Forty years on from the events of May 1968 is an appropriate moment for the Council of Europe to review the situation of young people in Europe, to take stock of the youth policies at European, national and regional levels and to reformulate its own agenda for the coming years.
Certain basic principles remain valid, such as emphasis on the participation of young people in political and institutional life and maintenance of the principle of co-management of the Council of Europe’s own youth activities.
New problems and challenges have emerged from the social and economic changes in Europe that need to be built into new youth policies. These changes affect the field of education (vocational qualifications and intercultural competencies) and social inclusion (risk of an economic underclass of young people). Immigration policy must also be very much aware of the specific problems of young people. Greater attention should be paid to gender equality.
The Assembly has been directly associated with co-operation with young people in Europe since the 1970s through the setting up of the European youth centres in Strasbourg and Budapest. It should review the means by which it might rejuvenate and continue this support. The reopening of the refurbished Strasbourg centre in June 2008 should provide an appropriate occasion for doing so.
The Assembly has also followed the development of intergovernmental activities by the Council of Europe in the youth sector. Its Recommendation 1585 (2002) on youth policies in the Council of Europe should also be reviewed and updated.
On both these fronts, the Assembly should make a contribution to the consultation process leading to the formulation of an “Agenda 2020 for Council of Europe youth policy”. This should be adopted by the Conference of European Ministers for Youth in Kyiv in October 2008 and implemented by the Committee of Ministers.