Daniel Poli

Youth as Actors of Change – Shaping and developing the EU Youth Strategy through research and innovation

The policy kick-off meeting for the projects in the tender category YOUNG 2014, part of the new Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, took place in Brussels on 10 and 11 June. The eight projects were presented to European Commission representatives from a range of policy areas, followed by a discussion of the various approaches and desired outcomes. IJAB is a partner in one of the new projects, which addresses youth e-participation.

The aim of the project EUth –Tools and Tips for Mobile and Digital Youth Participation in and across Europe, in which IJAB is a partner, is to develop technical and practical tools and assistance to facilitate and thus encourage more European youth participation.

At the start of the event, lines were drawn connecting the research programme YOUNG 2014 with the objectives and actions of the EU Youth Strategy. Fabienne Metayer from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) stressed the importance of evidence-based policy-making and said she would welcome exchanges offering new, scientifically confirmed impulses and innovations for shaping European youth policy. She pointed out the lack of current data on the target group and their behaviour, as well as the need for solid, research-based recommendations for educational and youth policies in these days of high youth unemployment, as well as for innovative tools to encourage participation by young people.

The new research projects presented at the meeting deal with the youth policy topics of mobility, exclusion, participation and ICT. They are therefore linked directly to the main objectives of the EU Youth Strategy, such as creating more opportunities and greater equality for young people in education and on the labour market, and encouraging young people to participate actively in society. In addition, Andrea Halmos of DG CONNECT (Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology) presented the two projects on youth e-participation that are being funded under the European Union’s E-Government Action Plan. The central goal here is to apply the “open participation” approach in order to support the empowerment of young people while helping to modernise public administration.

In 2015, the following research projects in the various youth policy fields were launched and will run for a three-year term:

YOUNG and Mobility

Mapping Mobility – Pathways, Institutions and Structural Effects of Youth Mobility in the EU

The project examines the question of how “good” mobility can impact on young people’s socio-economic and personal development. Detailed and systematic knowledge of mobility patterns on the individual and socio-structural level will be gathered to identify the obstacles to the beneficial and positive aspects of mobility. The project is coordinated by the University of Luxembourg.

Youth Mobility: Maximising Opportunities for Individuals, Labour Markets and Regions in the EU

The research project aims at identifying and quantifying the main types of international youth mobility in the EU and their characteristics. The regional impact of young people’s mobility is to be analysed in relation to their home and target regions, while giving consideration to the crucial phenomena of migration and return migration. The aim is to create a large pool of data on the nine countries studied that could be used to generate concrete recommendations for policy development. The project is coordinated by Sapienza University in Rome.

YOUNG and Exclusion

Social Exclusion of Youth in Europe: Cumulative Disadvantage, Coping Strategies, Effective Policies and Transfer

The aim of the project is to obtain an understanding of the consequences of crisis-induced developments on the youth labour market, identifying the connections between adverse living conditions and the corresponding compensation mechanisms. Social exclusion of youth in national contexts will be examined in order to derive concrete policy recommendations. The project is coordinated by Tallinn University.

Negotiating Early Job Insecurity and Labour Market Exclusion in Europe

NEGOTIATE is a research project examining the short- and long-term consequences of job insecurity and labour market exclusion of young people, focusing on the relationship between young people’s subjective and objective bargaining positions. The goal is to supply new and gender-sensitive knowledge of the short- and long-term implications of early job insecurity while working with young people and European stakeholders to develop new strategies for minimising early-stage labour market exclusion faced by young people. The project is coordinated by Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences.

YOUNG and Participation

Spaces and Styles of Participation. Formal, Non-formal and Informal Possibilities of Young People’s Participation in European Cities

The main research question here is how 15- to 30-year olds get involved in formal, non-formal and informal public settings, and how this commitment is encouraged or inhibited by local youth policy and youth work. The project intends to create a stock of empirical knowledge and to extend concepts for participation. The main focus is on linking young people’s personal biographies with the social spaces in which they participate based on their subjective point of view. Included in the examination are urban environments in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK. The project is coordinated by Goethe University Frankfurt on the Main.

Constructing AcTive CitizensHip with European Youth: Policies, Practices, Challenges and Solutions

The purpose of this research project is to identify the psychological, development-related, macro-social and contextual factors at work behind the various forms of active youth participation in Europe. Through ongoing dialogue between researchers, young people and relevant interest groups, a solid and innovative concept of young people as active EU citizens is to be formed using an evidence-based, multilevel model. This model seeks to explain the factors and processes that determine how young people conceive of active citizenship, in order to strengthen youth participation and generate concrete recommendations for political practice. The project is coordinated by the University of Bologna.

Young and ICT

STEP – Societal and Political Engagement of Young People in Environmental Issues

The project will develop and pilot a cloud-based e-participation platform designed according to the SaaS (Software as a Service) principle, with the aim of promoting social and political participation by young people in decision-making on environmental issues. Four pilot projects in Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey were selected. In collaboration with regional authorities in these countries, the goal is to involve 8,200 young platform users and 85 politicians in a total of 65 decision-making processes. The project is coordinated by DRAXIS Environmental Technologies in Thessaloniki. (http://www.draxis.gr/en/news/67)

EUth – Tools and Tips for Digital and Mobile Youth Participation in and across Europe

A digital platform for youth participation will be developed and tested based on the experience gained in three pilot projects (throughout Europe within the student organisation AEGEE, the city of Paris and the French Federation of Community Centres, as well as a cross-border project with Italy and Slovenia) and the expertise of eleven partners from eight European countries. The platform will be available for use by both youth organisations and public administrations as a way of carrying out youth participation processes. An open call towards the end of the project period, in which ten projects across Europe will receive €10,000 in funding to realise the implementation of participation strategies, will provide the initial impetus for active use of the platform by public authorities and youth organisations. The project is coordinated by the nexus Institute for Cooperation Management and Interdisciplinary Research in Berlin.
(see also www.euth.net)

In addition to the new projects, other current or already completed research projects were also presented at the meeting as good practice examples, and there was a lively exchange of news and views. To wrap up, the European Commission representatives once again expressed their great interest not only in the results of the projects, but also in the ongoing research and development processes. For the EUth project, concrete arrangements were made with DG CONNECT and DG EAC to present the initial results at a working meeting, where they can be discussed in more detail.

The new research projects can provide fresh inspiration for shaping youth policy on a national level as well, for example through the implementation of the EU Youth Strategy in Germany. The Directorate-General for Research and Innovation will publish a summary of the current projects in the coming weeks under the title “Their Future Is Our Future. Youth as Actors of Change”.

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