Youth Sector undergoes heavy budget cuts
Continuous budget decline jeopardizes the Council of Europe’s youth sector
The Council of Europe’s new Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland emphasises the need for an institutional reform in order to seize a historic opportunity to advance the European project on the basis of deep security. On the base of his reform ambition Mr Jagland asked all Council of Europe sectors including the Youth Sector to cut costs and to engage in a budget decrease of 7% for 2011.
ISCA backs the Secretary Generals assessment of an institutional reform and underlines the innovation potentials of such a reform process. Also, ISCA reminds that both the field of Youth, Sport and Culture contribute strongly to the furthering of the Council of Europe’s core values and that these three fields are greatly capable to build bridges between institutions and the citizens in Europe. In this respect the results produced over the past many years in the youth field are outstanding and are still the benchmark in European youth work.
Therefore we believe that the field of action for youth, sport and culture should be extended and further resources should allocated to these sectors in order implement effectively the reform priorities described by Mr Jagland.
The Council of Europe’s youth sector underwent substantive budget adjustments and is today in a situation where both Council of Europe member states and youth NGOs are seriously worried about the future of the youth sector.
For the past 10 years ISCA has been involved with the Council of Europe’s youth sector through a large number of international non-formal education activities such as youth seminars, trainings, and conferences. Since the beginning of 2009 ISCA participates via its youth representative Jean-Luc Frast in the institutional life of the Council of Europe’s Youth Sector in particular the Joint Council on Youth and since the beginning of 2010 ISCA is involved with the Council of Europe’s on an institutional cooperation within the field of sport in particular the consultative committee of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport.
ISCA sincerely joins the message below sent by the Council of Europe’s Joint Council on Youth addressed to the Council of Europe’s Secretary General on the occasion of the 22nd meeting Joint Council on Youth (CMJ), Strasbourg, 8-10 March 2010.
STATEMENT BY THE JOINT COUNCIL ON YOUTH TO BE ADDRESSED TO THE SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE
The Joint Council on Youth has taken due note of the Secretary General’s vision for the Council of Europe and his project for reform, as well as the budgetary proposal prepared by the Directorate of Youth and Sports’ Secretariat (document DJS/CMJ(2010)6).
With regard to the Reform of the European Court of Human Rights, the youth sector is one of the most relevant partners: it supports a more effective human rights-based reality in Member States and local communities, and hence largely contributes to the decrease in recourses to the Court. Through its highly successful programmes for Human Rights Education and Intercultural Dialogue, the Youth Sector has reached hundreds of thousands of young people in over 50 nations, empowering them to enact democratic participation, breeding a Europe of better governance, thereby furthering deep security in Europe.
In the light of the central role played by the youth sector in furthering Council of Europe values, preserving the autonomy and financial viability of youth organisations—central pillars of democracy—is of the utmost importance. Every Euro spent on the youth sector is a long-term investment in human rights, democracy, and deep security in Europe: supporting the youth sector of today is breeding the social stability of tomorrow.
As for many other Directorates, the Directorate of Youth and Sports has been subject to dramatic budget realignments over the past few years.
These budget reductions have strongly affected the decision-making capacity of the co-management system, as its share of the budget has decreased substantially. The Joint Council on Youth regrets this development, and recalls the uniqueness of the co-management system as a strong asset of the youth sector compared to other international players and institutions such as the European Union.
These reductions have also meant that the youth sector had to reduce its unique contribution to the Council of Europe’s overarching aims. The comparative advantages brought by the DYS include the well-established expertise of its staff and trainers; a European Youth Foundation that enables youth organisations to implement their activities (this is especially important for the non-EU-based youth organisations, distinguishing the Council of Europe from the European Union); the European Youth Centres, which allow outreach to a large amount of young people in Europe, and also enables youth activities to take place with support from the CoE staff in purposeful and supportive environments.
The Joint Council on Youth would like to emphasise the very central role played by young people and youth organisations in furthering the Council of Europe’s core values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law; their strong contribution towards social stability, the promotion of social inclusion and human rights in many communities across Europe; and their dynamism, their ability to respond to contemporary societal challenges, and their commitment to a united pan-European area. The work done by young people and youth organisations with the Council of Europe reduce the gap between decision-making and policy implementation; young people and youth organisations are engaged in opening up and implementing political processes at all levels, making them accessible and tangible for citizens whilst furthering European values.