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The Belgian EU presidency for Youth programme

lachende jongen vol verf

From January 1 to June 30, 2024, Belgium is, even more so than usual, the beating heart of the EU. This generates a lot of additional international attention and is an excellent opportunity to showcase the Belgian expertise in youth affairs. As presidency, we are not only responsible for maintaining the continuity of the EU agenda and ensuring good cooperation between the member states, but also have the chance to emphasize our own priorities.

The youth priorities during the Belgian presidency are involving, empowering and connecting young people. The EU Youth Presidency focuses on the following topics:

  1. Promote the social inclusion of young people and implementing the European youth goal 'inclusive societies'.
  2. Help further develop youth work within Europe with a focus on local youth work and democracy.
  3. Evaluate the European and international policy agendas on children, youth and children's rights.

Central to the presidency is the Youth Council. The European conferences organised by the department, however, also play an important role. In European youth policy, the participation of young people is central and during our presidency, too, we will continue along these lines. During our conferences, young people will be able to give their input.

The Youth Council

EU ministers competent for youth meet during the Youth Council. In addition to the rolling European dossiers, the Presidency initiates council conclusions and council resolutions. Unlike legislation, council conclusions are not legally binding but express the member states' position on a particular topic. Council conclusions therefore adopt a political position on a topic or issue after debate among the member states. Council resolutions are also not legally binding but express a commitment by member states to implement certain actions. 

The first council conclusions focus on the theme 'inclusive societies for young people'. Young people formulated this objective in the participatory process of the EU Youth Dialogue. The Council conclusions aim to strengthen social cohesion within Europe with a focus on healthy and liveable neighbourhoods for young people.  

The second council conclusions deal with the evaluation of the European and international policy agendas on children, youth and children's rights. The State of the Art document aims to create stronger ties between youth policy and children's rights policy, not only at the European level but also with other multilateral fora such as the Council of Europe and the United Nations.  

Finally, a council resolution on 'youth work policies in a new Europe' is also being prepared. Since the previous council resolution on youth work in 2010, our society has changed in many ways. With this council resolution, we want to respond to these new challenges. Belgium can play a pioneering role here and support high-quality youth work within the European Union. 


Expert seminar on European and international policy agendas on children, youth affairs and children's rights - January 21-23, 2024  

We kick-off the Belgian Presidency for the Youth Council with an expert seminar where experts and policy makers discuss youth and children's rights policies. The seminar will focus on the update of the 2010 council conclusions on the European and international policy agendas on youth and children's rights and evaluation of the 5 biennial updates of the state of the art document. 

Those council conclusions and state of the art document introduced an overview of existing international and European youth and children's rights policies. The document offers policy makers and experts a valuable overview of developments in each other's policy areas. During the seminar we want to evaluate and update that document. In this way the Belgian Presidency of Youth wants to better streamline the functioning of the Council Working Group on Youth Affairs with existing and future children's rights agendas and bring European and international policy agendas on children, youth and children's rights closer together.  

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European conference on local youth work and democracy - February 20-23, 2024   

The European Conference on Local Youth Work and Democracy brings together 350 youth workers and youth organisations, municipalities, young people and youth policy practitioners who will focus on European youth work policy. Local youth work and participatory environments, active citizenship and the role of municipalities in supporting local youth work will be the focus during these 3 days.   

The conference aims to provide new impetus for youth work within Europe at the local level. The event highlights good practices and aims to inspire youth work and youth work policies, especially at the local level.   

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The European Youth Conference - March 2 to 5, 2024  

From March 2 to 5, 2024, the EU Youth Conference will take place in Ghent. For 4 days about 300 young people, politicians, experts and policy makers from the European Union will debate with each other. The recommendations the young people will formulate will be taken to the Council working groups, the Council of Ministers of Youth and the Directors-General meeting. 

The Youth Conference is part of the EU Youth Dialogue, the largest structured civic participation process in the world. The EU Youth Dialogue is organized in 18-month cycles and thus during 3 presidencies. The trio of presidents work together on the same theme and each organize a youth conference. Belgium, together with its trio partners Spain and Hungary, will focus on the theme of inclusive societies

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Meeting for the Directors-General of Youth and the Directors of National Agencies - March 26 to 28, 2024   

To support the work in the Youth Council, the Department is organizing a meeting and exchange moment between the Directors-General of Youth and the Directors of the National Agencies for Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps. The programme includes the mid-term evaluation of the European Youth Strategy 2019-2027 and the evaluation of the European youth programmes Erasmus+ Youth and the European Solidarity Corps. 

The purpose of the meeting is to prepare the rolling EU agenda and the evaluations of the youth strategy and youth programmes. This way, Belgium can set the stage for future negotiations, have an impact on the next EU youth strategy and help shape future EU youth programmes. 


Other events

During the presidency, we will actively engage with other events, like Ghent European Youth Capital and the Youth Week, seeking opportunities to cooperate.  

Ghent European Youth Capital 2024 offers a unique opportunity for young people, organisations, and institutions to shape the city's future by focusing on three central priorities: voluntary engagement, creating spaces for youth, and addressing mental health, diversity, and sustainability. 

European Youth Week celebrates young people's engagement in their communities, featuring a wide array of events in 33 countries as part of the European Union's Youth in Action Programme, including film festivals, flashmobs, concerts, and street parties, primarily taking place from May 26th to June 2nd, with additional events before and after, and online streaming of select activities. 

Pauline Coenen
Kennis en Beleid