Europe- Western Balkans Youth Meeting "Connecting Youth Work and Youth Policy" - youth participation, civic engagement, youth mobility

Event date
September 25-29, 2016
Short description

The Europe-Western Balkans Youth Meeting "Connecting Youth Work and Youth Policy" aims at following-up the recommendations of the Western Balkans Youth Conference “Connecting Youth” (Paris, 4th July 2016) in the field of youth work and youth policy.


45 participants - mainly youth workers and youth leaders with relevant motivation and experience, coming from Erasmus+ Programme countries and Partner countries in the Western Balkan region , as well as stakeholders from other relevant organisations, institutions and policy makers are invited to discuss and define an Action Plan promoting in particular youth participation, civic engagement and youth mobility.


A European perspective and the gradual integration into the European Union have been a key element of the political and economic development in all candidate and potential candidate countries for over a decade.
In recent years, however, the economic crisis in Europe has lead to decreased support for European enlargement in EU member states, while in the countries of the Balkan region scepticism of Europe has been growing. In the Balkans, peaceful co-existence and tolerance between different ethnic groups as well as acceptance of the existing borders have remained fragile. Moreover, against the background of relative economic stagnation, the refugee situation in Europe has triggered increasing national extremism, right-wing populism and democratic instability in the EU as well as the Balkan region.
As a response, the "Berlin Process", which started with the Berlin conference of 2014, has set out to foster stability and security through stronger links with and support for the Western Balkan region. In the youth field, the process is framed by the "Positive Agenda for Youth", initiated at the Brdo Summit of 2015 and reconfirmed by the Vienna Summit in 2015. The Western Balkans Youth Conference "Connecting Youth" in Paris on 4th July 2016, which preceded the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Western Balkans and some EU Member states on the same day, concluded with further recommendations for youth.
The Erasmus+ Programme (2014 – 2020) has provided support for cooperation in the youth field between partners from Europe and the Western Balkans, for regional cooperation (Western Balkans, Danube region etc.) as well as capacity building for European youth work development on a variety of topics - and including cooperation with other sectors - for over a decade.


The Europe-Western Balkans Youth Meeting “Connecting Youth Work and Youth Policy" wants to stimulate discussion among youth workers, youth leaders and other stakeholders in youth work and youth policy against the background of the current initiatives and discussions related to Europe and European integration. The Meeting should focus on the contribution of youth work to support European integration and especially to promote youth participation, civic engagement and youth mobility.
As a follow up event to the Western Balkans Youth Conference “Connecting Youth” conference in Paris, the Europe-Western Balkans Youth Meeting aims to encourage in-depth discussion of topics addressed in Paris and to propose a concrete an Action Plan for youth work and youth policy.

The concrete objectives of the Meeting are:

• To share how the participants and the young people they work with perceive Europe: What are their expectations, hopes and doubts, and what consequences does this have for youth work;
• To explore the role of youth work and especially international youth work and international youth mobility in promoting youth participation and civic engagement with a perspective of fostering European integration;
• To discuss what youth work and youth policy can do to reach out to young people, especially those with fewer opportunities, to promote social inclusion and employability and to counter marginalisation which could possibly lead to radicalisation and extremism;
• To identify needs for capacity building and policy measures to be initiated and developed in order to better equip youth workers and youth organisations for this role;
• To define how the impact of existing programmes supporting European and regional youth cooperation could be strengthened;
• To develop an Action Plan with concrete steps for follow-up at different levels after the meeting.

The following recommendations from the Western Balkans Youth Conference “Connecting Youth” with a priority for youth work and non-formal learning will be emphasised in the discussion:
• Strengthening civic education in non-formal education settings;
• Fostering youth entrepreneurship in non-formal learning;
• Encouraging active participation of young people in policy design;
• Developing media literacy through youth work;
• Enhancing promotion of and accessibility to existing programmes;
• Establishing closer links between formal and non-formal education.


The meeting wants to create a space for taking stock of and sharing the participants’ expertise, experiences and good practices related to the above-listed topics. Inputs by participants and additionally invited experts are planned to provide “food for thought” and stimulate reflection.
The aim is to draft an Action Plan building on the recommendations of the Western Balkans “Connecting Youth” conference. We want to identify concrete needs as well as steps that should be taken to address them, by policy makers, relevant institutions and programmes (European Commission, Erasmus+ etc.) and by the youth work sector itself. The meeting will also give visibility to already existing initiatives.
The perspective is to create a platform for Europe-Western Balkans youth dialogue – Connecting youth work and youth policy, e.g. through regular meetings. Those could have different formats and focus on different topics of relevance.


Geographical focus
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • General
Event type
  • Conference WBs

Entry created by Anna Sirocco on August 1, 2016
Modified on August 1, 2016