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08-11-2013

Agora 2013: young Europeans propose ways to fight youth unemployment

Opening the Agora, EP president Martin Schulz said: "We think this is a question of survival for our democratic system. The most important thing for every generation of parents is, what are the chances for my children, for our children." EP vice-president Isabelle Durant added: "This conference aims to understand what the obstacles are that young people encounter when looking for a job

“We want to work and make a meaningful contribution to society”, young people say

A “youth charter” setting out common principles on internships and volunteering, measures to foster entrepreneurship at an early stage and enabling young people to manage a small part of the EU Youth Employment Initiative programme were among the key recommendations of the Citizens’ Agora on Youth Unemployment, held in Brussels on 6-8 November. These conclusions could serve as input for the conference of heads of state on youth unemployment in Paris on 12 November.

“I’m positively surprised by the quality of the results, which are straight to the point and concrete. I note in particular the recognition of volunteering, the role of entrepreneurship in creating value added and jobs, the importance of the Internet and social media in disseminating information, and the idea of young people managing a small percentage of budgets” said European Parliament Vice-President Isabelle Durant.

“You have some great strengths, you have presented extremely strong views, and you gave us a lesson in democracy through your conduct in discussion, your way of listening to others and the final vote", said Martin Hirsch, former French High Commissioner for Active Solidarity against Poverty and current President of the French Civic Service Agency, who led the debates.

Youth charter

The final recommendations call for minimum pay for internships with exceptions, recognition of formal and informal skills, notably those acquired through volunteering. Youth employment issues should also be included in corporate social responsibility schemes, says the text.

Entrepreneurship

Measures to foster entrepreneurship should start at an early stage, from school, said the young people, who are convinced that “entrepreneurship belongs to their future and to the future of Europe”. They also stressed the need to give young entrepreneurs a status and priority in public procurement.

Shaping policy

Participants stressed that they want to be involved in designing and implementing policies. For example, a small percentage of the Youth Employment Initiative, one of the new EU youth programmes, should be dedicated to projects conceived by youth, says the approved text.

Better information and tools

Participants also called for the creation of information platforms, training and professional guidance and improved information on EU programmes.

Mobility in the EU should be a choice and an opportunity, not forced by economic necessity, they added.

Watch the EPTV video summing up the three-day event