Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, Brussels, 16-17th of November 2009.
European Dialogue Society, Lviv, Ukraine,
Network of Multipliers of Youth in Action Programme in Eastern Europe and Caucasus
SALTO Eastern Europe and Caucasus Resource Centre
Proposals for complementing Youth in Action Programme in the six partner countries
For the thematic platform 'Contacts between People', the European Commission proposed, “to open a window to complement the Youth in Action Programme in the six partner countries.” This statement contains a short overview of the implementation of the Youth in Action Programme in the six partner countries, and proposals for the abatement of existing barriers to cooperation.
Youth in Action Programme for Eastern Europe: formal frames of cooperation
The Youth in Action Programme is a European Community Programme which allows the development of contacts and cooperation among young people in EU and Neighbouring Partner Countries. The Youth in Action Programme contributes to the fulfilment of the aims declared in the Lisbon Strategy, European Youth Pact, European Commission Plan for Dialogue, Democracy and Debate and EU Strategy for Youth.
Six Eastern Partnership partner countries as well as the Russian Federation enjoy the status of Partner countries in the Region of Eastern Europe and Caucasus (EECA). These countries participate in the programme in the frame of Action 2 (European Voluntary Service) and Action 3.1 (Youth in the World).
Young people from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine can participate in youth exchanges, volunteering, training and networking activities. All activities can be realized in EU or Partner countries. Other activities of the YiA Programme - Youth Initiatives, Youth in Democracy, Youth Policy Development - are not available for Partner countries. All projects are based on the non-formal educational approach and should be relevant to the Programme priorities of European citizenship, youth participation, cultural diversity and inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities.
The projects which include EECA Partner Countries are realised in partnership with organisations from Programme countries (i.e. EU, EFTA and EU candidates); only organisations from the Programme countries can apply for the activities taking part in their country or in the EECA. In comparison to other Partner Countries (i.e. Euro-Med and South Eastern Europe), there are no additional instruments available to Eastern Partnership partner countries to apply directly to the relevant institutions on behalf of all partners involved in their project activity. For example youth organisations from South East Europe (SEE) can apply directly to the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) and get finances within the Western Balkan Window Fund. In case of Euro-Med Countries the youth organisations from this Region could apply in frame of the Euro-Med Youth III Programme, which was finished last year. The next Euro-Med Youth IV Programme is planned to be launched in Autumn 2010.
The role of SALTO Eastern Europe and Caucasus Resource Centre (SALTO EECA RC)
SALTO EECA Resource Centre was formed in October 2003 by the European Commission. It continues work on the basis of EC decisions to support cooperation within the Youth in Action (YiA) Programme with Neighbouring Partner Countries from Eastern Europe and Caucasus Region. It works to raise visibility and awareness of the opportunities in the Youth in Action Programme for the Eastern Europe and Caucasus region, providing support and expertise to National Agencies of the Programme by contributing to events promoting cooperation with the EECA region, promoting international co-operation with EECA Partner Countries and supporting project organisers in the development of contacts, partnerships and projects. SALTO EECA RC created and developed the Network of Multipliers of the YiA Programme in countries from Eastern Europe and Caucasus. Multipliers are experienced youth workers who can provide informational and promotional support and consultancy in order to develop international youth cooperation with their countries.
The involvement of six Eastern Partnership countries in the Youth in Action Programme
70 youth exchanges, 59 training and networking actions and 202 EVS volunteers were hosted in six countries during 2007/2008 in the frame of the Youth in Action Programme. At the same time participants from six countries participated in 179 youth exchanges and 130 training and networking actions in different Programme Countries. 337 volunteers from six countries conducted their voluntary service in EU countries. There is a positive dynamic in the number of projects and participating organisations, as well as rising quality of youth work in six partner countries; however it does not reflect the real capacity for international youth cooperation we have in the EECA region.
European Awareness, Art and Culture and Social Inclusion are the most popular themes of the projects granted in the year 2008, there were 483 partner organisations included in different projects on youth exchanges, training and networking, 6808 people participated in these activities. 55 organisations were involved in EVS bilateral projects, which involved 368 volunteers.
Activities carried out in the frame of the Youth in Action Programme are financed on a national level (National Agencies) in Programme countries. The involvement of the countries is unequal. In 2008 55% of all projects were financed by five National Agencies (Poland, Turkey, Germany, United Kingdom and Romania), with the first three covering 42%. 8 National Agencies didn’t grant any project with EECA countries in 2008.
Positive impact from the Programme
- Rising quality of youth work in EECA, exploring a non-formal educational approach in relevant countries. The system of education in EECA countries is rather “formal” and does not follow democratic principles everywhere, thus the Youth in Action Programme allows participants to share experience and to implement new models of education in a non-formal way, and to contribute to reforms in the system of education in their countries.
- Youth in Action provides possibilities for establishing intercultural dialogue within Europe, but also between EECA countries. Young people in EECA have the least chance of mobility; the Youth in Action Programme allows for their participation in activities abroad. It is also a space for meeting young people not only the EU but also from other countries in the region.
- The Programme is a tool for organisations working with youth to improve their capacity in working internationally, to communicate with different partners and to create a common framework of references; it means to feel included in European processes.
Barriers for developing activities
- The presence of the Youth in Action Programme in EECA does not have strong connections to the youth and education policy. Youth and education are not the main points forming reforms in the countries, but these spheres are important for introducing a system of values which helps to provide deep political and economical changes. It is worth developing youth policy and education debate in the region by involving a wide range of actors.
- The region is not included in the process of recognition of non-formal education in EECA; therefore the non-formal education activities are mostly matters for non-governmental organisations and often establish controversies in relation to official educational and cultural policies. The European values of reform are based in the sphere of education and culture and could be a supportive element for the recognition of non-formal education in the region.
- State regulations and law create obstacles for project development. There are no clear regulations in partner countries in the sphere of non-governmental institutions and volunteering, adopting new law according to democratic and human rights standards is a basic for rising efficiency and transparency in project implementation in relevant countries.
- Visa requirements for participants, especially for young people with fewer opportunities, create obstacles for young people to participate in activities abroad. This is a significant barrier for young people with fewer opportunities, who are unable to prove their financial conditions or assure authorities of their will to not remain illegally. National regulation of some countries and additional requests from consular services force the redesign or total abandonment of the project. The Youth in Action Programme could be recognised as a special condition for obtaining EU visas.
Direction for improvement / complementing the Youth in Action Programme in Eastern Partnership partner countries
- To create additional financial tools (e.g. an Eastern Window) for non-governmental organisations from 6 partner countries, which allow for organisations from partner countries to apply directly to Brussels in order to get granting for international youth activities (e.g. youth exchanges, European Voluntary Service etc.). The new fund Eastern Window could be based on the experiences of the Western Balkan Window, which was created in 2007 for South East Europe. The Western Balkan Window significantly increased youth mobility and international youth cooperation between the EU and South East Europe.
- To support youth policy debates, measures for developing youth initiatives, mobility and education within the region; to develop tools for framing youth cooperation in a democratic framework; to raise initiative for integration and post-crisis resolution for young people.
- To work out clear regulations for cooperation with the region and elaborate tools to include more EU countries in cooperation with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Yaryna Borenko from European Dialogue, Andriy Pavlovych from SALTO EECA RC,
Members of Network of Multipliers of Youth in Action Programme in Eastern Europe and Caucasus
- Atom Mkhitaryan from Federation of Youth Clubs of Armenia (FYCA)
- Lusine Simonyan from Capacity and Development for Civil Society
- Anna Yeghoyan from Youth Initiative Centre of Gyumri
- Emin Amrullayev from AEGEE: European Students' Forum-Baki
- Shahin Bayramov from Association of Young Azerbaijani Friends of Europe
- Olga Artsiukh from Youth Cultural Social Public Union White Coffee
- Alesia Bialenik from Centre for Informational Support of Public Initiatives The Third Sector
- Yaroslav Oleinik from League of Youth Voluntary Service
- Pavle Tvaliashvili from SIQA- Georgian Association of Educational Initiatives
- Giorgi Kakulia from Academy for Peace and Development
- Giorgi Kikalishvili from Youth Association DRONI
- Natasha Alexandrov from ADVIT Europe without Borders
- Maxim Pijevskii from Youth Forum New Moldova
- Viorica Topor from International Organization Youth Generation
- Oksana Bondar from Vinnytsia Centre for European Information
- Andriy Donets from Donetsk Youth Debate Centre
- Olena Yaremko from Academy of Ukrainian Youth