact of policies on future generations. The EESC believes that an EU Youth Test should be included in the Better Regulation Toolbox as a separate tool, since future generations and young people deserve specific attention.
Civil society organisations can play a critical role in engaging young people in societal challenges and thus in their participation in policy-making and the democratic process. Such organisations can serve as bridges and support networks to help young people engage with formal public bodies and enable young people to become active citizens. The EESC supports these organisations and young citizens in taking action and calls for measures to enable them to do so.
The EESC also calls for greater interinstitutional cooperation in aligning existing successful initiatives such as the EU Youth Dialogue, "Your Europe, Your Say!" and the European Youth Event. In addition, the Committee outlines a list of proposals to foster youth participation within the EESC itself and will consider ways to incorporate the EU Youth Test concept into its work.