SD underpins the process of dialogue between young Europeans and EU policymakers.
SD provides a platform where young people and youth organisations – the European Youth Forum and national youth councils – meet with representatives of national youth authorities to discuss the priorities and the implementation of EU youth policy. In short, SD provides the medium for youth representatives to influence the EU youth strategy.
Since its launch in 2010, youth representatives and policymakers have engaged in serious and detailed debates on the themes of “youth employment” and “youth participation”, leading to a series of important political Resolutions and Conclusions subsequently adopted by the Youth Ministers of the EU. SD is now in its third cycle, devoted to “social inclusion”, and will conclude during the Greek presidency in the first half of 2014.
The European Commission launched a review of the SD process, started with a three-day meeting (27-29 May) during European Youth Week 2013 when representatives of the National Working Groups, who manage and conduct national consultations of young people as an integral part of the process, exchanged experience in managing SD at the national level.
“How can the outreach of SD be enlarged to include an increasing number of young people?”
“How can the visibility of SD be improved?”
“How can SD benefit from new online functionalities being developed by the European Commission?”
“How can the follow-up to the outcomes of SD be better monitored at both national and European level?”
These and other issues were debated over the three-day session, allowing representatives of all National Working Groups to form opinions for a fuller dialogue with policymakers at the end of 2013. The conclusions took then the form of joint recommendations to be submitted to Youth Ministers for approval and implementation in early-2014.
The ‘Structured Dialogue’ conference during European Youth Week 2013 was a key step in the enhancement of the SD process. Its aim? To ensure that young Europeans and their organisations have a direct role in shaping and adopting those policies that directly affect them.
How does SD work?
Structured dialogue operates in 18-month cycles, each one spanning three six-month presidencies, with the three presidency countries involved choosing an overall agenda and zeroing in on a specific focus. The overall thematic priority and individual presidency priorities are subsequently endorsed by the Council of Youth Ministers.
The momentum of each cycle is sustained by three EU youth conferences. The conclusions resulting from the dialogue at such conferences feed into a Council Resolution/Conclusions to be adopted by all EU Member States in the Council of Youth Ministers. This shows the direct impact of the SD process in ensuring practical results and better policies for young people.
Before each youth conference, National Working Groups conduct consultations in their countries with the aid of ‘Guiding Questions’, based on the thematic priorities set by Member State Youth Ministers: the current cycle is devoted to social inclusion. The outcomes of these national consultations then serve as the background briefing for subsequent debates with policymakers during the ensuing EU Youth Conferences.
The whole process is coordinated by a European Steering Committee composed of the Trio Presidency countries’ youth affairs ministries, national agencies and the European Commission, together with the European Youth Forum which is a network of national Youth Councils and NGOs that bring together tens of millions of people from all over Europe.
It is the European Youth Forum that chairs this Committee, so the process is very much led by youth!
In short, the SD process ensures that the voices of Europe’s younger generations are both heard – and heeded!
Click here to find out more about the Brussels programme.