Happy Birthday Council of Europe …………

The Council of Europe (CoE) is in a political crisis that is also creating a financial problem; and of course money you do not have, you cannot spend. In this case the proposal is to end the financing of the Organisation’s youth sector activities. It is logical that the organisations involved are not happy with this and are fiercely protesting.

Even though the CoE is not in a position to tell their member organisations what to do, working mainly with the political instrument of “Recommendations”, it is still amazing what kind of positive influence they have had on the development of Europe for the last 70 years. Within this context youth organisations and youth work has always had a very special role.

The healing process in the Balkans, the coming together between east and west, and campaigns like “All different, all equal” or  “No hate speech”, are just a few examples that highlight the significance of the important role of the CoE in bringing the peoples of Europe together.

At its heart the CoE is all about values, human rights, democracy and equality; young people and youth work continue to play a crucially positive role in this. To end the CoE involvement in providing a European platform for the voices of young people would be contrary to the very principles that underpin the CoE. The legacy of such short-term thinking, cutting the youth budget, would cause significant harm to the CoE’s reputation with young people and those who work with them; the CoE’s relevance to young people would rapidly diminish and perhaps become irrelevant. Right across Europe young people are in the vanguard of citizen action; the climate change debate is an excellent example of young people’s social action. Young people will continue to find their way to create (or co-create which is/was a big thing in the CoE) their common future.

Whilst ending the financing of the Organisation’s youth sector is a real problem for those involved, it also represents a significant existential threat for the CoE itself since, in the long run, it will cause questions to the CoE’s “raison d’être”.

Karin Peham Strauß (President)
Pauline Grace (Vice-President)