The Structured Dialogue is the result of the A New Impetus for European Youth (White paper, 2001) and a sequence of the European Youth Pact (2005). Those documents emphasize the importance to consult young people on policy fields that affect them directly.
In 2005, a European Union Council Resolution invited the European Commission and the Member States to develop a Structured Dialogue with young people and youth organizations, experts on youth issues and public decision makers.
The biggest boost for its implementation happened with the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018) adopted in 2009 through the Council Resolution that recognize young people as key actors in society that should be considered as an important resource. Therefore it is there mentioned the importance to defend their right to be involved and participate on the elaboration of policies that affect them through a permanent structure dialogue between decision makers, young people and youth organizations.
Thus, the European Cooperation in the Youth field was established:
- Create more equity opportunities for young people on Education and on the labour market:
- Promote active citizenship, social inclusion and solidarity among young people.
8 Domains of Action:
- Education and Training
- Employment and Entrepreneurship
- Social and Well-Being
- Social Inclusion
- Youth and the World & Creativity and Innovation
For more information you can have a look on the European Commission document on the concept of the SD: http://ec.europa.eu/youth/documents/doc776_en.pdf
What is the Structure Dialogue?
The Structured Dialogue is a process enabling discussions between young people and policy makers about different themes, to make sure the opinions of young people are taken into account in defining the EU’s youth policies.
The Structured dialogue is a means of mutual communication between young people and decision-makers in order to implement the priorities of European youth policy cooperation and to make young people’s voice heard in the European policy-shaping process.
It is a consultative process, implemented by the European Commission, in order to increase cooperation with the civil society, and to get first-hand input coming from, in our case, young people.
It is called “Structured Dialogue’ because it happens in a very concrete frame which has been set by the European Commission together with the European Youth Forum.
How does it works?
The Structured Dialogue is linked with the cycles of the European Presidencies.
Every 6 month, the presidency changes.
One Cycle of Structured Dialogue covers 3 cycles of European Presidencies of the European Union, which means in total 18 months and during 6 months of each Presidency.
Each trio of Presidencies chooses a global priority and the Member State assuming the Presidency focus in a subject related with the defined priority.
The Trio of EU Presidencies:
1st Cycle “Youth Employment
- January-June 2010 – 1st Phase
- July-December 2010 – 2nd Phase
- January-June 2011 – 3rd Phase
2nd Cycle: Youth Participation in Democratic Life in Europe
- July-December 2011 – 1st Phase
- January-June 2012 – 2nd Phase
- July-December 2012 – 3rd Phase
3rd Cycle: Social Inclusion of Young People Across Europe
- January-June 2013 – 1st Phase
- July-December 2013 – 2nd Phase
- July-December 2013 – 3rd Phase
- Greece will host the EU Presidency with focus on Youth Entrepreneurship
4th Cycle: (To be updated)
How does it work through different levels?
On National level
Each Member State has a National Working Group with representatives from:
- State (Youth Sector)
- National Youth Councils
- Youth organizations and local/regional youth councils
- Youth Workers
- Researchers on youth field
The role of this group is conduct consultation events with young people and decision makers, collecting the outcomes to include in a national report to send to the European Steering Committee of the Structured Dialogue..
On European level
For each phase the European Steering Committee for the SD constituted by:
- European Commission
- Trio of EU Presidencies
- European Youth Forum
Elaborates a document that reflects the outcomes of the reports sent by the National Working Groups, to present on the European Youth Conference.
The European Youth Conference
The European Youth Conference takes place every 6 month, in the Member State that is hosting the EU Presidency.
During the European Youth Conference, delegates from National Working Groups and International Non Governmental Youth Organisations are present, and discuss again the results of the online consultation, to finalise the recommendations which are going to be presented to the Council of Youth Ministers.
This is the European space that young people and decision makers have the opportunity to discuss and work together to present a common joint message to the EU.
Why getting involved in the Structured Dialogue?
Youth organisations like AEGEE have a vital role to play in the Structured Dialogue, as they speak on behalf of a great number of young people.
Structured dialogue aims at addressing all young people, including those with fewer opportunities or not formally organised. Hence, youth organisations are invited to try to reach out beyond their members and to involve an even larger diversity of young people.
AEGEE defends youth participation in the democratic processes, and we believe that it is important that young people share their needs with decision-makers.
Getting involved in the Structured dialogue is a way for us to make our voice heard, but also to contribute by giving concrete recommendation and concrete input to the Council of ministers.
Young people often complain that there is no space for them to make suggestions to decision-makers, or to influence the decisions which are being taken.
The Structured Dialogue gives a ‘structured’ space for this, on topics which have been preliminarily chosen, but still, which definitely matters for young people.
Therefore, this is a chance that young people need to grab and to use at its fullest.
What is the impact of the Structure Dialogue?
The impact of this process to young people depends on the implementation of the political outcomes by the Member States through concrete measures and the involvement/ commitment of youth representatives on attending and actively participating on the European discussion and on the national working group.
The SD has been getting some visible results on the political decision on the European Level. As an example of these results, for the period of 2012-2013 the European Commission provided more funds to increase the number of projects through Youth In Action Programme and the number of participants from the 6 neighbour countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Byelorussia, Georgia, Moldavia, Ukraine).
On the Denmark Presidency the discussion were focused on youth innovation and creativity and participation on the elections, therefore the conclusions of the Council (approved by the Youth Ministries of the 27 Member States) reflect most of the youth recommendations of the European Conference in Sorø (March 2011). The same happened in Nicosia on the last phase of this cycle, most of recommendations were taking into account on the conclusions of the Member States representatives.
The global results of the 18 months of SD on Youth Participation between young people and decision makers were taken into consideration on the Council Resolution at the end of the cycle. As an example of the results included:
- Extend the Structure Dialogue to all young people;
- Recognition of the youth work and youth organizations as a way to develop skills and competences for youth;
- Supporting youth participation in decision processes at all levels;
- Increase the support for all youth activities focused on intercultural dialogue and participation of young people in the EU and third countries.
What AEGEE has been doing so far?
First of all, AEGEE has been present in all the EU Youth Conference from the different presidencies (Hungary, Poland, Denmark, Cyprus, Ireland, Lithuania). We systematically send the survey with the questions to the members, in order to get first-hand input.
In May 2013, The European Commission organised an evaluation process of the Structured Dialogue during the EU Youth Week 2013, during which AEGEE was present, giving its perspective as youth organisations, and bringing an international perspective, a different added value to the process and a stronger voice in the European Youth level together with the rest of the INGYOs.
Indeed, AEGEE-Europe has been playing a leading role in the involvement and recognition of the INGYOs in the Structured Dialogue.
AEGEE-Europe has organized the first formal meeting of INGYOs gathering 12 youth organizations to draft a common position for the guiding questions of the Irish Presidency.
We will also be hosting the first international consultation in Zaragoza, bringing 22 INGYOs to develop common conclusions for the Lithuanian Presidency, creating a manual of best practices of why and how to involve INGYOs in the process, and we will draft concrete recommendations on the creation of a European Working Group. Check the website: http://www.eurosd.org/sdweb/?lang=es
How to get involved within AEGEE?
- Participate in the online questionnaires and make your voice and opinions reach the decision makers.
- Once participated in the questionnaire apply to represent AEGEE in the EU Youth Conferences around Europe.
- Get in contact with your National Youth Councils and ask how to get involved in the Structured Dialogue and National Working Groups to represent your country in the EU Youth Conferences.
- Get involved in the National Consultations organized by your National Youth Councils.
- Spread the word and get all your friends and members of your antennae to also participate in the process.