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The Youth Participation Strategy aims at enhancing youth participation in democratic life through the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes.
Young people are increasingly now involved in ‘alternative forms’ of participation, including youth activism, community volunteering, online activism or youth social movements such as the climate activism movement.
Related to this shift, youth civil society is also in a time of transition, moving from being based around structured hierarchical models of representation and participation to a more networked and diverse sector. At the same time, many youth civil society organisations are also raising concerns about infringements on their freedom of association, assembly and expression, and what has been termed the ‘shrinking space for civil society’.
Encouraging youth participation in democratic life in Europe is embedded in Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The EU Youth Strategy builds on this. It is based around the terms Engage, Empower and Connect and places youth participation right at the forefront of youth policy. The European Youth Goals also identify the importance of youth participation among young people themselves. The Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes further build upon this policy base by setting the objective of enhancing youth participation in democratic life.
It is well recognised that these EU programmes have already made a significant contribution to enhancing youth participation in democratic life, but even more is possible. The Commission has proposed new specific formats designed for this purpose. This Youth Participation Strategy seeks to contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the EU Youth Strategy and the European Youth Goals related to youth participation. It intends to enable a variety of actors to harness more effectively the full potential of the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes in order to foster youth participation in democratic life.