The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe is inviting one young person per member State to come to Strasbourg to take an active part in its 32nd and 33rd sessions and develop their own grass-roots project back home as part of the Congress’ initiative “Rejuvenating politics”.
The Council of Europe and young people
The Council of Europe wants to encourage more young people to get actively involved in strengthening civil society in Europe and to defend the values of human rights, cultural diversity and social cohesion. It also wants to promote and develop youth policies, putting special emphasis on the participation of young people.
The Council of Europe's commitment to fostering greater youth participation can be demonstrated through its system of co-management. This involves representatives from youth non-governmental organisations (NGOs) sitting down in committees with government officials who together then work out the priorities for the youth sector and make recommendations for future budgets and programmes. One of the decision-making structures it has set up is the Advisory Council on Youth which is made up of 30 representatives from youth NGOs and networks who provide opinions and input on all youth sector activities.
The Congress and youth participation
In view of the apparent disengagement of young people from conventional political participation in recent years, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe has been taking a closer look at the issue of youth participation. Its work over the past five years has concluded that, contrary to popular belief, young people are still committed to participating in society, however they are engaging differently in a society in which they feel marginalised from the political process.
Since October 2014, the Congress has therefore been inviting young people from different backgrounds – youth activists, youth workers, students, young politicians – to take part in its sessions, to have their say in the debates and to exchange with Congress members on the issues on the agenda. Since 2016 they are invited to participate in both sessions, being involved in the Congress’ work for the whole year.
As part of their participation in 2016 youth delegates were invited for the first time to develop their own projects at local and regional level. This aspect of their participation will be further developed in 2017.
The youth delegates must arrive by 19.00 at the latest on Sunday 26 March and Monday 16 October. They will be invited to take part in the debates organised during the plenary sittings and the sessions of the Chamber of Local Authorities and the Chamber of Regions. In addition, they are invited to participate in the meetings of the three Congress committees: the Monitoring Committee, the Governance Committee and the Current Affairs Committee so that they may bring the youth perspective into the Congress’ work at committee stage. Youth delegates are allowed to take the floor in sittings and meetings according to the Congress’ rules and procedures however they are not allowed to vote nor table amendments.
Youth delegates will have the opportunity to start working on-line with their trainers before their first session in order to have the necessary knowledge of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Council of Europe prior to their arrival.
A workshop, led by professional youth trainers from the Council of Europe’s pool of trainers, will be organised for the youth delegates on the eve of the sessions. The youth delegates will have opportunities for informal exchanges with Congress members in the margins of the session sittings and during the side events. An obligatory debriefing and evaluation meeting will be held on the last afternoon of each session (end 17.00). An optional farewell evening will be organised that same evening.
The youth delegates’ participation in the whole of the programme is obligatory, from 19.00 on the day preceding the session to the final day of the session at 17.00. In addition, they must undertake preparatory work before the sessions to facilitate the learning process. If youth delegates wish to take part in the farewell evenings, the Council of Europe will cover the cost of accommodation for the final evening.
Profile of participants
The youth delegates, one per national delegation, should meet the following criteria:
- be open, committed and motivated to develop and strengthen dialogue between young people and elected representatives at local/regional level;
- be between 16 and 30 years old;
- have been resident in one of the Council of Europe member States for a minimum of five years and live in the country which they will represent for the duration of their participation;
- be a member of a local/regional youth council or parliament, or local/regional council or assembly or executive, or a representative of a youth NGO, or a youth-led structure, or involved in youth work, or a local or regional elected representative;
- be available and motivated to engage in the whole of the activity including the preparation of grass-roots projects;
- have an interest in actively participating in policy making at local and/or regional levels;
- be able to multiply the information obtained during the session on their return home;
- speak English fluently (NB: during the sittings they may also speak in one of the official or working languages for which interpretation is provided (English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Turkish)).
Application procedure and selection of participants
Those wishing to apply to take part in the 32nd and 33rd Congress sessions must do so by means of the online application form. Participation in only one session is not possible.
Applicants must also upload a short video, for example via YouTube, of no more than 30 seconds, to support their application.
The deadline for submitting applications is 17 January 2017.
The youth delegates will be selected by a selection panel which includes the Congress’ Spokesperson on Youth, the youth trainers and two members of the Council of Europe’s Advisory Council on Youth. The panel will ensure the selected applicants represent a balanced group with regard to gender, cultural background and experience.
Applicants will be informed of the results of the selection procedure by 31 January 2017.
NB: by accepting an invitation to the sessions and confirming the travel tickets offered by the Congress Secretariat, the youth delegates commit themselves to being present according to the modalities described herein. Any youth delegate cancelling their participation must reimburse the Council of Europe the costs incurred unless a valid reason is provided, for example illness certified by a doctor’s note.
Travel, subsistence and accommodation
The youth delegates’ travel and subsistence expenses will be covered by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities according to the Council of Europe’s rules.
Accommodation will be provided and paid for by the organisers, in single-occupancy or shared rooms according to availability. The organisers cannot cover the cost of accommodation elsewhere.
For further information, please contact:
Dolores Ríos Turón
Head of the Table Office
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
(2) During the non-formal sessions organised alongside the official debates and committee meetings, the working language will be English.
For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.