300 young leaders, youth workers and youth policy makers from the EU member states and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine worked together over two days at the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Youth Forum in Warsaw from 22-23 June 2017.
Commissioner Hahn and Director General Reicherts addressed both the plenary and a group of Erasmus+ alumni, Erasmus+ students from Partner Countries studying in Warsaw and winners of the essay competition #EUaroundU. Both underlined the importance of youth as actors of change and the need to have a greater engagement with young people when designing youth policies and actions.
The main thematic focus was on participation and active citizenship of young people and their involvement in the decision making process. At the Forum's workshops, the young activists developed concrete recommendations to the EU, its Member States and EaP Partner governments to help shape their future youth policies. The proposals will also inform the debate at the upcoming EaP Summit in Brussels on 24 November 2017.
The recommendations were developed around three main areas: 1) young people as active, critical and responsible citizens; 2) young people and entrepreneurship and 3) good quality education.
Under the first area, young people asked for the development of a youth-friendly approach to policy making, by: establishing a supportive environment for youth-led organisations and prioritising youth projects when allocating EU funds. They called for the European Solidarity Corps to be opened up for the EaP youth and for the establishment of the online alumni database of international volunteers.
Increased support to social entrepreneurship programmes was the central discussion point under the second area. The participants of the forum called for an international social entrepreneurship investment fund and stressed the need for more support systems for social enterprises. They invited the governments to provide incentives for young people to set up their own enterprises, reduce taxation, eliminate red tape and provide funding at a professional level for young entrepreneurs.
With regards the third area, young leaders asked policy makers to pay more attention to skills required to succeed in the modern labour market. Participants called for the establishment of a proper dialogue between relevant NGOs, schools, policy makers, experts of formal and non-formal education, in order to review the existing national education curricula, make improvements where necessary and create synergies between formal and non-formal education actors.