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The aim of these questions and answers is to address the most common questions concerning the European Youth Forum (YFJ) and the involvement of Erasmus Student Network.
The European Youth Forum is an international organisation established by national youth councils and international non-governmental youth organisations in Europe, such as ESN. It endeavours to serve the interests of young people from all over Europe, promoting their active participation in the construction of a common Europe. Working with international institutions, mainly the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations, it serves to channel the flow of information and opinions between young people and decision-makers.
The European Youth Forum is made up of national youth councils (NYCs) and international non-governmental youth organisations (INGYOs), federations in themselves bringing together tens of millions of young people from all European countries. These two groups are called the Two Pillars of YFJ. ESN belongs to the INGYO pillar along with e.g. AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l'Europe), WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts), EFIL (European Federation for Intercultural Learning) and others. On the other hand, organisations like Alliansi (Finland), British Youth Council, Forum Nazionale dei Giovani (Italy) or Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Internationale Jugendarbeit (Germany) and many others belong to the NYC pillar. At the moment, there are in total 99 member organisations.
The European Youth Forum is an independent, democratic, youth-led platform, representing national youth councils and international youth organisations from across Europe. The Youth Forum works to empower young people to participate actively in society to improve their own lives, by representing and advocating their needs and interests and those of their organisations.
The Secretary General is responsible for the day-to-day running of the European Youth Forum Secretariat. For political (strategic) matters, though, there is a bureau composed of a president, two vice-presidents, and eight members, who have the political responsibility for the European Youth Forum between statutory meetings (General Assembly and Council of Members).
For the full list of bureau and secretariat members you can check YFJ website. The difference is that the bureau is elected by GA, has a two-year mandate; whereas the secretariat is not elected and the secretariat members are full-time employees of the forum.
The European Youth Forum gets an annual grant from the European Commission following a decision by the Council and the European Parliament. It also receives a small coordinating grant from the Council of Europe. The accounts are audited by internal auditors elected among the members and by an external auditing company as well as by the financial services of the European Commission.
No, the European Youth Forum is not a grant-awarding organisation.
YFJ provides a space for organisations to develop in a sustainable way. It offers strategic support for capacity building, networking and the dissemination of good practice.
It voices the concerns of its member organisations into the political agenda of governmental and European institutions.
It produces policies and positions, which are based on the opinions, experiences and expertise of young people from all over Europe.
Areas of YFJ’s work and interest are developed by, of course, its member organisations and they actually reflect interests of those organisations. In overall, there are several most important areas in the YFJ work:
ESN is particularly interested in mobility, education and additionally volunteering, and training.
ESN applied for joining the YFJ in April 2007. ESN was a Candidate Member for two years, and was approved as a Full Member in the Spring COMEM 2010. Apart from Full and Candidate Members there are also Observer Members.
Types of member organisations in YFJ:
Yes. There is an annual membership fee and it varies depending on the membership type. ESN pays EUR 1500 for the membership per year while being a Candidate and this amount will be slightly higher once we turn a Full member. In return, ESN is reimbursed for all travel and living costs of our representatives on YFJ meetings, whether statutory or not.
Delegates representing the member organisations of the European Youth Forum can attend YFJ meetings (COMEM, GA, or various meetings, seminars, trainings throughout the year) meaning a person appointed by the ESN International Board or CNR.
YFJ organises conferences, training activities, information days, hearings with institutions, etc. For information on upcoming events, you can check www.esn.org or ask the liaison officers at email@example.com.
YFJ stands for Youth Forum Jeunesse - an official name of the Youth Forum. These two acronyms should not be confused because they represent two different things.
EYF stands for European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. Its purpose is to provide financial support to such European youth activities which serve for the promotion of peace, understanding and co-operation in a spirit of respect for the Council of Europe's fundamental values such as human rights, democracy, tolerance and solidarity.
Putting forward our agenda
As other member organisations, ESN can influence the agenda of the Forum, i.e. we can push our priorities into the priorities of the Forum. In more concrete terms, when, for example, General Assembly decides on the YFJ Work Plan for the following two years, we can put forward issues that are of particular interest for ESN, like more space for the issues related to student mobility, recognition in (higher) education, volunteering, or anything else we find important at that moment. Once we succeed in getting the support of GA (read: Member Organisations of YFJ) for topics that concern us it means that YFJ will deal with it more in the following years (lobbying decision makers, for instance).
Experience and know-how exchange with other organisations
There are a lot of things that ESN does that most of other organisations are not familiar with and that could be useful for them to know (for example, how we use ESN Galaxy to bridge the international and local level, or the data we collect through ESN Survey). At the same time, other organisations have knowledge and experience ESN might benefit from once we establish contact with their representatives in YFJ meeting.
Easier excess to decision makers (EU institutions)
If we are very unhappy with a line in the Lifelong Learning Programme Decision, we can ask people from YFJ Bureau (Bureau Member responsible for education, for instance) for help in approaching Members of the European Parliament who can bring this issue up in the European Parliament and question the European Commission. In general, with the support of YFJ, we can more easily establish contact with people from EU institutions that might be relevant for us.
Easier access to grants
Have you ever heard of European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe? Do you know that people from YFJ are directly involved in the decisions on which organisations and which projects will get grants? In the Council of Europe there is a body called Advisory Council, which has a say in this grant allocation, where YFJ (General Assembly) directly appoints people from Member Organisations. Practically, we can nominate people from ESN at GA and lobby for them to be elected! And get more grants approved for the ESN!
Knowledge acquisition and capacity building
YFJ Pool of Trainers is a team composed of people from different member organisations who have trainer experience in various fields (like project management, organisational development, fundraising, intercultural learning, antidiscrimination, etc.).
Promotion of ESN
YFJ is a perfect platform for the promotion of what we do. Promoting ESN to other organisations in the Forum is definitely contributing to the overall visibility of ESN among young people of Europe.
You want to be active and integrated in European life? The YFJ forms an excellent opportunity to be and act as European. You can attend conferences, seminars, meetings and raise the concerns of international students. You can see how decisions are made and accumulate first-hand knowledge about Europe and how it works.
If you are particularly interested in what YFJ does and if you are motivated to help ESN be more successful within YFJ framework, contact our liaison officers.