Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs today joins Androulla Vassiliou, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, at the opening of a major EU Youth Conference in Dublin
The conference is the highlight of Ireland’s EU Youth Presidency Programme and marks the culmination of consultations with 11,000 young people across 27 EU member states. 150 young people from 27 EU Member States are joining Minister Frances Fitzgerald and EU Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou at the conference in Royal Hospital Kilmainham. A key focus will be on unemployment which has emerged as the biggest challenge to the social inclusion of young people.
Commenting on the findings of this EU-wide consultation, Minister Fitzgerald said:
“Europe’s young people have told us that unemployment is one of their biggest concerns and represents the greatest challenge to young people’s social inclusion throughout the EU. This justifies Ireland’s decision to prioritise youth employment during our EU Presidency; and as President of the EU Council of Youth Ministers I have put youth employment at the top of our Council’s agenda.”
Minister Fitzgerald commented:
“Young people identified the transition from education to employment as the time they are most vulnerable to social exclusion. Better facilitating this transition is critical to young people becoming independent and active in economic and community life. This requires the provision of effective training and activation measures and during Ireland’s EU Presidency I have strongly championed the role of youth organisations and youth work services in contributing to this task.
Minister Fitzgerald - “This conference is highly significant and will discuss the findings of consultations held with over 11,000 young people across Europe. At the Conference, some 150 young people and 100 key policy-makers from all 27 EU member-states will discuss and agree conference outcomes and conclusions.”
“As President of the EU Council of Youth Ministers, I will present these conclusions for adoption by the Council of Ministers in Brussels in May 2013 and the findings will feed into policy-development by the Council.”
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "Young people have borne the brunt of the current crisis - and an alarmingly high number of them are facing social exclusion. We cannot afford a lost generation: we need to give them hope and ensure that inclusion brings tangible results. That means we have to make the most of our funding opportunities and do more to promote active participation in civil society and civic life. My message to the EU Youth Conference is that the European Commission is 100% committed to working with youth organisations to address social exclusion."
Peter Matjašič, President of the European Youth Forum said:
"We cannot tolerate young people's social exclusion. To overcome it, we need real investment in young people, both financial and political: an investment in their education, to support their autonomy, to allow them find their way to the labour market and quality jobs, and to ensure that they are not submitted to any kind of discrimination. The Youth Guarantee is a first step in that direction, but more needs to be done. The Youth Forum and its members are ready to play their part. Now it is time for the EU and its Member States to make youth a priority!"
Mary Cunningham, Director, National Youth Council of Ireland, said:
“As Ireland has one of the highest youth populations in Europe, we are delighted to bring so many young people from all over the EU here to ensure they have the opportunity to influence decisions affecting young people at both a national and European level. Almost 400,000, or 40% of all young people in Ireland, are involved in youth work, and with similar levels of participation across the EU it is clear that the youth work sector is well placed to have a decisive role in addressing the issues around social inclusion, employment and participation which have been raised by the young people representing their countries at this conference today.”
Read: The 'Young Voices - Have your say' Irish consultation/structured dialogue report
Watch: A video on the Irish consultation process.
Other major youth events during the Irish Presidency include:
Council of Youth Ministers’ meeting, 16 May 2013, Brussels
The Council of Youth Ministers’ meeting will involve a full meeting of EU Youth Ministers from all Member States. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, will chair the May EU Youth Council, which brings together Ministers from all EU Member States. In this role, Ireland will bring forward work on a number of issues related to how quality youth work can contribute to young people’s development, well-being and social inclusion – this will include advancing the introduction of quality standards frameworks in youth work services and also how youth policy and the youth sector can bring about new synergies and elements to achieve the goals of Europe 2020 strategy. In addition, each Member State will discuss an issue of key significance in the youth policy domain as proposed by the Irish Presidency.
Informal policy debate on structured dialogue, 16 May 2013, Brussels
Ireland will host an Informal policy debate on structured dialogue between policy makers, young people, European Commission and the European Youth Forum on the day of the Council of Youth Ministers’ meeting.
Expert Roundtable event on ‘Youth work and its contribution to Europe 2020 and Employment’ 20 – 21 June 2013, Castletown House, Kildare
In response to the current challenges facing young people in terms of their access to employment, the Presidency will hold an expert round table event that will explore further the role of youth work in advancing employment for young people.