European Year of Youth 2022: EU adopts the first Youth Action Plan in EU External Action to strengthen engagement with young people worldwide

5 October 2022

On the 4th of November the European Commission and the High Representative adopted the Youth Action Plan in the European Union external action for 2022-2027, the first-ever policy framework for a strategic partnership with young people around the world to build a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future. It will help deliver on international commitments, such as the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement, by enhancing meaningful youth participation and empowerment in the EU’s external action policies.

The Youth Action Plan in EU External Action is guided by three pillars of action that will help shape the EU’s partnership with young people in partner countries:

  1. partnership to engage: increasing young people’s voices in policy and decision-making;
  2. partnership to empower: fighting inequalities and providing young people with the skills and tools they need to thrive;
  3. partnership to connect: fostering opportunities for young people to network and exchange with their peers worldwide.

The Youth Action Plan in EU External Action will reinforce ongoing initiatives and launch new key initiatives targeting young people worldwide including:

  • The Youth and Women in Democracy Initiative worth €40 million will increase the voice and leadership of young people, youth activists and youth-led organisations across the world, by strengthening their rights, empowerment, and participation in public and political affairs. The initiative will support grassroots organizations and young activists in the institutional oversight, anti-corruption, citizen election observation, democratic reform advocacy, civil education, promotion of the right to vote, freedom of association and assembly and human rights.
  • The Youth Empowerment Fund is a new pilot initiative worth €10 million that will provide direct financial support to youth-led initiatives in partner countries focusing on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at local level, in particular on environment and climate change and the inclusion of vulnerable and marginalised youth.
  • The Africa-Europe Youth Academy will channel financial support of €50 million to formal and informal learning opportunities and exchanges for young people willing to improve their leadership skills and create networks of change-makers in Africa.

Background information

The Youth Action Plan is the result of extensive consultations with over 220 stakeholders across the world, in particular children’s rights and youth organisations. It responds to the legitimate demand by young people, also reflected in the outcomes of the Conference on the Future of Europe, to be involved in a more structured way in EU policy- and decision-making processes.

The Youth Action Plan strengthens the international dimension of the EU Youth Strategy and builds on the EU Strategy of the Rights of the Child.

It draws on the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy that stresses the need for equal, full and meaningful participation of young people in public and political life, and the European Pillar of Social Rights. Finally, it implements the EU Gender Action Plan (GAP) III, by focusing on the empowerment of girls and young women.

  • “The world is home to the largest generation of young people in history. Sadly, 600 million young people live in conflict or fragile situations and about 264 million children and youth are out of school. These last years have also shown how youth bear the brunt of crises and instability caused by armed conflicts, rising inequalities and global challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation or the COVID-19 pandemic. It is our responsibility to ensure that youth have the tools and opportunities needed to fully develop and participate in everyday life. They are the adults of tomorrow, we must invest in their present and future.”

    High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell


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