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The European Committee of the Regions and the European Youth Forum join forces to boost youth participation  

The newly launched Charter on Youth and Democracy developed together with young people and youth organisations presents 49 recommendations for European, national and sub-national levels.

Stepping up citizenship education, lowering the voting age and supporting young people to stand as candidates in elections, establishing permanent consultation mechanisms with youth, putting new legislation to a youth test, reinforcing EU youth programmes; these are some of the recommendations in the Charter on Youth and Democracy. Supported by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Youth Forum, the Charter was co-created in a bottom-up process with representatives from youth organisations and young elected local and regional representatives across the EU and signed at the CoR plenary session on 1 December during a debate on youth and the future of Europe.

The Charter puts forward 49 recommendations aimed at facilitating and enhancing the democratic participation of young people at local, regional, national and European levels. The aim is to build and consolidate a youth friendly democratic space to ensure that the voices of young people are formally, continuously and permanently represented in the European Union. The Charter was signed during the debate marking the ending of the European Year of Youth 2022, which included an exchange with Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission for Promoting our European Way of Life, representatives of youth sections of the European political parties and members of the CoR Young Elected Politicians programme. It also featured success stories from the European Youth Capitals 2023 and 2024, Lublin (Poland) and Ghent (Belgium), while celebrating the 2025 title just awarded to Lviv (Ukraine).

Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the European Committee of the Regions and Member of the Azores Regional Parliament, said: "The Charter on Youth and Democracy, formally endorsed by the European Committee of the Regions today, is the result of a co-creation process bringing together young people, youth associations, young local politicians as well as local and regional representatives. This Charter is a guide for us, but also for all public authorities at local, regional, national and European levels, to continue working with young people for more participation, more empowerment and, most of all, ensuring their political, social and economic rights, for making our societies and territories better for the future."

Silja Markkula, President of the European Youth Forum, said: “The Charter on Youth and Democracy deepens the cooperation between local and regional authorities and the young people they represent. We need more and better democratic spaces, where young people feel safe to engage in community-building and in democracy, both online and offline. I am proud of the charter we are signing today, to which various youth organisations contributed. This is a blueprint not just for meaningful youth engagement at a local, national and European level. It is also an example of how young people and European institutions can work together to elevate youth representatives and their contributions."

Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission, said: "The European Year of Youth 2022 has led to key achievements. The outreach via engagement and awareness raising activities is currently more than 150 million Europeans, with more than 7700 activities mapped on the European Youth Portal. The upcoming European Year of Skills will be able to build on the successes of the 2022 European Year of Youth, which sought to empower, honour, support and engage with young people, including those with fewer opportunities."

As part of the debate, the CoR members adopted their recommendations for the Future of EU youth policy with an opinion which calls for new and holistic reflection on youth policy, mainstreaming of the youth perspective across policy fields and an active participation of youth in building the future of Europe. Rapporteur Tine Radinja (SI/Greens), Mayor of Škofja Loka, said: " The opinion on the Future of EU Youth Policy is the CoR's contribution to the policy legacy of the European Year of Youth. With the opinion we advocate for a cross-cutting and comprehensive approach to the youth field and address the numerous policy fields important to young people, from education and employment to housing and social security as well as the green and digital transitions. We call for including youth perspectives across all policy fields, as a strong legacy for the Year."

The co-creation process of the Charter on Youth and Democracy was launched in March 2022 at the 9th Summit of Regions and Cities in Marseille by the previous CoR President, current First Vice-President Apostolos Tzitzikostas, who said: "In order to empower young people to resolve current or future crisis, they must be involved as soon as possible in the governance of a globalised world. Youth involvement must be guaranteed through concrete acts: the right to vote at the age of 16 in the European elections and to put forward citizens' initiatives, as well as by promoting referenda."

The drafting of the Charter also closely involved the CoR's SEDEC Commission , chaired by Tanya Hristova (BG/EPP), and CIVEX Commission , chaired by Enzo Bianco (IT/PES).

More information:

The Charter on Youth and Democracy puts forward recommendations to local, regional, national and European levels, focusing on: education, cooperation, and information; youth empowerment, leadership, and democratic participation; the role of new technologies and digitalisation; and youth mainstreaming of policies and political representation. The proposals were collected through a participatory bottom-up process including in-physical presence and online consultations, dedicated social media activities and local events.

Recording of the debate will be available on EBS and on the CoR website. High-resolution photos from the CoR plenary session are also available.

Contact:

Monica Tiberi

Spokesperson of President Cordeiro

Tel. +32 479 51 74 43

monica.tiberi@cor.europa.eu

Lauri Ouvinen

CoR press officer

Tel. +32 473 53 68 87

lauri.ouvinen@cor.europa.eu

Rafael Shilhav

European Youth Forum – Director of Communications and External Relations

Tel. +32 490 11 36 76

rafael.shilhav@youthforum.org


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