European politics

Appeal: Council of Europe - Youth work threatened by financial cuts

Joint appeal of the German Sports Youth, the German Federal Youth Council and the German-French Youth Association: The youth sector of the Council of Europe is enormously endangered by imminent budget cuts.

We, the German Sports Youth, the German Federal Youth Council and the Franco-German Youth Office, are following with great concern the current discussions in the Council of Europe on the future of its youth activities as a result of non-payment by Russia and rigid budgetary principles.

A draft emergency plan by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, which has been on the table since 3 May 2019, provides for the complete removal of the Council of Europe's youth activities from the 2020/21 dual budget due to financial bottlenecks and their outsourcing to a separate agreement. This step is neither meaningful nor sustainable and poses a major risk for the future of European youth work. It sends a very discouraging message to young people, youth workers* and youth organisations in the Member States.

The work of the Youth Section of the Council of Europe, its European Youth Centres opened in 1972 (in Strasbourg) and 1995 (in Budapest) and the European Youth Centre, founded in 1972, is for us an indispensable part of the Council of Europe. Outsourcing weakens the spread of Council of Europe values such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law among young people in Council of Europe member states and neighbouring countries. In many Member States, the work of independent youth organisations is under severe political pressure. For them, the Council of Europe is often the only partner to facilitate educational and encounter work and to network with other European structures. In the past few months, valuable support programmes have already been cancelled, including the debate on the history and memory of the Holocaust.

The Council of Europe is a pioneer in the field of youth participation: no other political institution has youth participation been lived as it is here. In the Council of Europe's Advisory Council on Youth, all decisions are taken jointly by government representatives* and young people in youth matters and youth participation is actively lived - this is unique. Throughout Europe, the Council of Europe is an important source of inspiration and hope for young people and youth organisations.

In the 70th year of its existence, the Council of Europe is now faced with the risk of losing this future work for democracy and human rights. That would be a fatal sign. On 17 May 2019 France and in November 2020 Germany will chair the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for 6 months each. Strengthened by the Treaty of Aachen, this is a great opportunity to strengthen the Council of Europe and to prevent a settlement.

We appeal to all member states of the Council of Europe to work for the preservation of the Youth Section as an equal part of the Council of Europe structures and to advocate an increase in Council of Europe contributions.

Vive l'Europe!

Themen: European politics