Our work for and with youth is guided by the Youth Action Plan (YAP) in European Union external action for 2022-2027, the first ever policy framework for a strategic partnership with young people around the world.
The main priority of the YAP is to shape external action in partnership with young people, to ensure their ownership and thus accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international commitments, such as the UN Youth, Peace and Security Agenda.
The Youth Action Plan has been drawn up after extensive consultation with over 220 stakeholders across the globe, including, of course, youth organisations. The Youth Sounding Board for EU International Partnerships has been involved in the process of consultation and design.
With a focus on the transition from childhood to adulthood, and as a deliverable of the European Year of Youth 2022, the YAP strengthens the international dimension of the EU Youth Strategy and builds on the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, which promotes meaningful participation and empowerment from the early years of life.
Our approach to working with and for youth is guided by the 3 pillars of action of the Youth Action Plan
- partnership to engage: increasing young people’s voices in policy and decision-making
- partnership to empower: fighting inequalities and providing young people with the skills and tools they need to thrive
- partnership to connect: fostering opportunities for young people to network and exchange with their peers worldwide
Partnership to engage
Young people demand and deserve a comprehensive approach to ensure meaningful, inclusive and effective youth participation. The EU is committed to increasing the voice and leadership of young people worldwide, in particular young women and girls, youth activists and organisations. This engagement should take place at all levels of governance: from domestic politics to multilateral forums, and within EU policy-making processes.
At regional level, several successful initiatives have already been supported to engage young people with decision-makers, for example the Young Leaders’ Summit on the margins of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, the EU-ASEAN Young Leaders Forum, or ahead of the 6th EU-AU Summit.
Under the Youth Action Plan, the €40 million flagship Youth and Women in Democracy Initiative will be launched. This initiative will support youth-led organisations to take action for electoral and democratic reform, and against corruption, and to improve public governance. It will provide capacity-building to young politicians to reinforce their legitimacy as young elected officials.
Partnership to empower
Young people are empowered when their voices are heard and the inequalities that affect their lives are tackled. The EU will continue its support to transform education worldwide, not least through Global Gateway investments. It will help to improve young people’s access to economic opportunities, strengthening young people’s capacity to contribute to sustainable development and drive the green and digital transitions across the world. The EU will also support young people’s health, mental and physical well-being, and access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. We will continue paying particular attention to children and young people living in conflict settings.
A large number of EU programmes contribute to the social and economic empowerment of young people. A clear example is the EU's leading role in education. The EU is committed to invest at least 10% of the overall funding of Global Europe - the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument in education in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific. A total of 80 EU Delegations in partner countries have education as a priority. The commitment is also valid for education in emergencies and protracted crisis, with an allocation of 10% of EU humanitarian aid funding.
The new pilot initiative, the Youth Empowerment Fund worth €10 million, will provide direct financial support to youth-led initiatives in partner countries focusing on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at local level.
Partnership to connect
The EU aims to promote youth mobility, exchanges and networking as an essential aspect of the people-to-people dimension of the Global Gateway strategy. The goal is to ensure diversity and inclusiveness, while paying special attention to social and economic barriers, the digital divide and risks related to disinformation.
The new Africa-Europe Youth Academy will channel financial support of €50 million to formal and informal learning opportunities and exchanges for young people willing to improve their leadership skills and create networks of change-makers in Africa.