On 3-4 May, EUROCITIES took part in the European Commission’s conference on the future EU Youth Strategy and its priorities. This conference gathered over 200 participants and took place during the European Youth Week. During the week of 1-7 May, hundreds of events took place across Europe to inform young people about the opportunities offered to them to learn and volunteer abroad through EU programmes such as Erasmus+ and the newly launched European Solidarity Corps.
Speaking at the conference in Brussels, Bianca Faragau, policy advisor for EUROCITIES, highlighted the need for a stronger role for cities in the next EU Youth Strategy, in the presence of Commissioner Navracsics, Chair of the CULT committee in the European Parliament, Petra Kammerevert, and Miriam Teuma, from the Maltese Presidency.
In the opening panel debate, Commissioner Navracsics said: "Cities are crucial for youth policy. There is a lot to learn from local practices to inspire EU policies to improve young people’s lives. Everything that is important is happening at local level […] There is no hierarchy between European, national and local levels. We need to be partners in the implementation to make this [EU Youth Strategy] a success. We must jointly identify the common objectives, explore synergies to mobilise member states and local communities."
Luis Alvarado, President of the European Youth Forum, asked the Commission: "why doesn’t the youth policy connect to already existing tools for cities like the Urban Agenda for the EU?"
Throughout the conference, youth representatives and policy-makers emphasised the need to bridge the EU policy level and local implementation level, to make youth policy more real and relevant for young people. This echoes the view of EUROCITIES that cities should be more strongly involved in EU youth policy.
Funding issues were also heavily debated in a dedicated workshop, which EUROCITIES reported on its results in plenary. The key messages on funding were:
- The next EU Youth Strategy and Erasmus+ programme should be better aligned in timeframe and in priorities;
- Funding youth policy should go beyond Erasmus+ to combine different EU funding sources (ESF, FEAD, Horizon 2020) that should be easily accessible for cities and local NGOs;
- Coordination of policies and funding sources at different levels is key and should take a multi-level governance approach, including cities as key players.
Building on the conference’s results, the European Commission will prepare a proposal for a post-2018 EU Youth Strategy. EUROCITIES is actively involved in the process to secure a strong role for cities in this future strategy and sufficient funding for local implementation.