This episode is about youth work policy goals of the European Union and the Council of Europe. How similar and how different are they? How can they be reached by, for example, the European Year of Youth planned for 2022?

Show Notes

The EU-Council of Europe Youth Partnership has recently published a research paper “European youth work policy goals analysed” written by Ilona-Evelyn Rannala, Jelena Stojanovic and Marko Kovacic. The goal of this analysis is to showcase, examine and compare youth work policy goals/objectives of the European Union and the Council of Europe. Where do they meet? What is different? What tools do they propose to reach the youth work policy goals? 

In this episode, we are discussing these questions with Babis Papaioannou from the European Commission and Ilona-Evelyn Rannala, a youth researcher from Estonia. We also look into the European Youth Work Agenda and the response it got from the member states and the European Year of Youth.

Hosts: Dariusz Grzemny and Tanya Basarab

The transcript of the podcast is available HERE

European youth work policy goals analysed: The role of the EU-CoE Youth Partnership in the interplay between the European Union and the Council of Europe by Ilona Evelyn-Rannala, Jelena Stojanovic, Marko Kovacic

What is UNDER 30'?

Welcome to UNDER 30, the podcast series by the EU-Council of Europe youth partnership that brings research results, explores trends in young people's lives and themes relevant for youth policy and practice.

The EU-CoE youth partnership is a co-operation programme between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth, created in 1998, connecting youth research, policy and practice.

Dariusz: Welcome to UNDER 30, the podcast series by the youth partnership that brings the research
results, explores trends in young people's lives and themes relevant for youth policy and practice.

The youth partnership has recently published a research paper "European youth work policy
goals analyzed" written by Ilona-Evelyn Rannala, Jelena Stojanovic and Marko Kovacic.

The goal of this analysis is to showcase, examine, and compare youth
work policy goals of the European Union and the Council of Europe.

Where do they meet?

What is different?

What tools do they propose to reach the youth policy goals?

In this episode, we are discussing these questions
with Bobby's papaya, from the European commission.

In this episode, we are discussing these questions with Babis Papaioannou from
the European Commission and Ilona-Evelyn Rannala a youth researcher from Estonia.

We also look into the European youth work agenda and the response it got from
the member states and also European year of youth, which has been announced
by the European commission and it is planned to be launched in January, 2022.

My name is Dariusz Grzemny and I'm joined in this
podcast by Tanya Basarab from the youth partnership.

Enjoy listening.

Welcome to the next episode of our podcast.

And today we are talking about European youth work policy goals.

Sounds very complicated, but probably it's not that complicated.

We have a research paper that's trying to analyze European youth policy goals
of both European institutions, the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Can we say a few words on this document?

What's inside and what's the purpose of this document.

And probably Tanya, you will be the person who will start.

Tanya: Thank you, Darek.

So, just a small reminder.

2020 was a big year for youth work, for youth work policy because there
were many things that happened, but notably, we had the third
European Youth Work Convention and that was a big gathering.

It happened digitally in December, 2020 under German
Presidency of the EU and Chairmanship of the Council of Europe.

So that, that coincidence was a really nice thing for the whole community of youth work.

And actually since the convention we are talking about community
of practice in youth work, and that is something that we will be
probably growing as an understanding and as a concept in the future.

So we in the partnership of course supported the organization of
the convention, notably through analysis, research and so on.

And then there were more policy decisions after the convention.

There was also the final declaration of the convention and one of the commitments
that the two partner institutions made was to enhance their cooperation on a
European youth work agenda and to enhance it partly through the partnership as well.

And, trying to help people understand what this youth work agenda was about we asked Ilona, Marko
Kovacic who have very different, mixed experiences of practice, research, policy to look at the main
documents and main decisions that were done around what this European youth work agenda is about.

And also the declaration, the Council of Europe Recommendation, other relevant EU
decisions, and to see where the commonalities lie and what should we be doing together?

And they identified eight objectives or eight common themes, and
probably Ilona is better at explaining how they went about this analysis.

Ilona: Yes.


Well, we deep dived into the five documents in April May.

And it was a lot of deep swimming in the strategical documents, which are
sometimes let's be honest, hard to read and, very overboarded sometimes.

So, I think we helped the community of practice, like you mentioned Tanya, maybe to
sum it up a little bit and to showcase that those five and very important strategical
documents, EU and the Council of Europe, they are actually going into the same direction
and are giving us all some vision and goals to reach on the national level as well.

So yes, we came up with eight themes.

And we did go, not only focusing on your goals and aims which were headed in the
documents, goals and aims, but we looked deeper into that um, and trying to find
out how the goals and aims are commented through the texts are up to the end.

We came up with eight themes.

I may even say them now.

It's the quality of your work, youth workers who are learning and
co-operating, youth work, which is understood and recognized in the society,

innovative, adaptive and sustainable youth work, developing
youth work, youth work for youth core values, and youth policy.

And, I don't want to run ahead.

I'm sure Darek has many questions for us to answer but one thing I want to point out that all these
eight themes are interconnected and interlinked, and I'm sure we are going to discuss about this.

Dariusz: Yes, we will try.

Although as you said, it's a very complex document and there is eight themes.

So it's quite a lot of things to discuss, but comprehensive analysis, and very
clear as well to see what is distinctive, where the different documents or the
goals, youth work policy goals, how they are promoted by both institutions.

So if we can focus a little bit on this.

You said already Ilona that these documents are heading towards the same
direction, but it's very clear from the document that there are a few differences.

There are a lot of meeting points.

So if we can go a little bit in the details, just to showcase, where these
youth policy goals promoted by those two institutions in the documents
that we mentioned before, where do they meet and where they differ.

So if we can talk a little bit about it and probably it's to you
Ilona again, because you are one of the authors of the analysis.

Ilona: Well, you are quite right, it's a long discussion and we
could take half of a day to elaborate on the goals, in more detail.

As I said, they, the goals go hand in hand and the same
direction in the EU and Council of Europe documents.

It has to be mentioned though that in some goals, the Council of Europe is a bit more detailed
and more concrete, also already showing some mechanisms and possible ways to achieve those goals.

For example, talking about the quality of your work, it's
already a co-management and quality label mentioned there.

In supporting youth workers who all the key actually in fulfilling
those goals they already mention different programs and possibilities.

Then what is similar?

What has to be similar is the focus on young people.

EU documents and Council of Europe documents, they both stress that you work is
for all young people and that youth work is a very good practice to tackle and find
young people who are in more vulnerable positions or are marginalised in society.

So we both see you work as a very important practice in reaching all young people.

Also, what is similar, but also a little bit maybe different
is the innovation and sustainability of youth work.

Both institutions talk about it.

Council of Europe sees innovation as a principle or a value, which is booming
through the practice at all times at the same time, when EU is maybe a bit more not
concrete, but maybe seeing specific programs and specific measures taken under this.

And where they agree again, and which is very good.

I think is that youth work is definitely a part of youth policy, already established
part of youth policy and this should be the way how it's developed further.

So it's kind of a, in my way, in my mind it's backing youth work from the youth
policy view and it's very important, actually it helps a practice to establish.

I think also what is noticed in both documents quite well is that
youth work is a practice, which takes place in a certain context.

And the context in European countries is very different, our history is a bit different.

Our cultures are different.

And this explains and this is acknowledged in the documents, therefore youth work is very versatile.

It's complex.

It's different.

I think by recognizing this, it also puts us in a position, and this
is very clear in these documents that we need to address so many issues
from so many different contexts and the practices already existing.

And I think this might be maybe the biggest challenge, how to take all
this contexts, written into the goals in these documents, but then take
to, you know, in real life and, take some real steps to improve it.

So yeah, I went maybe too far with it.

Dariusz: Not too far.

I guess there is much more to read in the document.

You just made the very comprehensive summary of what is there.

We of course encourage everybody to go and look in this document.

Tanya, you have something to add.

Tanya: Yeah, just an anecdote as we are working on a thinking and action kit, based on
the research we did on education and training and career pathways for youth workers.

So we are trying to bring it closer to practitioners, to engage with the results of that research.

And one of the...

we asked some people to read the publication, the handbook.

And one of the questions that came back was what do you mean by" in your context"?

This is the first thing that people, I think, try to maybe forget when they orient themselves
to reading European documents or international documents or even training material.

But you cannot disconnect context from whatever action you want to take.

So it was interesting that you Ilona talked about this context and the
link and and making the right link between the goals and the context.

And it's exactly what a practitioner asked us to explain even more what
we mean by "in your context", because it can be in your organization's
context, in your small community context or in your country policy context.

So it can be at so many levels and we will be probably talking a lot about this in the future.

Babis: I would like to add also something characterized the year 2020.

And of course it's the pandemic.

So at the period of the pandemic and because of the lockdowns and because of the hard situation
of the youth civil society organizations around, we mentioned, and this is also something
that's coming out also from our results and from our researchers and the statistics that we
are receiving, we underline the importance of the youth work in the period of the pandemic.

And we underline the importance of the youth work,
especially in the small community, in the local level.

So this is something that we need to have in our mind, and to focus in the
next period that when the difficult things are coming there is a need of
youth working, active youth working, quality youth working in a local level
where the young people are living, where are the young people have the needs.

And when they, at the same time, the specific social categories of young people
that, let's say suffer more from all these amazing things, need extra support.

And that was also a starting point for us, for the European Commission to, to think twice about
what we're going to do with the EU programs on youth, European Solidarity Corps, Erasmus+.

We took the decision to keep the programs alive.

And to leave the space for the civil society actors to
apply and to implement in a digital format, unfortunately.

But again, the result is the same.

There is a need to focus more on quality youth work.

There is a need to invest more on a youth working in local and national level.

And this is why the agenda is a very important document that will help us a lot in the next steps.

And I believe that now we are ready to open this files, in co-operation of
course with the partnership and our stakeholders in the youth community.

Ilona: I'm not glad of the crisis.

Let's admit that this crisis has maybe done a favour, if you wish to say it
this way for the youth work and especially the acknowledgement and recognition
of youth work, which is one of the goals, and then in all these documents.

Now, when we are in a deep crisis, and young people have not been able
to access education or the training or the employment, so well, and they
have maybe been more at homes and we don't know what they have and so on.

And so on.

Then the importance of the youth work practice has really become more important (inaudible),
we definitely need to kind of, maybe again, it's not nice to say, but take advantage of the
crisis and communicate the thing, what youth work does for young people more clearly right now.

And this is the communication of youth work is also one of
the themes in this document and, the crisis has helped us.

And as you mentioned, the innovation and the digital spaces and the digital methods used
in the youth work definitely this has increased at the same time, working myself, in
Estonian Association of Youth Workers we have held quite many webinars and seminars for
youth workers to improve skills to work with digital, spaces and different, technologies.

I think this needs some more attention in the future as well the innovation.

I mean, what came out from the documents was that youth work and (inaudible), this is the
plus and the minus of the youth work because youth work is flexible and it should be flexible.

And it is stressed in the documents that we need to react to the circumstances
and see what's going on with young people in these circumstances.

But at the same time, I think Howard Williamson has also said that this makes us vulnerable
because if we are changing so flexibly and we're changing the practices and approaches
so flexibibly, we at all times need to explain it to the public community as well.

And do we have enough time for that?

Do we have enough resources for that?

And do we have well-equipped youth workers who are able to argument
and explain that practice or the umbrella organizations could do this.

So these are real life questions and they're actually embeded in these
documents as well, but maybe not into detail we are discussing right now.

So this is something we need to do in the future more and more, I think.

Dariusz: Thank you for this.

Yes, we also talked a bit in our podcast about how youth work actually adapted in the times of
COVID, giving different examples, about how it reacted and about the innovative methods it used.

And I think, this is, as you said Ilona, the power of
youth work that is very quickly adaptable and innovative.

And at the same time, we are a bit vulnerable or we may
face this wall of misunderstanding, of not being understood.

And I think that sometimes yes, we need to explain why we do it, how we adapt, and so on.

I think that the topics that you mentioned are also maybe not in details explained
in the different documents, but I think that the declaration of the Third European
Youth Work Convention actually confirms all of the things that we were saying.

And also confirming this adaptability, and also sometimes shifting the focus, which is important.

I mean thematic focus that is also a direct response from what's happening
in the world, for example, the focus on mental health of young people.

We mentioned here, the European youth work agenda.

We also talked about it a little bit before in our podcast.

In the end of the document, there is a couple of recommendations, I would say, quite a
big couple of recommendation, which are meant to kind of give directions, suggestions
for the institution, especially for the youth partnership on how to go forward.

And if we can say a few words about how this document actually helps the institutions
the partnership, and also the member states, of course, of the Council of Europe
and the European Union to engage with the implementation of the European youth
work agenda, because there's always this question coming, how we get involved, what
our role is when it comes to the implementation of the European youth work agenda.

Babis: Yes, really interesting question because we are
happy, as Tanya says, because the document is fine.

It's beautiful.

And it's a work that we expected for a lot of years, talking about the youth
civil society organizations and the youth movements and all the things.

So it was a clear signal that the two international organizations,
European Union and the Council of Europe are understanding the framework.

So yes, we have the recommendations part at the very end and says
what the two organizations can do what the member states can do.

And, I have the feeling that this is the difficult part.

So from the side of the European Union, I can say that the European Commission
is trying to push this agenda in every meeting with the governments.

There are governments that they are happy and they already accept the agenda.

And even I can say that they are pushing forward the agenda.

So, they are asking where we are and what we're doing.

So last December, we had a paper, what are the developments?

There are countries who believe that it's too early and we need
to study more the national conditions of youth work, and the youth
policy building, especially in this, we call it the recovery period.

So the period after the pandemic and, yes, there are also some countries who I
believe that they still don't have the agenda and the youth work as a clear priority.

Maybe it's not clear for them, how they are going to move on.

So from our side, we are developing some tools and we're working a
lot, especially this period because it's also the preparation phase for
the European year of youth that connect also the agenda as a priority.

And, I believe that also tomorrow it's, the youth working party again and we are going to explain
to the member states that there is a need to invest more, and there is an opportunity now to have
a more clear agenda on youth policy and the European youth work agenda is a crucial tool for that.

So we understand that there are countries who are.

interested to develop and for sure we will start from them.

There are proposals coming in Brussels, talking about
how to involve young people after the pandemic period.

How to we involve more young people?

And, there is, let's say, a slogan that we are using the last one month
that European Commission activities on youth must include all young people.

And this is a clear signal that we need to extend
the framework of the implementation of youth policy.

And this is again, why there is a need of involvement of for youth workers
and youth work based on all levels, local, regional, national, and European.

So practically we're going to have more details in the next period on that, but
for sure, we, as a practical, result, we are in the very last phase for the
starting of the subgroup on youth work, which is one of the, one of the tools that
will help us to develop the new portal, the new digital tools for youth workers.

And it's one of the, of our obligations as European Commission, based on the, on the agenda.

So we closed all the bureaucracy exercises and the calls and everything.

And we're going to have the kickoff meeting of the group of experts and member states.

Also we are going to push a lot of the youth work agenda, in, as I said in the youth year,
the coming youth year and the third, it will be a high level priority of the coming conference
of the future of Europe, which will take place in Strasbourg in May, having thousands of
youngsters from all over the country, one third of the participants so will be young people.

So we would be really interested to involve them.

And of course, youth work is again the tool for making the exercise available for all of us.

Dariusz: Thank you.

Tanya, the recommendations in the document that Ilona
co-wrote are very much directed towards youth partnership.

If you can say about how this can help you also in being involved
in the implementation of the agenda, but also, what plans you have.

Babis said a few words about what are the plans of European Commission for the very near future?

So what about the youth partnership?

Tanya: So one of the reasons that the authors made some specific recommendations
on how, what role the partnership could play in the future is because we ask them
to do this work in preparation of a consultative process for our future work plan.

So, of course, we wanted to understand what the demands are and to
figure out what could be the best role that the partnership could play
to support these processes like Babis mentioned in the European Union.

Next year, for example is already five years since the Council of Europe recommendation
on youth work was adopted and I would say that large scale projects that were funded
by Erasmus programs, such as Europe goes local, then all the initiatives on the
Council of Europe side with more discussion on more mainstreaming of youth work across
all their work across for example, quality label network support to member states.

So youth work has been dynamically growing in interest and importance.

And at the same time, you need to sustain this work.

So, for the partnership, at least for example, when Ilona was mentioning innovation,
digital innovation, there was a lot of innovation in youth work, even in outreach youth
work, in detached youth work in going in, we talked, I think also on the podcast, examples
of youth work supporting young people in the Highlands in Scotland or in rural Romania,
we had an really interesting webinar as part of the MOOCs on youth work essential.

So, the idea is to share these diversities, so people can take something for themselves
across the continent, but there are some big proposals as well that the Council of
Europe and the European Commission are discussing in terms of the partnership role.

And one of them is to develop a better dialogue with the community of practice.

So this is something we will be working towards 2023 with
the idea of having something between the conventions.

Let's recall that the conventions are big generators of
thinking, of direction, of drive on youth work policy.

And so, if in 2023 we organize such a big meeting of the community
of practice that will be a moment to take stock of where we are.

It will also be after the year of youth in the EU, it will be
after the evaluation of the Council of Europe Recommendation.

It will be hopefully after we have launched already self-paced learning as part of the MOOCs.

And so there's a lot to look at and to assess and to see how else we can adjust and how we can
reach out better and more with opportunities for youth workers and for young people as well.

Babis: And, and of course, don't forget to say that because now we are
preparing the work program of the partnership for the year 2022 and 2023.

It shall be as that, the youth work is one of the pillars of this two years plan.

And we are really happy because together with the colleagues from the
partnership, we are trying to explore youth work as it will be in the future.

Not mainstreaming youth work not how we are understanding youth work based on
today's conditions, but the youth work as young people ask based also on the
researches and statistics and whatever we are collecting from the programmes.

Dariusz: Thank you.

So there is a lot of things to expect to happen.

Probably some of them, we may even cover in our next podcast
because there's a lot of very big things coming, including.

the European year of youth, which I think will be full
of different activities and processes going on together.

Thank you, Ilona.

Thank you Babis and thank you, Tanya, for being with us today and, yes, you will find
the link to the analysis that we were talking today about in the notes to this episode.

So thanks a lot and bye-bye.