6 Youth participation and information
+ ADD 1
Commission Communication on European policies on youth participation and information Follow-up to the White Paper on a New Impetus for European Youth: Implementing the common objectives for participation by and information for young people in view of promoting their active European citizenship
Commission staff working document: Analysis of reports by Member States
Draft Resolution of the Council and the representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on implementing the common objectives for participation by and information for young people in view of promoting their active European citizenship
|(a) 20 July 2006
|Deposited in Parliament
|(a) 27 July 2006
(b) 1 September 2006
|Education and Skills
|Basis of consideration
|EM of 31 August 2006
|Previous Committee Report
|To be discussed in Council
|Legally and politically important
|Not cleared; further information requested
6.1 In 2001, the Commission published a White Paper on A New
Impetus for European Youth. It proposed a framework for co-operation
in the youth field.
6.2 In 2002, the Council adopted a Resolution approving
the framework and calling for the "open method of coordination"
to be applied to four priorities:
- participation by young people
in democratic life;
- information for young people;
- voluntary activities by young people; and
- greater understanding and knowledge of youth.
6.3 In 2003, the Council approved the Commission's
proposals for common objectives for the first two of the priorities:
participation and information.
6.4 In November 2004, the Council approved common
objectives for the remaining two priorities: voluntary activities
by young people and greater understanding and knowledge of youth.
6.5 Article 149 of the Treaty establishing the European
Community (the EC Treaty) provides that the Community is to contribute
to the development of "quality education" by encouraging
co-operation between Member States and, if necessary, by supplementing
and supporting their action. The EC Treaty provides no other legal
base for Community action in the youth field, but there is a youth
dimension to other matters, such as employment and social cohesion,
for which there are legal bases.
Document (a) the Commission's Communication
6.6 Member States have agreed to provide the Commission
with national reports on the implementation of the four common
objectives. This Communication is based on the reports the Member
Sates made at the end of 2005 and the first part of this year
on the implementation of the information and participation objectives.
The Commision comments on what Member States have done, notes
the obstacles they have encountered in implementing the objectives
and draws some conclusions.
6.7 The common objective for information includes
- develop information services
which take account of the specific needs of young people;
- facilitate equal access to the information by
all young people, avoiding any discrimination or exclusion;
- develop national, regional and local youth portals
linked to the European Youth Portal;
- monitor the quality of the information disseminated
to young people;
- improve the education and training of people
who work in youth information services;
- improve the link between information and counselling;
- promote the involvement of youth organisations,
youth workers and young people in the preparation of information;
- encourage young people to take a greater part
in the dissemination of information.
The Commission staff working document (ADD 1) summarises
what the Member States' reports say under each of these headings.
6.8 The Commission comments that:
- there are wide differences
in the way Member States have approached the implementation of
the information objective;
- the Internet appears to be the main means to
- there are national youth "portals"
(websites) in 19 Member States, containing information on education,
training, employment, housing, health, mobility and so on, and
with a link to the European Youth Portal;
- only about 12 Member States of which
the UK is one have "an information strategy addressing
all questions of interest to young people and integrating the
local, regional, national and European levels";
- networking is seen as essential to improve the
skills and qualifications of youth information workers;
- virtually no action has been taken to involve
young people and youth organisations in the preparation and dissemination
- the main obstacles to implementation of the information
objective have been: the difficulty some Member States have found
in defining the starting point from which progress should be assessed;
the difficulty of improving coordination between the authorities
and organisations with responsibilities for young people; and
lack of resources; and
- Member States did not consult young people and
youth organisations in a systematic way.
6.9 The common objective for participation includes
- increase young people's participation
in civic life through, for example, getting involved on NGOs,
voluntary work, and youth councils;
- remove obstacles to participation by disadvantaged
- develop and encourage regular discussion between
young people and national, regional and local authorities;
- remove obstacles to participation in representative
democracy by disadvantaged young people;
- develop education about and training for participation
in civic life and representative democracy; and
- raise awareness of the benefits of involving
6.10 Again, the Commission staff working document
(ADD 1) summarises what the national reports say about the action
Member States have taken to implement the participation objective.
6.11 The Commission notes that some Member States
have introduced statutory requirements for consulting young people,
while others have developed national plans for youth participation
and most have established national youth councils. It also notes
that one of the main obstacles to implementation of the objective
is that young people's interest in politics and trade unions has
6.12 The Communication says that:
"On the basis of this analysis [of the national
reports], the Commission proposes to confirm the relevance and
validity of the common objectives for participation and information
and to slightly adapt and improve the adopted lines of action."
6.13 Most of the proposals are minor but we draw
particular attention to the Commission's proposal that action
is required "to ensure increased participation of young people
in the institutions of representative democracy, such as promoting
their involvement in political parties, encouraging the inclusion
of young people on party lists and improving their position on
6.14 In the penultimate paragraph of the Communication,
the Commission invites the Council to agree that:
- by the end of 2006, each Member
State should identify and draw up action plans for the aspects
of participation and information on which it wishes to concentrate;
- "Member States [should] set up a follow
up mechanism involving young people and their organisations and
prepare an evaluation report by the end of 2008";
- "Member States [should] be given the opportunity
to take part, on a voluntary basis, in pilot 'peer reviews' organised
by the Commission, on information and participation";
- "Member States [should] promote the common
objectives at national level amongst regional and local authorities,
youth organisations and young people in general".
Document (b) the draft Resolution
6.15 The Finnish Presidency has prepared this draft
Resolution for adoption not only by the Council but also by the
representatives of the Governments of the Member States. The draft
appears to be based on the Commission's Communication on the implementation
of the information and participation objectives (document (a)).
6.16 The Finnish Presidency proposes that the Resolution
- "Emphasise" some
points (for example, that the common priorities have provided
an impetus for national policies and remain essential for promoting
active citizenship among young people).
- "Agree" some other points. For example,
Member States are invited to agree that the action approved in
2003 for the implementation of the common objectives on information
and participation should be modified in the way set out in the
Annex to the Resolution. The modifications reflect the Commission's
proposals in document (a). The changes are minor, except for the
proposal that measures should be developed to promote the involvement
of young people in political parties.
- "Invite" the Member States to take
the action proposed by the Commision in the penultimate paragraph
of document (a), such as identifying and drawing up an action
plan on the matters on which the Member State intends to concentrate.
- "Note" the action the Commission intends
to take, such as organising a regular European Youth Week, in
which Commissioners and representatives of the other EC institutions
would take part, preceded by consultations through the European
- "Invite" the Member States and the
Commission to take further action as proposed by the Commission
in document (a): for example, to ensure that the open method of
consultation on participation and information is open and transparent
and to organise peer reviews on information and participation.
The Government's view on documents (a) and (b)
6.17 The Minister of State for Higher Education and
Lifelong Learning at the Department of Education and Skills (Bill
Rammell) makes no comment on the Commission's Communication
but does tell us the Government's views on the draft Resolution,
which is based on the proposals in the Communication.
6.18 The Minister says that the Government has no
difficulty with the general policy thrust of the draft Resolution
but is concerned about two points:
- First, the draft includes calls
for action not covered by Article 149 of the EC Treaty. For example,
the draft Resolution proposes that Member States should "take
active measures to ensure the increased participation of young
people in the institutions of representative democracy, such as
promoting their involvement in political parties".
The Minister says that the Government will seek, throughout the
negotiations, to ensure that existing Treaty competences are respected.
- Second, the draft Resolution invites Member States,
by the end of 2008, to evaluate and report on the action they
have taken to implement the information and participation objectives.
The Government will suggest that there should not be a separate
report in 2008 but, instead, the evaluation should be included
in the more general report due in 2009.
6.19 Finally, the Minister tells us that the negotiations
began in September with a view to presenting Ministers with a
final text for approval in November.
6.20 We recognise the importance of making readily
available the information that young people need about, for example,
employment, health and their rights and obligations. We also recognise
the importance of encouraging them to take part in the democratic
life of their communities, nationally, regionally and locally.
So we can see no objection in principle to co-operation between
Member States to promote the provision of information and participation
by young people.
6.21 Indeed, economic and social cohesion are
among the Community objectives specified in the EC Treaty and
we accept that some of action for which the draft Resolution calls
might contribute to the economic and social inclusion of young
people. But we share the Minister's view that Article 149 of the
EC Treaty does not provide a legal base for the proposal that
Member States should encourage the inclusion of young people on
party lists; and, so far as we are aware, no other provision of
the Treaty provides a legal base for the proposal. Moreover, we
doubt the appropriateness of the proposal because, in our view,
it is for each political party to decide for itself whether and
how to involve young people in its activities and governments
should not intervene in the matter.
6.22 Accordingly, we hope that the Government
will press vigorously for the removal from the Resolution of the
proposal about political parties and for the exclusion of anything
else for which there is not a legal base in the EC Treaty.
6.23 We ask the Minister to give us progress reports
on the negotiations. Meanwhile, we shall keep documents (a) and
(b) under scrutiny.
10 Conclusion 37 of the Lisbon European Council on
23/24 March 2000 described the open method of coordination as
a means to help Member States progressively develop their own
policies by fixing guidelines for the Union with specific timetables
for achieving goals; establishing quantitative indicators and
benchmarks as a way of comparing best practice; translating the
European guidelines into national and regional policies by setting
specific targets; and periodic monitoring, evaluation and peer
(24446) 8489/03 and (24448) 8490/03: See HC 63-xxix (2002-03),
para 13 (10 July 2003). Back
(26017) 12563/04 and (26018) 12564/04: See HC 42-xxxv(2003-04),
para 7 (3 November 2004). Back
Commission Communication, page 4, paragraph 2.1.1. Back
Commission Communication, page 10. Back
Commission Communication, page 11. Back
Annex to the draft Resolution, page 10, paragraph 2(k). Back