The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU’s governing institutions, has adopted a new plan, the Youth Action Plan, which targets young people around the globe to come together to “build a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future”.
The European Union’s latest strategic partnership isn’t with a continent, country or even a government. It is with the young people of the world, whom they hope to mobilise as a powerful force for change.
As part of the European Year of Youth, the new Youth Action Plan in EU External Action is looking to unite youth in partner countries with those in the European Union, and it is guided by three principles: engagement, empowerment, and connections.
By engaging, the EC intends to increase youth voices in policy and decision-making. They will also endeavour to fight inequality and provide young people with the skills needed to be effective members of a global society, thus empowering them. Finally, the plan will connect youth through networking and exchanges, giving them opportunities outside their normal spheres and fostering friendships and understanding.
“With the world undergoing a demographic transition, the Youth Action Plan will be an important contribution to our pursuit of intergenerational solidarity and equity,” said European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica. “We need to empower children and young people across the world, ensure that they have concrete opportunities and promote the effective engagement of young people and children as a right, ensuring no one is left behind. We share the collective responsibility to build more democratic, equal and peaceful societies, also for future generations.”
Some of the new and ongoing initiatives falling under this umbrella plan include the Youth and Women in Democracy Initiative, a €40 million project that will give youth and women activists and organisations the chance to participate more fully in political affairs. They will also be backing the Youth Empowerment Fund, a pilot scheme that will provide direct financial backing to youth-led projects in partner nations who are promoting sustainable development at a grass-roots level. Additionally, the plan will fund the Africa-Europe Youth Academy, which will funnel €50 million in fiscal support to young people from Africa who are willing to improve their leadership skills and become policy-makers.
As Commissioner for International Partnership Jutta Urpilainen said of the overall good that is hoping to be achieved: “The Youth Action Plan lives up to our commitment to putting youth at the centre of the EU’s external action for sustainable development, equality, and peace and giving them a real voice to shape the solutions for a better future. We have heard young people and will meaningfully engage, empower and connect with them while providing them with opportunities, starting with the Global Gateway Strategy, the EU’s offer to partners for investments that work for people and the planet.”
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