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    CM(2002)192 13 December 2002
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    824 Meeting, 15 January 2003
    8 Youth and Sport


    8.1 Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth

    Abridged report of the 6th Conference (Thessaloniki, 7-9 November 2002)


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    1. The 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth was held in Thessaloniki (Greece) from 7 to 9 November 2002 at the Greek Government's invitation. There were some 220 participants at the Conference, representing 44 Contracting Parties to the European Cultural Convention. The list of participants is available on the Internet site of Directorate General IV http://www.coe.int/T/E/cultural_co-operation/ (restricted access).

    2. 25 delegations were headed by persons of ministerial rank. National and European non-governmental youth organisations sent 61 participants.

    3. The title and general theme of the conference was "Youth constructing Europe". There were three sub-themes, each the subject of a round table:

    Round table I: The promotion of active citizenship, participation in society and pluralist democracy;

    Round table II: The promotion of social cohesion and democratic stability in South-East Europe;

    Round table III: The Prevention and the fight against violence in everyday life.

    4. At the opening session, Mrs Eleni KOURKOULA, Deputy Minister of Education of Greece, was elected Chair of the Conference. Mr Georgiu GINGĂRAŞ, the Romanian Minister of Youth and Sport, and Mr Attila MESTERHÁZY, the Hungarian State Secretary for Children, Youth and Sport, were elected Deputy Chairs.

    5. The Conference agenda was adopted as it appears in Appendix 1.

    6. The opening session was also addressed by Mrs Cristina AGUDO, Rapporteur for youth of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, Mr Guillaume LEGAUT, Chair of the Youth Advisory Council on Youth and Mr Joao VALE DE ALMEIDA, Director for Youth, Civil Society and Communication of the European Commission. The latter stressed the importance of co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union in the youth field.

    7. The opening session was followed by the award ceremony for the Council of Europe's 2002 "Young Active Citizens" Prize, which rewarded innovative projects based on young persons' participation in local and regional political life. The five winning projects were implemented by youth organisations or groups from Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Sweden and Turkey.

    8. At the first working session, the Council of Europe's Deputy Secretary General, Mrs Maud DE BOER-BUQUICCHIO, spoke of the relevance of each of the Conference sub-themes and the need to involve young people in the implementation of policies and activities in these areas. The Chair, Mrs KOURKOULA, described the Conference objectives and themes. In his report on the implementation of the conclusions of the last Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth (Bucharest, 27-29 April 1998), Mr Georgiu GINGĂRAŞ referred to the positive effects of the Budapest European Youth Centre's activities on extending European youth co-operation, the practical results of the 1998 reform of the youth sector and the progress made in co-operation with the European Union.

    9. Following the introduction of the themes of the round tables by their chairs, respectively:

    Round table I: Mr Attila MESTERHÁZY, State Secretary for Children, Youth and Sports, Hungary,
    Round table II: Ms Lucija ČOK, Minister of Education, Sciences and Sport, Slovenia;
    Round table III: Ms Concepción DANCAUSA TREVINO, Secretary General for Social Affairs - Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Spain,

    the ministers and/or heads of delegation of the following countries addressed the theme of the Conference : Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Georgia, Holy See, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

    Speakers referred to the following aspects of youth policies:

    - the need for developing intersectoral youth policies;
    - active youth citizenship in an increasingly multicultural society;
    - the need to promote ethical, social and human values among young people;
    - establishing structures for youth participation locally and nationally; young people' participation at school;
    - avoiding too many and over-rigid administrative constraints that discourage youth initiatives;
    - the impact of the European Commission White Paper: "a new impetus for European Youth" on youth policy development;
    - regional co-operation, the contribution of "small states" to European construction and the need for closer co-operation between these states;
    - the need for specific Action Plans for Youth in South-East Europe and countries suffering the effects of recent conflicts;
    - developing research in the youth field;
    - the need to develop new approaches for combating violence;

    The representative of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, Baron Berend VAN VOORST TOT VOORST, spoke about the importance of co-operation between the youth sector and the CLRAE.

    10. The afternoon of 8 November was devoted to the round tables, whose conclusions were presented at the plenary session on 9 November.

    11. In his contribution, the rapporteur for round table I, Mr George SAKELLION, Secretary General for Youth at the Greek Ministry of Education, spoke of the need to promote an intersectoral approach and encourage youth participation at all levels, particularly locally. Co-managed bodies such as municipal youth councils offered a relevant model. Participation was both a right and a democratic duty and political leaders and young people shared responsibility for promoting youth participation. Given the feeling of many young people that they were excluded from formal democratic processes, different ways had to be found of encouraging them to take a more active part in them. The rapporteur stressed the importance of providing young people with information and establishing dialogue and partnership between them and political institutions. The family and youth organisations had a leading role to play in teaching children and young persons about participation. He also raised the question of participation among disadvantaged young people and of equal opportunities between men and women. His conclusion was that young people must be involved in all decisions that concerned them, by encouraging all forms of participation and adopting a flexible approach.

    12. The rapporteur for round table II, Mr Rudy DEMOTTE, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of the French-Speaking Community of Belgium, underlined the relevance of the activities in South-East Europe implemented by various international institutions, including the Council of Europe, particularly under the auspices of the Stability Pact for South eastern Europe. Such activities had to promote reconciliation and intercultural exchanges, together with training programmes for youth leaders and social workers, and this type of work needed recognition. Progress had been made but they still lacked answers to such problems as trafficking in human beings, the brain drain and corruption, and he proposed several areas for development by the youth sector (information, creation of networks, surveys, intercultural dialogue, etc.). He also referred to the National Action Plans for Youth. Such plans were currently in operation or under preparation in Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. He concluded by stressing the need to respond to the aspirations of young persons in this region and other areas, such as the Caucasus, to contribute as from now to the building of Europe.

    13. The rapporteur for round table III, Ms Galina KUPRIYANOVA, Director of the Youth Policy Department of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, referred to the recommendations of the symposium at the Budapest Youth Centre in October 2002 on “Learning from violence”. She stressed the importance of the prevention of violence within the context of human rights, democracy and cultural diversity. The priority for the Council of Europe's youth sector was to concentrate on educational activities and to strengthen co-operation between formal and non-formal education. They needed to invest in research into the causes of violence and encourage young people and their organisations to be involved in formulating prevention policies and strategies at all levels. Intersectoral co-operation should encompass child, family, youth and social affairs policies, and relations between local authorities, schools and the youth sector. Finally, they should develop dialogue with the media with a view to “reducing” the promotion of violence, particularly among children and young persons.

    14. The final plenary session of the Conference adopted unanimously:

    - a political declaration;
    - a resolution on the priorities of the Council of Europe's youth sector for 2003-2005;
    - a resolution on the situation of young people in conflict areas.

    The aforementioned texts appear in Appendices 2, 3 and 4.

    15. In her closing address, the Conference Chair, Ms KOURKOULA, said that young people had to be helped to take responsibility for themselves and society. The Chair of the Ministers' Deputies, Mr Joseph LICARI, Permanent Representative of Malta to the Council of Europe, stressed that the youth sector had an important role in implementing the Council of Europe's objectives and that the sector's 2003-2005 priorities were consistent with those of the Council as a whole.

    16. Mr Attila MESTERHÁZY, the Hungarian State Secretary for Children, Youth and Sports, extended an invitation to hold the 7th Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth in Budapest in 2005,

    17. In accordance with the Council of Europe's co-management principle governing relations between governments and youth organisations, non-governmental youth organisations and networks had been actively involved in the preparation and organisation of the conference. It had been preceded by a youth event organised by the European Youth Forum, attended by more than one hundred persons from all over the continent, particularly south-east Europe. Twenty youth organisation representatives had played an active part in the Conference. Ms Sidonia JEDRZEJEWSKA, Deputy Chair of the Youth Forum, presented its conclusions at the first working session on 8 November.

    Appendix 1

    Agenda

    1. Opening of the Conference

    2. Election of the Chairperson and two Vice-Chairpersons

    3. Adoption of the agenda of the Conference

    4. Ceremony for the Council of Europe Award “Young active citizens”

    5. Visit of the exhibition organised in the framework of the youth event

    6. Introductory report to the Conference

    7. Presentation of the report on the implementation of the conclusions of the 5th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth (Bucharest, April 1998)

    8. Presentation of the themes of the round table

    9. Presentation of the results of the youth event

    10. General debate

    11. Round tables

    12. Presentation of the conclusions of the round tables, followed by discussion

    13. Presentation and adoption of the draft texts submitted to the Conference

    14. Closing session

    Appendix 2

    Final Declaration

    We, the Ministers responsible for Youth, meeting in Thessaloniki (Greece) from 7 to 9 November 2002, on the occasion of the 6th Council of Europe Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth;

    * Stressing the fundamental role of young people in the development of democratic and peaceful societies open to the world;

    * Underlining the specific action carried out by the Council of Europe in partnership with youth organisations, particularly with the European Youth Forum, during the last 30 years in order to promote active participation of young people as well as their contribution towards a more united society;

    * Concerned about the consequences of the increase in the number of terrorist attacks, having regard in particular to democratic stability, the freedom of persons, the defence of human rights and the fight against all forms of discrimination;

    * Aware that in Europe today some countries or regions are still subject to open conflicts, and concerned by the difficulties with which young people from these countries and regions are confronted;

    * Aware of the considerable differences with regard to the socio-economic situation of young people in the world, and aware that unequal opportunities between genders still exist;

    * Underlining that access to their fundamental rights, to education, the labour market, health care, culture, technological innovations and the possibility to enjoy decent living conditions, is a prerequisite for the active participation of young people in society;

    * Bearing in mind the work done following the five previous conferences of the Council of Europe, the United Nations First World Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth held in 1998 in Lisbon, the reference to youth in the Declaration of the European Council in Laeken in 2001, the publication of the White Paper of the European Commission “A new impetus for European youth” and the new co-operation in the youth field of the European Union;

    * Welcoming the recent development of a co-operative working culture between the Council of Europe, the European Commission, UNICEF, UNESCO and the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, in the youth field;

    Declare that:

    1. Violence, wars and terrorism are unacceptable in societies based on pluralist democracy and the respect for human rights. To this end, we call upon the international community and in particular the Council of Europe to make even stronger efforts to prepare young people to live an active democratic citizenship and to work against every extreme action or propaganda.

    Particular attention should be paid to recent, existing or latent conflict areas, in particular in South-East Europe and in the Caucasus;

    2. Youth policies need to be as comprehensive as possible, taking into account the overall needs of young people and recognising their diversity and their many facets and resources. In particular, youth policies should:

    2.1. Be anchored in universal values of pluralist democracy and human rights and pursue objectives such as justice, respect for identities, access to one’s own culture, equal opportunities, including therein men and women, and social cohesion;

    2.2. Have a cross-sectoral dimension as well as a local, regional and national dimension;

    2.3. Integrate the educational dimension in a long term perspective, taking into consideration young people’s aspirations; promote their access to autonomy as well as their sense of responsibility and commitment, through, notably, voluntary youth work;

    2.4. Facilitate active participation of young people in decisions which concern them, and encourage them to commit themselves in their community life;

    2.5. Facilitate the access of young people to the labour market, by means of appropriate projects and training schemes which are likely to increase their professional opportunities;

    2.6. Facilitate the access of young people, notably from disadvantaged groups, to information which concerns them, and in particular, to the new communication technologies;

    2.7. Promote youth mobility by reducing administrative and financial obstacles and encouraging the development of quality projects;

    2.8. Promote non-formal education/learning of young people as well as the development of appropriate forms of recognition of experiences and skills acquired notably within the framework of associations and other forms of voluntary involvement, at local, national and European levels;

    2.9. Promote co-operation between Child, Family and Youth policies;

    2. Despite the differences from country to country, certain general trends in the situation of young people can be identified:

    2.1. Young Europeans experience longer and more complex transitions to adult life. They stay longer in full-time education and training and they stay longer in their parental home;

    2.2. In many European countries, youth unemployment rates are higher than general unemployment rates and regional inequalities in this respect are still important. Young people are over-represented in marginal and precarious employment;

    2.3. Throughout Europe, young people’s economic reliance on families and social networks is growing. Inequalities of educational opportunity and outcome do not decrease;

    2.4. Insecurity as regards the challenges in contemporary society, in particular globalisation, the development of biotechnologies and the protection of environment is increasingly felt by young Europeans;

    In this context, however,

    2.5. A strong tendency towards freedom of cultural expression, creativity and individualism paves the way for young people today, who identify themselves as culture producers and carriers of innovation and of new forms of expression;

    2.6. Young people are highly positive towards democracy, although they are often critical towards the way institutions work;

    2.7. Civic engagement is the form of participation that attracts the widest support and participation of youth in Europe, although membership in associations varies widely from country to country;

    2.8. Although a minority of young Europeans display intolerant social and xenophobic attitudes, the great majority have open and positive attitudes towards cultural, ethnic and social diversity in Europe.

    3. The member States should take these trends into account in the elaboration and implementation of youth policies and secure the necessary conditions for young people and their organisations to be full partners of these policies;

    4. In order to create synergies between youth policies of the different Council of Europe’s member States, it is indispensable to develop closer co-operation between the Council of Europe and the European Union by establishing partnership agreements;

    5. The Council of Europe’s youth sector for its part should continue and intensify its efforts in order to better target its programme and working methods, in the spirit of innovation and experimentation which has inspired its work during 30 years. In this respect, we recommend to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe:

    5.1. To revise Resolution (98) 6 on the Council of Europe’s youth policy, taking into consideration the Recommendation 1585 (2002) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the activities of the Council of Europe in the youth field, the present Declaration as well as the resolutions adopted during this Conference, on the priorities of the youth sector for the next three years and on the situation of young people in conflict areas;

    5.2. To envisage the reinforcement of the means of action of the European Youth Foundation, with a view to enlarging its programme to a greater number of young people and organisations in Europe and to responding to the significant increase in the number of applications for funding projects;

    5.3. To support the work of the European Youth Centres of Strasbourg and Budapest, and the development of appropriate forms of co-operation between existing youth centres in the member States, that are likely to contribute to the implementation of the objectives and priorities of the Council of Europe’s youth policy;

    5.4. To encourage the development of national youth policies based on general common principles and involving young people and their organisations as much as possible in the elaboration and implementation of these policies;

    5.5. To ensure that the youth dimension is better taken into consideration within the overall activities of the Council of Europe, thus giving the reform of the youth sector adopted in 1998 a concrete reality.

    Appendix 3

    Resolution on the priorities of the Council of Europe’s youth sector for 2003-2005

    Having regard to Resolution (98) 6 of the Committee of Ministers on the Youth Policy of the Council of Europe, and of the conclusions of the 5th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth, held in Bucharest from 27 to 29 April 1998;

    Taking into account the developments since the Bucharest Conference, and the new challenges that Europe and young people in particular have to meet;

    Bearing in mind the Vilnius Declaration on regional co-operation and the consolidation of democratic stability in the greater Europe, adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 3 May 2002, at its 110th session;

    Bearing in mind the importance the Council of Europe attaches to partnership between governments and youth organisations and networks in drawing up and implementing its youth policy;

    Bearing in mind the objectives of the Council of Europe’s youth sector, namely:

    - to help young people to find ways of meeting both the challenges facing them and their own aspirations;

    - to encourage young people to be actors in the process of bringing about a closer European unity based on the principles and values of pluralist democracy, human rights and the rule of law;

    - to empower young people, through non-formal education/learning and participation methods, to play an active role in the strengthening of civil society in Europe;

    - to promote and support the development of youth policies in Europe;

    We, European Ministers responsible for youth, meeting in Thessaloniki from 7 to 9 November 2002, declare that the following should be regarded as priority fields of the youth sector for the next three years:

    1. The promotion of intercultural dialogue and peace, with special emphasis on:

    - the promotion of mediation, peace-building and conflict resolution;
    - intercultural dialogue and the dialogue between civilisations;
    - training and capacity-building of European youth organisations, based on the intercultural learning methodology;

    2. Human rights education and the promotion of human dignity, and social cohesion, with special emphasis on:

    - the fight against racism, intolerance and all forms of discrimination;
    - the development of social cohesion;
    - the fight against social exclusion of young people;
    - the fight against violence in everyday life.

    3. Participation and democratic citizenship, with special emphasis on:

    - the training of young democratic leaders, and multipliers;
    - the support to and the development of non-governmental democratic youth organisations and networks;
    - the participation and access of young people, in particular disadvantaged and minority groups, in democratic institutions and processes;

    - the reduction of barriers to youth participation, at local, regional, national and European levels;
    - the establishment and proper functioning of non-governmental democratic representative youth bodies, at local, regional and national levels.

    The overall programme of the youth sector should be implemented taking into consideration the following two strategic priorities, which constitute the common ground of the Council of Europe’s action in the youth field:

    1. Support to the setting-up and development of appropriate youth policies, concentrating in particular on:

    - a comparative analysis of national youth policies, including the development of tools and evaluation criteria at national level;
    - support to the development of national youth policies, notably in the new member States of the Council of Europe;
    - the elaboration of national strategies for youth, and appropriate legislation;
    - relations between youth policies and childhood policies;
    - policies for vulnerable young people;
    - the recognition of non-formal education/learning and its complementarity with formal education;
    - information and advice to young people;
    - the contribution of young people to social and cultural innovation;
    - environmental education;
    - the promotion of partnership between governments and youth organisations for the definition, implementation and evaluation of youth policies.

    2. Taking into consideration, to a greater extent, the youth dimension in other activity sectors of the Council of Europe;

    this action implies in particular:

    - the participation of representatives of the statutory bodies of the youth sector in a number of steering committees and other working structures of the Council of Europe;
    - the consultation of the Advisory Council by the Committee of Ministers or by subordinated intergovernmental committees, regarding legal texts which have a specific impact on young people;
    - the convening of regular meetings of the Co-ordination Group of the Secretary General on youth questions;
    - the active participation of the youth sector in the integrated and multidisciplinary programmes of the Council of Europe.

    In implementing its priorities, the youth sector should also strengthen its co-operation with other international organisations (e.g. UNESCO, UNICEF) and, in particular, with the European Union, through agreements. Such co-operation should focus on training of youth leaders and youth workers, research in the youth field and information and documentation.

    Appendix 4

    Resolution on the situation of young people in conflict areas

    At the beginning of the 21st century, it must be acknowledged that Europe is confronted with multiple situations of instability associated with open or latent conflicts. Today in Europe, there are ex-servicemen who are not yet thirty years old, young people who cannot leave their enclaves and children who were expelled from their homelands.

    Young people in Europe who are confronted with such situations naturally desire ‘a normal life’ and try to fulfill their dreams and this, often in a hostile environment, in destroyed towns and within societies that must learn reconciliation. Many of them, as for a large number of citizens, are confronted on an almost daily basis, with precarious situations, xenophobia, racism, discrimination, authoritarianism and corruption. As a result of this situation, many young people try to leave their country. This threatens the economic, social and cultural development of these areas.

    In this unstable context, where the future is often a question of whether one should stay or leave, there are, all the same, many young people who believe that through their action and their voluntary commitment, they can change things.

    The willingness of many young people in these areas to improve their future is a message of hope, the underlying meaning of which is fully recognised within the theme of the 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth: ‘Youth constructing Europe’. These young people should be encouraged other than by mere talk.

    Thus, we, European Ministers meeting in Thessaloniki for the 6th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth of the Council of Europe,

    Bearing in mind the conflict, war or post-war situation which certain European societies have suffered recently and still suffer, and the economic, social and cultural consequences for all those who live there, in particular young people;

    Taking the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocol as a basis for ensuring that children do not take part in armed conflicts;

    Underlining in this respect the hopes of young people to live in peace in a society founded on the values of respect, tolerance and social cohesion;

    Welcoming the action undertaken by the youth sector of the Council of Europe over the last years in South-East Europe and the Caucasus, aiming to support pluralist democracy, the development of intercultural dialogue and social cohesion, the promotion of human dignity and of human rights;

    Agree that the Council of Europe should, in the future:

    Encourage the establishment of specific measures aiming to break down isolation of young people living in conflict areas, to enable them to participate in European programmes and to carry out projects in these areas;

    Continue its support to initiatives of young people and youth organisations in the areas concerned, aiming to promote intercultural dialogue, notably through the training programmes of the European Youth Centres, pilot projects of the European Youth Foundation and assistance programmes of the Council of Europe’s youth sector;

    Reinforce the Council of Europe’s training programme for young democratic leaders (the ‘democratic leadership programme’) in order to enable them to work towards an open and transparent management of political commitment;

    Continue the specific assistance programmes in the field allowing, in particular, the exchange of experiences and of good practices in the administrative and legal domains as well as in the areas of youth information and cooperation between the governmental and non-governmental sectors;

    Continue the implementation of the existing instruments of the Council of Europe, in particular the Charter on the participation of young people in municipal and regional life, Recommendation N° R (94) 4 of the Committee of Ministers on the promotion of a voluntary service in Europe and Recommendation N° R (95) 18 on youth mobility;

    Encourage governments to continue the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe and support the action of the youth sector within this structure, in order to co-ordinate initiatives led by the different actors present in this area in favour of young people;

    Encourage initiatives and programmes aiming to facilitate the return and the resettlement of internally displaced persons and refugees, in particular young people, in their country or place of residence.



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