AEGEE position – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.11 Position paper on Education /position-paper-on-education/ Thu, 13 Nov 2014 09:58:08 +0000 /?p=5557 Introduction

AEGEE-Europe is belonging to the group of European students’ non-governmental organisations. It represents 13 000 students in 40 countries in Europe. Its members are young people that are involved in the higher education institutions and therefore are the main beneficiaries of the education systems in Europe. AEGEE together with its members strives for equal and quality education in Europe that does not set additional barriers for students to study and cares about students’ educational needs. Therefore, it is relevant for AEGEE to take a position about higher education in Europe in order to bring student perspective to its advocacy processes. This position of AEGEE-Europe covers three areas of international aspect of higher education in Europe. First, existence of European mobility programmes for students and their perspective on them. Second, the implementation of the Bologna process in various parts of Europe. Third, the role of international youth organisations in higher education. These three fields are influencing members of AEGEE-Europe in their everyday student lives. It is, thus, of high importance to present their opinion about these topics. Moreover, AEGEE developed many successful higher education projects in the past and had an experience of tackling the topic of education and mobility[1]. This position is based on an internal survey of AEGEE-Europe. It was launched at the beginning of September 2014 and every AEGEE member had an opportunity to contribute to it. Altogether, there were 168 valid answers. Average age of respondents was 23.4 years and average mark given to the importance of education was 4.6[2]. Moreover, 47 % of respondents claimed that they have conducted their studies in at least two countries. The survey consisted of combination of closed and open questions. Simple statistics and content analysis were used as methodological tools during data analysis of the responses. Based on the survey results from AEGEE members, we drafted three recommendations related to European mobility programmes, the Bologna process and the role of youth organisations in Higher Education. These recommendations serve as a basis for advocacy work of AEGEE in the field of Education once they are approved by the General Assembly of AEGEE-Europe.

Context

The emphasis on ‘a knowledge-based economy’ presented in the Strategy of Lisbon[3] gives the education policy a big role to play in order to achieve global competitiveness and Education has been heavily promoted as a means to prevent the growing unemployment as a result of the present financial and economic crisis. Those different elements have characterised the development of a European agenda for education policy and the Education and Training 2020 strategy, which has as one of its objectives to “make lifelong learning and mobility a reality”[4]. With the signing of the Bologna Declaration in 1999, both EU and non-EU Member States committed themselves to coordinate education policies and pursue specific common objectives. They aimed at creating a European Area of Higher Education, in which the diversity of the Education system is conserved, but tools are implemented to ease the recognition of diplomas/qualifications between countries. AEGEE welcomes the improvements which have already been implemented, but regrets that some barriers remain. It is important to ensure mobility in the frame of the studies to be enjoyed fully by all young Europeans. Implementation of the Bologna process has gone further. The creation and implementation of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) changed the face of higher education in Europe. Last EHEA Ministerial Conference, organised in Bucharest in 2002, set clear goals to be achieved – widening access to higher education, quality assurance, and recognition of foreign degrees together with student-oriented perspective[5]. It is true that in the past years, the mobility experience through the academic cursus has become an increasingly valued element in the students’ path. Several studies carried out by youth organisations and completed by EU publications, stress the positive impact of mobility in terms of skills development, both on personal and professional level. Moreover, AEGEE recently carried out a research called Erasmus Voting Assessment that proves that the experience of Erasmus students living in another EU country has a positive impact on the voting behaviour of young people in European elections. The new EU mobility programme Erasmus+ will undoubtedly enable a growing number of young students to carry out part of their studies in another EU country, and we welcome the 19 billion Euros budget allocated, and the objective of 3 million higher education and vocational training students to enjoy mobility programmes.

Data analysis

Since the survey covered three topics of the international dimension of higher education in Europe, the structure of the analysis follows the same line.

Topic: Mobility programmes in Europe

According to results of the survey, AEGEE members are aware of the Erasmus mobility programme (the number is close to 98 %). As a second comes Leonardo da Vinci mobility programme with 57 % of respondents being aware of the programme. Other mobility programmes like Comenius, Grundtvig, Jean Monnet or CEEPUS are recognised by less than 30 % of AEGEE members. 58 % of respondents feel to be personally encouraged to go on mobility programme by their home university in comparison with 31 % that do not. And when it comes to information about different mobility programmes, 61 % of respondents are feeling informed about their possibilities in comparison with 34 % that do not. Most of the information AEGEE members get from their friends (51 %). As a second comes information channel from university office (43 %) and then information from students NGOs (36 %). 43 % of respondents participated in mobility programmes, majority of them through the Erasmus programme (56 out of 72 respondents). Main purpose of the mobility was mostly study exchange. 70 % of the cases got their academic work recognised by their home university, but 30 % did not. In 90 % of cases there was a Learning agreement or other learning objectives signed before the mobility took place. A slight majority of respondents (55 %) found it easy to access the mobility programmes in comparison with 42 % that did not. Among the challenges for accessing mobility programmes, academic, administrational and financial obstacles were equally represented (about 25 % of responses). That means that AEGEE members find it hard to access mobility because of insufficient recognition of credits, slow processes of signing a Learning Agreement, too much paperwork before mobility, insufficient financial support and/or late payments. AEGEE members emphasise problems with communication between students and their universities or students and teachers about mobility programmes, recognition of credits, bureaucratic processes and lack of options to go on mobility.

Topic: Bologna Process

75 % of respondents are aware of the Bologna process and a majority of them claim that their universities are implementing the scheme of bachelor – master – doctoral degree. However, a slight majority of respondents (57 %) consider the Bologna process as a positive development, while 20 % of the respondents have a negative opinion and 23 % have a neutral one[6].

Topic: Role of international youth organisations in higher education

AEGEE locals as international youth organisations are cooperating with universities in 66 % of the cases and only 12 % is not. In two third of the cases, AEGEE members use skills which they acquired in AEGEE during their studies at higher educational institutions. Only 9 % claim otherwise. 26 % of respondents claim that they have the opportunity to get ECTS[7] credits outside of their formal education. Those who do not have this opportunity or do not know about it make up 57 % of the respondents. On the other hand, 57 % of the respondents would argue that their skills learnt in international youth organisation should be recognised by Higher Education institutions. Only 17 % of respondents would not argue so.

Recommendations

Topic: Mobility programmes in Europe

  1. Improve communication about mobility programmes at universities

Almost 50% of the respondents say that they have heard about a mobility programme through friends. This answer sheds light on the importance of the peer group in the level of information, and can raise concerns regarding the information level of young people with fewer opportunities, who might not benefit from this peer influence. Therefore, we recommend the European Commission, and especially the information providers (such as Eurodesk, European Youth Portal), but also the Higher Education Institutions, to increase the promotion of all existing mobility schemes, to provide students with all the information needed to make choices regarding their studying path.

  1. Increase recognition of academic work after mobility took place

The successful implementation of the ECTS has drastically facilitated learner mobility, making it possible to transfer and recognise credits gained in another institution. The Erasmus scheme has brought huge improvements in terms of automatic recognition, thanks to the recognition tools such as the Learning Agreement, the Transcript of Records together with the Recognition Document in the case of mobility for studies. However, the current situation is still far from perfect. This can be done by strengthening the cooperation between universities and full implementation of ECTS credit framework throughout European Higher Education institutions.

  1. Equal access to mobility programmes

Equal opportunities to access mobility programmes is not a reality  so far. Different funding schemes dependent on national contexts create additional barriers for inclusion of some young people who are not able to cover the costs of their mobility. AEGEE believes that all EU regions should provide a minimum of additional support to students, taking into account not only their social situation, but also the country in which they will carry out their studies. Additionally, AEGEE with its membership also outside the European Union strongly supports the opening of mobility programmes to non-EU citizens. Our members outside the borders of the EU face even more exclusion, only on the arbitrary basis of their origin and nationality.

Topic: Bologna Process

  1. Improve the implementation of Bologna process

AEGEE welcomes the idea of creating a common European Higher Education Area. On the other hand, there is still room for improvement. Regarding implementation of Bologna process AEGEE urges to fully implement the three-cycle (bachelor – master – doctoral) of studies and the ECTS framework in . These aspects are still not fully implemented, as our members pointed out in the survey, and therefore they pose obstacles to student mobility in Europe. Moreover, AEGEE advocates for a stronger link between the European Quality Assurance Register (EQAR) and the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area. EQAR was introduced in 2012 and still does not cover all countries participating in the Bologna Process[8]. Having the same quality indicators of higher education institutions are very important for the completion of EHEA. Last but not least, student participation in the institutional governance of universities needs to be improved. AEGEE welcomes the inclusion of student stakeholders in the process of the Bologna process implementation. What is missing, however, is a stronger emphasis on including students in the institutional matters of their home universities. Students should have a stronger say in the financial issues and staff policies of their universities. This is not the case all around EHEA.

Topic: Role of international youth organisations in higher education

  1. Strengthen the link between international youth organisations and higher education institutions

AEGEE believes that the involvement of students in youth organisations has a very positive impact on the students’ success in Higher Education. Indeed, apart from the skills that young people develop and can use in their studies[9], youth organisations’ involvement also tends to develop attitudes such as persistence, flexibility as well as creativity, which also help students within the frame of their studies. Therefore, AEGEE asks Higher Education Institutions to cooperate further with students’ organisations, and to acknowledge their positive role on the students’ development, through additional support, funding and ECTS credits recognition.

  1. Increase the possibility to get ECTS credits outside of formal education

AEGEE strongly believes in the principles of Lifelong Learning and wants to emphasise the important role of civil society when it comes to designing and implementing lifelong learning strategies.  Moreover, as mentioned in the Communication from the European Commission  ‘Rethinking Education’[10],  AEGEE agrees that flexible learning pathways need to be recognised, namely that the Higher Education Institutions are not the only space where young people can acquire knowledge and competences, and that it is important to better recognise Learning outside Formal Education.

About AEGEE

AEGEE (Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe) is one of Europe’s biggest interdisciplinary student organisations. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines. Founded in 1985 in Paris, today AEGEE has grown to a Network of 13000 friends, present in 200 cities in 40 countries all over Europe. AEGEE puts the idea of a unified Europe into practice. Operating without a national level, AEGEE brings 13000 students directly in touch with each other.  


[1] For example projects like Euducation for Democracy or EURECA or recently Erasmus Voting Assessment.
[2] Mark 5 was the highest one.
[3] European Commission. Accessed on October 15, 2014. Online http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/europe-2020-in-a-nutshell/targets/index_en.htm
[4] European Commission. Accessed on 13.10.2014, Online http://ec.europa.eu/education/policy/strategic-framework/index_en.htm
[5] EHEA Bucharest Communique 2002. Accessed on 13.10.2014. Online http://www.ehea.info/Uploads/(1)/Bucharest%20Communique%202012(1).pdf
[6] This data was analysed by content analysis where positive feelings were linked with words “like”, “good”, “useful” or “support”, negative feelings with words like “don’t like”, “useless” or “bad” and neutral feelings were assigned to responses that did not contain any of these normative words.
[7] European Credit Transfer System.
[8] Bologna Process Implementation Report. 2012. Accessed on 14.10.2014. Online http://www.ehea.info/Uploads/(1)/Bologna%20Process%20Implementation%20Report.pdf
[9] Such as presentation skills, teamwork, time management or communication skills.
[10] European Commission. Accessed on 13.10.2014. Online http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52012DC0669&from=EN

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Position Paper on Single Seat of the European Parliament /position-paper-on-single-seat-of-the-european-parliament/ Mon, 01 Sep 2014 07:43:09 +0000 /?p=5506

Introduction

European elections are taking place in May 2014 and with a fresh Parliament on the horizon, we see this as the perfect time to put a stop to the European Parliament’s travelling circus. The European Parliament (EP) works mainly from Brussels, but for fewer than 50 days a year the Parliament moves to its official seat in Strasbourg to vote. This dual seat, in combination with keeping half its administrative staff in Luxembourg, costs an extra €180 million and 19,000 tonnes of CO2 each year[1].

In current times of economic hardship and global warming, these budgetary and environmental costs are no longer justifiable.

History

When the European Community for Steel and Coal (ECSC) was founded in 1951 it had two seats, one in Strasbourg and one in Luxemburg[2]. The city of Strasbourg has a special meaning, as it was the place where Germany and France met. This is important, since one of the underlying political objectives of the ECSC was to strengthen Franco-German solidarity and cooperation — and thus avoid a new war.

With the Treaty of Rome (1957)[3] the common market was introduced and this enlargement of the cooperation meant there was need for more space for the European institutions. The city of Brussels was appointed as the new capital of the European Union, but the Secretariat-General of the Parliament and the Court of Justice remained in Luxemburg, and the Parliament itself kept its seat in Strasbourg.

At that time the EP consisted of a handful of non-elected representatives of governments, and it had only a fraction of its current influence and responsibilities. Now, it has co-decision power in most areas of legislation and its daily work is done in Brussels, in close contact with other European institutions and civil society organisations. However, MEPs still move to Strasbourg 12 times a year to vote.

Since 2007, 1.27 million citizens have signed a petition[4] demanding that the European Parliament should have a Single Seat in Brussels. Unfortunately, the distribution of official seats of the European institutions is written down in the EU Treaty[5], which means the Parliament does not have the power to decide where it meets. It can, however, under the Lisbon Treaty[6], formally propose Treaty changes to Member State governments — which is what it did with the Single Seat campaign in 2013[7].

The European Parliament clearly agrees with the concerns of these 1.27 million citizens, adopting in 2013 —with a supermajority of 78 percent[8] — a motion stating it wishes to be able to decide when and where it will officially meet. So now it is up to the Commission to decide whether or not to put this motion to the Parliament and the Council, who can then decide on this change to the Treaty.

Position of AEGEE-Europe

We have no preference as to where the European Parliament seats. We do however understand the Parliament itself has shown a preference for Brussels, due to the effectiveness of working close to the other European bodies and institutions, as well as the representatives of civil society and the media.

Also, although we realise the importance of the reasons why the European Parliament was officially seated in Strasbourg, we believe that with the ascension of 22 new Member States since the creation of the ECSC, the importance of a seat in Strasbourg has become mainly historical and does not weigh up to the resources spent on moving the Parliament back and forth.

Therefore, we as AEGEE, share the concerns of European citizens considering the high costs of forcing the European Parliament to maintain its two seats. We also believe the Parliament itself should decide, taking into account both practical issues as well as historical ones, where it wishes to convene. We therefore urge the Commission to initiate the procedure for a Treaty change, giving the European Parliament the right to determine its own seat.

About AEGEE

AEGEE/European Students’ Forum was born 29 years ago with the vision of creating a unified Europe, based on democracy and respect for human rights, bringing together students with different cultural backgrounds. Today, AEGEE is Europe’s largest interdisciplinary student organisation: 40 countries, 200 cities, 13 000 friends.

This network provides the ideal platform for young volunteers to work together on cross-border activities such as international conferences, seminars, exchanges, training courses, and case study trips. In line with the challenges young people are currently facing in Europe, AEGEE’s work is focused on three main areas: promotion of youth participation, development of European relations with its neighbours, and inclusion of minorities.

 


[1] Joint Working Group of the Bureau and the Committee on Budgets on the European Parliament budget, Annex 2: http://singleseat.eu/10.html

[5] Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Protocol no. 6, On the location of the seats of the institutions and of certain bodies, offices, agencies and departments of the European Union: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/index.htm

[6] Treaty of Lisbon, Title III, Provisions on the Institutions, Article 9: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2007:306:FULL:EN:PDF

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Position Paper on the EU Eastern Partnership Programme /position-paper-on-the-eu-eastern-partnership-programme/ Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:02:38 +0000 /?p=5471

BACKGROUND

The Eastern Partnership (hereinafter “EaP”) Prague Summit in May 2009 launched a strategic and ambitious EaP Programme as a specific dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy. In 2013, the European Union evaluated the achievements of its European Neighbourhood Policy and, more specifically, the level of cooperation with its Eastern neighbours.

Within the last 4-5 years, most participating countries in the EaP Programme (includes – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) have successfully implemented a number of required reforms at home and abroad (i.e. improvements to domestic democratic processes, international economic cooperation agreements, and thoroughly negotiated and signed Association Agreements).([1]) To that end, the EaP Programme has introduced a new kind of Association Agreement that encompasses the following key elements: Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with countries willing and able to enter into such an engagement, gradual integration in the European Union (EU) economy, easier travel to the EU through visa liberalization, and sophisticated measures to tackle illegal immigration.

The negotiated Association Agreements for EaP countries (Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) have addressed numerous issues including political close association with the EU, political reforms, dialogue and cooperation on foreign and security policy issues, and economic cooperation and trade. As a consequence, these agreements have encouraged cooperation in the fields of migration, rule of law, human rights, fight against crime and corruption, protection of personal data, and cooperation against trafficking and terrorism. However, they do not guarantee nor envision EU membership for EaP countries. Nevertheless, the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (hereinafter “DCFTA”) is a part of the negotiated agreements that affords EaP countries the opportunity to develop European-oriented functioning national economies, which would enable them to overcome considerable financial difficulties (insofar as they are focused on market competition, technical barriers for implementation of free trade, intellectual property rights, export duties and restrictions, and sanitary and/or phytosanitary measures).

The EU-EaP Vilnius Summit was a landmark event in the context of the EaP Programme, insofar as it dispelled any myths that Association Agreements and DCFTAs are secret documents that are unavailable and withheld from the public. Ultimately, the Vilnius Summit had mixed results: while Georgia and Moldova initialed and signed Association Agreements and DCFTAs with the EU, Ukraine and Armenia did not sign or initial agreements of their own due to political reasons and newly undertaken international commitments towards the third parties. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan signed the Visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU, thus breathing new life into the visa dialogue between the two sides. However, the EU gained better knowledge and experience about how to approach each partner country after the Vilnius Summit.

The EaP Programme is a policy that seeks to create opportunities for everyone. In terms of the principle of conditionality (i.e. “More for more – and less for less”), we can reasonably argue that Eastern partners take into consideration the progress which the respective partner countries have achieved, thus: the more they are reforming – the more assistance they will receive from available European institutions. In this sense, the EaP Programme is grounded in political association based on the notion of shared European values and principles, not to mention the commitment of the Eastern neighbours to enroot those values in their own domestic political affairs and act in the spirit of the principle “more for more.”

AEGEE-EUROPE AND THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME

Through our experience in a large European students’ network, we have seen how unequally educational/work /social opportunities are distributed among young people in the eastern and western parts of European continent. AEGEE-Europe is deeply convinced that ensuring equal opportunities for young people all over Europe will be beneficial for the continent at large. In support of the ongoing EaP Programme, AEGEE-Europe established the AEGEE EaP Project in 2011, as a mean of improving the knowledge of EU Member States and the EaP Programme States citizens about the existing challenges and visions of further European integration.

The AEGEE EaP project takes into account the principles of the EaP Programme and adds a youth perspective to it. We perceive a huge need for intercultural youth exchange in order to develop active citizenship and democratic participation in an integrated and developing Europe. When trying to establish a partnership of equal states and equal peoples, as it is the goal of the European Union and the EaP Programme, one significant need is to learn about each other’s perspectives for a shared future, to define common values on which this future can be built, and, at base, to get to know each other and become familiar with the political and social landscape in neighbouring countries.

As a pan-European organisation, the members of the AEGEE EaP Project stand in solidarity from a multitude of perspectives, building and strengthening a common European identity. This diversity of perspective has allowed us to develop the AEGEE EaP Project in a way that meets the needs of young people from all over Europe.

AEGEE-EUROPE RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME

EU Should Ensure the Sustainability of Ongoing Reforms in EaP Countries:

Within the last four years, various reforms and EU funded projects have been launched and implemented in all EaP Countries. However, the sustainability of all implemented programs and reforms should be considered as a high priority for the EU in a long term strategy. The sustainable and visible results of these projects may eventually encourage greater multilateral dialogue and integration of EaP countries with the EU. Taking into account the variety of ongoing EU funded programmes in all EaP countries, AEGEE-Europe recommends that the European Commission ensures the sustainability of the reforms, calls upon the European Council and EU Member States to take further actions in this direction.

EU and EaP Individual Partners Should Boost Visa Liberalization Talks:

AEGEE-Europe stands for a democratic, diverse and borderless Europe that is socially, economically and politically integrated, and values the participation of young people in its construction and development. The young people and youth workers are increasingly mobile across Europe. Most of the EaP countries have already successfully finalized and begun to implement provisions of the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements with the EU. However, even in “facilitated conditions,” the existing visa regimes are a huge obstacle to the mobility of young people. In this regard, AEGEE-Europe once again strongly encourages the European Commission and the Schengen Area Countries Authorities to develop certain and unified successful, tested model of online visa application schemes, and to establish shared one-window mechanisms for registering, applying, submitting and receiving Schengen visas, thus avoiding any possible situation in which young people’s, students, volunteers and/or workers’ right to mobility may be threatened.

As it has been mentioned in the Final Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum in Kaunas (October 22nd -25th, 2013), the support for young people’s mobility needs to happen  at every level as well as continued negotiations on the abolishment of visa requirements for young people, especially from EaP countries.([2])

In accordance with Focus Area 3 of Strategic Plan 2014-2017 of AEGEE-Europe ([3]), Visa liberalisation remains a shared objective of individual EaP partner countries and the EU alike in furtherance of “people to people” contacts.

AEGEE-Europe strongly recommends that the national authorities of individual EaP partner countries take constructive and feasible steps to provide grounds for well-managed, organised and secure mobility, thus advancing the ambitious Visa Liberalisations Action Plans with the EU.

EaP Individual Partner Countries Should Undertake Individual Reforms in the Judiciary:

AEGEE-Europe strongly encourages and calls on all EaP individual partner countries to make further steps in strengthening democracy, and guaranteeing respect for human rights and rule of law. We suggest that they take these steps by reforming their judiciaries and strengthening just law enforcement at home, thus excluding any possibility of prosecution based on political views, religion, and gender. We deeply regret any arrest or acquisition based on the political activities of EaP partner countries’ citizens, even if their views contradict to the respective government’s official platform.

These views are reinforced by the Joint Declaration of the Third Eastern Partnership Summit (organised in Vilnius on November 28th-29th, 2013), which highlights the continued need for human rights work in Eastern Partnership countries.([4])

Enhanced Focus on the Role of Civil Society and Youth

The participants of the Vilnius Summit recognize the valuable role of civil society within the Eastern Partnership Programme, insofar as civil society constitutes an integral element of a well-functioning democracy. As a full member of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (hereinafter EaP CSF) since 2011, AEGEE-Europe would like to highlight the contribution and impact of the EaP CSF in the promotion of democracy, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and guarantee of cross-border cooperation throughout the Eastern Partnership region. The establishment of the permanent secretariat of the EaP Civil Society Forum ([5]) and support provided within the framework of the Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility ([6]) are other welcome steps towards more structural engagement of the civil society in the process of the European integration of the Eastern neighbours. AEGEE-Europe deeply believes in the further strengthening of the EaP CSF National Platforms ([7]). In this regard, AEGEE-Europe deeply encourages the EU Delegations in all EaP countries to set up and intensively promote special tools, such as the Civil Society Dialogue website of the EU Delegation in Armenia ([8]), aimed at providing civil society actors with the opportunity to exchange their views on a number of issues relevant to the future development of EU-EaP relations.

AEGEE-Europe deeply encourages further involvement of representatives of youth organisations in the Civil Society Forum (CSF) Multilateral Platform meetings. We gladly welcome the launch of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum which took place in Kaunas on October 22nd-25th in 2013. We intend to support the further EU-EaP youth side events. We recommend that the EU and the EaP individual partners increase dialogue with youth organisations and make the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum an annual event. In so doing, they would give participating individuals and organisations space to share alternative views of the work, direction and goals of the Eastern Partnership. A strong and consolidated youth presence will powerfully promote civic activism and “Europtimism” in the EaP region.

EaP Individual Partner Countries Should Promote the Recognition of Youth Work:

As it has been mentioned in the Final Joint Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Youth Forum in Kaunas, “the further development of youth worker competencies are needed in order to reach out to and involve minority groups in ways that other sectors can not. More specifically, youth workers need support and training in inclusion, diversity, participatory approaches, citizenship, democratic processes and human rights education. They should be empowered to identify and react to the needs of young people and the communities they work in. Training courses, competency recognition and qualification processes need to be developed and implemented. Quality inclusion youth work practices contribute to the recognition of youth work.”([9]) Accordingly, we recommend that EaP individual partner countries’ national authorities adopt long term strategies that will be responsive to the needs of young people and youth workers of the specific EaP country.

Further EU-EaP Cooperation in the Field of Education:

In the fields of higher education and non-formal education, AEGEE-Europe encourages the EU to support and/or implement well-based promotional campaign in the EaP partner countries on  promote the new “Erasmus+” programme, thus giving young people and students the opportunity to get acquainted with new procedures and possibilities affiliated with the programme. It is our belief that the opportunities afforded by “Erasmus+” will enable EaP individual partner countries to tackle issues such as youth employability and active participation in democratic life.

Greater Focus on the Civic Education of the EaP Countries

In compliance with the Focus Area 4 of Strategic Plan 2014-2017 of AEGEE-Europe ([10]), we encourage all relevant stakeholders of the EaP individual partner countries national authorities to pay special attention to the matters related to the civic education of students and young people. Civic education addresses knowledge, skills and attitudes in fields such as human rights, democratic participation, intercultural communication and sustainability. AEGEE-Europe contributes to the development of responsible citizens through non-formal educational programming, but we need to include such competences in the educational curricula of all European countries in order to have a lasting and meaningful impact.

AEGEE-EUROPE: ABOUT US

AEGEE-Europe was established 29 years ago with the vision of creating a unified Europe, grounded in democracy and respect for human rights, by bringing together students with diverse cultural backgrounds. Today, AEGEE-Europe is Europe’s largest interdisciplinary youth organisation, which includes 40 countries, 200 cities and more than 13,000 members. AEGEE-Europe enjoys participatory status in the activities of the Council of Europe, consultative status at the United Nations, operational status at UNESCO and membership in the European Youth Forum. On various occasions, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso, Mr. Martin Schulz, Mr. Stefan Fuele and Baroness Catherine Ashton have expressed their support of AEGEE-Europe activities and have given their patronage to several pan-European initiatives of the Association in the Eastern Partnership region.

 


[7] Since mid-2011 EaP Civil Society National Platforms have been established in all six Partner countries. National Platforms are valuable tools that facilitate the achievement of the goals of the Eastern Partnership in each of the respective EaP countries. They were created for the purpose of ensuring active involvement of each partner-country’s civil society in cooperation with national authorities, offering recommendations for successful implementation of EaP projects, establishing stable relations with European civil society organisations, and facilitation of communication with EU institutions at the central and local level.

[8] Please see  http://www.eu-cso.am/

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