News archive - [Event Announcement] "Connecting Youth - Moving Forward": EU - Western Balkans Forum on Youth

The European Commission and the Government of the Italian Republic, supported by the European Youth Forum and SALTO SEE Resource Centre, organise a Western Balkans Forum on Youth "Connecting Youth – Moving Forward" in the framework of the WB Summit.


The Positive Agenda for the Youth in the Western Balkans, which was created at the Brdo Summit in Slovenia in April 2015, introduced the youth dimension to the Western Balkans Berlin Process. The following year a Youth Conference was organised back-to-back to the Western Balkan Summit in Paris on 4 July 2016. There 150 young people from the Western Balkans and the EU Member States met to discuss education, mobility, employment, entrepreneurship, youth engagement, participation, and media. Consequently, a follow-up conference was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia at the end of September 2016, and the Action Plan for Youth Work and Youth Policy was developed.

Following the success of the previous conferences, it is crucial to make the work to date more concrete. We are therefore delighted to announce a forum on youth again this year, alongside the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste on 11 and 12 July.

"Connecting Youth – Moving Forward" will bring together 60 young people from the EU and Western Balkans countries, to discuss common challenges and work towards finding joint solutions.


"Connecting Youth – Moving Forward" aims to build on previous discussions among young people, youth workers, youth leaders and other relevant stakeholders involved in youth policy and further stimulate youth presence in the Western Balkans. The conference will stress the importance of youth to the European integration process.

The forum will focus the discussion around four key themes identified as a priority in the region: 1) Mobility/ Exchanges/ Broadening of Horizons ; 2) Social Inclusion/ Overcoming of Stereotypes; 3) Entrepreneurship and 4)Youth Participation.

Debate will feed into the existing agenda of the WB6 Summit by passing on the main conclusions.

Participants will join forces in 4 parallel groups working on the following topics:

1) Mobility/ Exchanges/ Broadening of Horizons

Mobility is an important theme for the Western Balkan region because mobility improves the skill sets of young people, brings young people together, increases cultural understanding and facilitates exchange of best practices to tackle the common challenges young people are facing. The discussion will explore ways to increase access for everyone to various mobility opportunities and to remove obstacles for participation.

Questions to be tackled here include:
• how to reach young people with fewer opportunities?
• how to guarantee a fair share of participation?
• how to broaden the horizon for young persons?

2) Social Inclusion/ Overcoming of Stereotypes

Inclusion of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups is another important aspect of youth empowerment in the region. Young people with fewer opportunities have less social networks, are less active in political life and are more likely to be unemployed than others. These divides threaten to undermine the social fabric and sustainable long-term economic growth (see EU Youth Report 2015) . All young people deserve fair and equal treatment, but this demands long-term investments. We should decrease the number of socially excluded young people and promote equal chances for personal development and active participation in society.

Questions to be tackled here include:
• how to promote inclusion?
• how to familiarise policy makers and practitioners with the concept of social inclusion?
• how to remove obstacles to inclusion?
• how to avoid alienation from mainstream society and its values?
• should there be limits on freedom of speech?

3) Entrepreneurship

Another important aspect for youth employability in the Western Balkans is developing an entrepreneurship mind-set. This can boost competitiveness, employment and create jobs especially for young people.

Questions to be tackled here include:
• how to instigate an entrepreneurial mind-set among young people in the Western Balkans?
• how to develop and implement policies that promote youth entrepreneurship?
• how to improve their business and digital skills through hands-on education and training?
• how to improve the impact of youth networks.

4) Youth Participation

Young people are often referred to as the “future generation”, a role where they are often pushed back to by education and political institutions. However they are also actors of today’s democracy.

At the same time, a wide range of recent studies have shown that voting turnout, membership in political parties, interest in politics and trust in political institutions show a decline especially among young people. There is a growing belief among young people that the formal political structures aren’t working. When voting doesn’t seem to change anything, casting a ballot feels ineffective and disempowering.

Faced with a political system that doesn’t respond or reflect them, young people are trapped in a vicious circle of disengagement. When young people don’t vote, politicians feel they can be ignored, and policy reflects this. Our exclusion from decision-making rises, and the legitimacy of our democracy is undermined.

Questions to be tackled here include:
• Are young people more disengaged than previous generations and if so, why?
• How do we make our political and societal decision-making structures more inclusive to young people?
• How do we empower young people to become more active citizens?

More information about the background activities related to this activity can be found here:


• Members of youth or student organisations will be favoured during the selection process.
• Applicants who participated in previous conferences (Paris, Ljubljana) will be favoured during the selection process.

!!! IMPORTANT: Participants coming from member organisations of the European Youth Forum will be selected by the European Youth Forum. If your organisation is a member of the EYF, please apply for this activity at this link on the EYF website:

For source and further information, please visit SALTO-YOUTH website

Geographical focus
  • Europe
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Giorgio Piccirillo on June 1, 2017
Modified on June 1, 2017