Europe's regions and cities have welcomed the proposal to designate 2022 as the European Year of Youth. The resolution adopted today by the European Committee of the Regions' plenary session underlines the key role of local and regional authorities in promoting youth participation in local democracy and urges to mainstream a youth perspective in all EU policy areas. Bearing in mind the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on young people and their education, employment, income and mental health, the Committee calls to strengthen efforts to tackle youth unemployment and precarious working conditions and to improve access to housing, education and training.
The Committee also stresses in its resolution that local and regional authorities should have access to funding opportunities for projects aimed at supporting local youth initiatives throughout 2022 and beyond. Moreover, the European Commission's budget allocation to the European Year of Youth 2022 should include a substantial commitment from EU programmes outside Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps, without compromising the delivery of existing projects. What is more, the Committee considers that the European Year should provide momentum to strengthen intergenerational solidarity for greater social, economic and territorial cohesion and more inclusive societies.
Vasco Alves Cordeiro, First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and Member of the Azores Regional Parliament, said: "In today's challenging world, and to build back better after the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital to consider the youth perspective in all our policies and measures at EU, national, regional and local levels, especially in employment and education. The Conference on the Future of Europe is an opportunity to work together with the young generation, because they are the Future of Europe. To ensure a long-lasting legacy of the European Year of Youth, we need to mainstream a youth perspective in all policy areas and involve more young people in decision-making at all levels."
Silja Markkula, President of the European Youth Forum, said: "I would like to thank the European Committee of the Regions for carefully considering the Commission’s Year of Youth proposal and setting out its reflections and priorities in the resolution adopted today. The European Youth Forum is particularly happy with the emphasis placed on the importance of inclusion and mainstreaming the European Year of Youth across the entire European Union and not limiting the year and its funding to only the two EU youth programmes. Young people from all walks of life must be heard on employment, banning unpaid internships, the climate crisis and more at all levels. We are looking forward to continuing to work closely together with the European Committee of the Regions, in particular to ensure that a strong local perspective is brought to and championed during the European Year."
Mayor of Klaipeda Vytautas Grubliauskas (LT/Renew Europe) explained that the active participation of young people has been a key element of the Lithuanian city's year as the European Youth Capital 2021: "Over the entire year young people of the city have been the creators and implementers of new youth initiatives, decision-makers for social, civil, cultural projects and the main driving force of the project. The city has given young people the opportunity to be a part of changes implemented in the city, to take an active part in city life, to have more power in shaping youth policy, to act and create together with the youth of Europe, to represent the city in an international context, thus strengthening the identity of the European youth."
During the debate, members of the CoR's Young Elected Politicians programme also presented their recommendations in view of the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe and the European Year of Youth. These include proposals to tackle youth unemployment and to improve young people's participation in democratic life. The Young Elected Politicians programme includes politicians under 40 elected at local and regional level.
Representing the CoR's group of young politicians, City councillor of Cologne Sandra Schneeloch said: "Experience is not only measured in years, but also in the knowledge that you are able to acquire. The Young Elected Politicians have major insights into the challenges and needs of the citizens in their communities and should be heard by the CoR and the European Parliament."
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