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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Press Release
Marie-Josée Jacobs: "There must be a way of developing a spirit of citizenship among young people"

Date of release : 26-04-2005

Policy area : Education, Youth and Culture Education, Youth and Culture

On 26 April 2005, at the end of the youth event organised by the Luxembourg Presidency, Marie-Josée Jacobs, Minister for Family and Integration, responsible for youth policy, held a press conference along with Jan Figel, the European Commissioner responsible for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism. Marie-Josée Jacobs first laid out an initial balance sheet for the Luxembourg Presidency regarding the youth sector and then summarised the work that had been carried out during the event.

At the level of youth policy, the Presidency's work is marked by two priorities: to promote and examine the open coordination method in the specific area of youth, adopted in June 2002 by the Council of Ministers, and to expand the cross-disciplinary aspects of the youth policy as part of the European Youth Pact.

The open coordination method was first defined at the Council of Lisbon in 2000. It aims to assist the work of the Member States in defining their respective national policies by setting indicators, objectives and exchanging best practices. The open coordination method mostly applies to areas of shared competence. It also involves evaluation and monitoring, as well as a peer review. The principle of subsidiarity establishes that all partners, including civil society, should be consulted during the process of the open coordination method.

The Luxembourg Presidency proposed a resolution to the Education, Youth, and Culture Council relating to redefining certain aspects of this open coordination method, particularly procedural aspects. "For example, analysing the initial situation compared to the common objectives," explained Marie-Josée Jacobs.

Regarding the youth sector, as part of the open coordination method, the Presidency drafted two resolutions based on common objectives. They are called "Participation of Young People in Representative Democracy" and "Youth Awareness". Marie-Josée Jacobs observed that "sometimes young people lack the motivation to participate in representative democracy." Describing this situation as "worrying", she proposes to "create a way of developing a spirit of citizenship among young people."

Marie-Josée Jacobs announced that as part of the open coordination method and as part of implementing the goal of "Greater understanding and knowledge for young people," a conference will be held in June, in Luxembourg, on the topic of "Creating a dialogue between those working with youth." Researchers, youth representatives and those in charge of youth administrations will reflect on the best ways to build networks enabling them to reach a deeper understanding of young people's situation and their surroundings, as well as a realistic way of implementing effective measures favouring youth.

Regarding the Presidency's second priority, discussions were marked by the emergence of the European Youth Pact. As part of a recent initiative by four heads of state and government, young people are included, for the first time, in the European Council's spring conclusions as a priority under the Lisbon Strategy, revealed Jan Figel. For her part, Marie-Josée Jacobs is pleased with this "victory for young people", which find themselves now "at the top of the European political agenda." The Pact's priorities were also considered in the drafting of the integrated guidelines, which should serve as the basis for the national plans established under the new governance of the Lisbon process.

On the issue of youth events, Marie-Josée Jacobs described it as a "grand success." She continued: "the quality of the debates by young people during this event reached a high level of maturity. Since the White Paper's publication, young people have been participating in developing the implementation of priorities. This participation is so important, and we are going to continue encouraging it." From 24–26 April, the youth event gathered some 100 young people from all EU countries to primarily discuss volunteerism and the European Youth Pact. According to Marie-Josée Jacobs, volunteerism is an indispensable element of any society, an element that "brings generations closer together in order to safeguard the solidarity that cements the European project." Marie-Josée Jacobs feels that volunteer work is the "cherry on top — without volunteer work, our society would be weakened on a human level." The youth event produced a final statement, the Luxembourg Declaration, which constitutes an "important element for assisting Member States in implementing the Youth Pact, as well as defining their respective national plans," concluded Marie-Josée Jacobs.

This page was last modified on : 27-04-2005

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