"Young people have named employment as fundamental to being included in society and highlighted the transition from education to employment at a particularly vulnerable time,” said Fergus O’Dowd TD, Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government on the final day of the EU Youth Conference in Dublin.
The Minister spoke at the closing plenary of the EU Youth Conference, which brought together some 150 young people and 100 policy-makers from all 27 EU Member States.
The Minister noted that seven thematic areas, drawn from the results of national consultations in the 27 Member States, were explored at the Conference. Young people and Ministry officials from the 27 Member States have jointly defined a set of 21 priority conclusions. These will inform a Council Resolution on Social Inclusion at the end of the 18-month consultation cycle with young people. They will also inform Council Conclusions on the contribution of quality youth work to the development, well-being and social inclusion of young people to be proposed by Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, under the Irish EU Presidency to the Council of Youth Ministers in May 2013.
Minister O’Dowd - “I am impressed by the power of the EU Commission’s Structured Dialogue process, which provides opportunities for young people and youth organisations to input their views to the formulation of the policies that affect them.”
Minister O’Dowd said “I can see the potential for ‘structured dialogue’ in many policy fields. I will follow with interest the development of this powerful mechanism to include the views of young people in the design and implementation of the policies that affect their lives”.
Ms Chiara Gariazzo, Director for Youth and Sport, European Commission said: “In addition to unemployment there is a need to address the wider social consequences of the current crisis on young people: the theme, “Social Inclusion”, of the EU Youth Conference is therefore particularly relevant. This is an issue where youth work can make a difference and the Commission welcomes the proposal of the Irish Presidency to focus the exchanges among Directors-General for Youth on this theme.”
Peter Matjašič, President of the European Youth Forum said: ‘’We are pleased to see that the joint discussions of young people and policy-makers at the EU Youth Conference reflect the social inclusion needs of young people today; especially regarding the transition from education to employment with quality career guidance counseling and paid internships. The conclusions emphasise the role youth organisations play in the social inclusion of young people and should be recognised for their contribution. It is very important that there is agreement that young people should always have a decisive role in shaping youth work.'
In addressing the issue of social inclusion, Mary Cunningham, Director, National Youth Council of Ireland said: “Social change is possible when we start working together and, as the inspirational young people from Hi-Rez Youth Centre reminded the conference yesterday that tackling social exclusion is everybody’s business. Youth organisations have a key role to play in helping young people change the way they feel about social exclusion and in showing how all young people can be included and be comfortable being themselves - whoever they are”.
“During the three days of this conference more than 700 babies will have been born in Ireland - too many of these will be counted among the socially excluded now and in the future. To effect real change we must address the structural issues that sustain this reality and ensure that ‘social inclusion’ becomes the central piece in the social policy jigsaw puzzle both here in Ireland and across the EU,” she concluded.
The EU Youth Conference is an element of the Structured Dialogue process which brings together young people and policy makers across the European Union to jointly discuss and inform the development of youth policy at national and European level. The Structured Dialogue process was established by the Council of the European Union in its Resolution for a Renewed Framework for cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018). The Structured Dialogue process is an important instrument to ensure that the opinions and views of young people are taken into account in the formation of policies in the youth field.
For the 18 month cycle (1 January 2013 – 30 June 2014), the Trio Presidency, Ireland, Lithuania and Greece, in cooperation with the European Commission and the European Youth Forum have agreed that the theme of the Structured Dialogue process throughout the cycle is Social Inclusion. This was subsequently endorsed by the Council in a Resolution adopted in November 2012. Each of the three consultation phases will reflect this thematic priority, with the results from each phase informing the next phase, leading towards a collective outcome at the end of the cycle. Presidency specific priorities will contribute to the overall thematic priority of social inclusion.
The Irish EU Youth Conference is the first conference within the Trio Presidencies of Ireland, Lithuania and Greece, highlighting the theme of the social inclusion of young people. Seven thematic areas drawn from the results of national consultations provided by 27 Member States and 10 International Non-Governmental Organisations were explored at the Conference via joint workshop sessions. Young people and Ministry officials from the 27 Member States have jointly defined the following conclusions. These will inform a Council Resolution on Social Inclusion at the end of the 18 month cycle. They will also inform Council Conclusions on the contribution of quality youth work to the development, well-being and social inclusion of young people to be proposed by the Irish Presidency to the Council of Youth Ministers in May 2013.