The EESC points at the need to improve youth participation, tackling in particular the lack of youth democratic representation and the lack of a youth perspective outside of the traditional youth policy domain. The EU Youth Test should not substitute meaningful engagement with young people in general and should complement existing participatory mechanisms. It should be part of the Better Regulation Toolbox as a separate tool, since future generations and young people deserve specific attention. The EESC encourages the EU institutions and Member States to implement measures and mechanisms that ensure that the youth perspective is taken into account in every policy field. Suitable resources should be made available for meaningful youth participation in policy-making.
In the Declaration from the EU-Western Balkans Summit held on 6 October 2021 in Brdo, Slovenia, leaders from the EU and the Western Balkans launched a dedicated Agenda for the Western Balkans on Innovation, Research, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport - a comprehensive, long-term cooperation strategy that aims to "promote scientific excellence as well as reform of the region’s education systems, create further opportunities for the youth, and help prevent brain drain". ...
The EESC welcomes the proposal to designate 2022 as the European Year of Youth. Clear indicators need to be developed for the Year, which should focus on the impact on policies and cross-sectoral work beyond the activities organised. The EESC calls for a more ambitious budget, and emphasises the need to ensure that harder-to-reach groups are included in this Year. Welcoming the work that this Year envisages with regard to external relations, it points at the important role that the relatively well-developed youth policies in Europe can play in our neighbourhood and beyond. It points at the need for all institutions to further develop the voice of youth in their policy proposals.
The EESC welcomes the NRRPs as an unprecedented opportunity to drive change and trigger investments in sustainable growth and creation of quality jobs. It urges the Commission to put in place measures that guarantee structured involvement of the social partners, CSO and youth organisations in the implementation and monitoring of the NRRPs. It calls on the Member States to ensure quality and inclusive guidance and counselling for all young people in order to provide them with more information on their further education and, subsequently, on career possibilities in the context of the green and digital transition of the labour market. Close attention should be paid to the issue of mental health and psycho-social disorders, especially among young people, by reducing the stigma around mental health issues through prevention and awareness-raising work.
The EESC recommends, in order to achieve high-quality and inclusive education and training and lifelong learning for all, establishing achievable long-term goals and a constant monitoring system within the European Education Area (EEA) for each Member State. The teaching of key competences, including social sensitivity, empathy, intercultural dialogue and citizenship skills, should be applied across the whole education and training process. This opinion also points at the importance of taking a holistic approach to the implementation of recent EU initiatives on education, vocational education and training, skills, youth education and digital skills. The EESC calls on Member States to ensure effective support for those facing difficulties in accessing quality and inclusive adult education and training, via targeted funding for those in need, such as the unemployed, non-standard workers, the low-skilled and people with disabilities.
In this own-initiative opinion, the EESC calls on the European Union to develop a coherent and uniform approach to protecting unaccompanied foreign minors in Europe. It urges the European Commission to draw up a Directive on the protection of unaccompanied minors that serves the best interests of the child. The principle of "the best interests of the child" should take precedence over all other national and international law. The EESC calls on the Member States to evaluate minority based on a body of evidence, consisting principally of the declarations by the person in question, civil status documents presented and interviews with the person. Given that bone tests are not really reliable, the EESC calls for them to simply be stopped.
This opinion will look into the possibilities to engage with young people in a formal way at institutional level and provide the building blocks for a new structured approach to youth engagement at EU level.