CSOs Active in the Field of Youth: Life beyond EU Funding

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Imagining a Different Role for Youth Organisations in Europe

The two latest 7-year budgets of the European Union (2014-2020, 2021-2027) have seen a significant increase to the available funding for youth projects. The difficulties of youngsters to enter “adult life” due to structural obstructions and/or crises is a main reason behind this increase. While this relatively generous funding indicates a concern of ruling elites about the future of youngsters, it is questionable that it is just the quantity of available resources that defines the successes and failures of Brussels’ planning.

Youth projects, can indeed contribute to the approximation of youngsters from different countries, form a European identity, culture and “way of life”. The abundance of youth organisations that have sprung out of mobility projects and the culture of joyful learning, intercultural exchange and connectedness they have created, serves as proof. However, they cannot make up for decaying social policies of European states or the inability of the EU to pursue its social agenda. These policies would need to target the least empowered and most vulnerable youngsters first; those individuals and groups are in most need of emancipation and agency. But for anyone who works in the field of youth and is grounded to social realities, it is obvious that this is rarely the case.

The contribution of EU-funded projects to the well-being of European societies is confined by harsh realities of cash-flow, resource management, constant need for visibility and new audiences, deadlines and reporting guidelines. These are all managerial concerns, largely disconnected from social challenges and their impact on youth. Still, it is against these indicators that the impact of youth organisations is measured. This is expected. The ability to evaluate the effect of an organisation requires constant monitoring and deep knowledge of the community where they operate. But this is beyond the capacities, priorities and competences of the EC and its executive agencies.

The idea that properly fulfilling managerial duties can co-exist with significant results in youngsters’ lives, disregards the fact that we all have finite time and energy as well as that we need to balance work with our personal life and development. In the best case, this line of thought leads to burn out of workers who try to balance quality and resource constraints. In the worst, it leads to the normalisation of the notion that(economic) survival should be the primary concern of youth organisations.

Organisations compete instead of making collective claims, network instead of pursuing alliances, write projects instead of listening to and working with youngsters, search for indicators of success that would make donors feel safe with their choices instead of asserting that risk-taking and uncertainty lays in the heart of any social initiative with a prospect of a real impact.

The second yearly meeting of Inter Alia’s network in the field of youth, sets off from these thoughts and aspires to foster alliances that can challenge centralised, top-down decision making and assert a different paradigm and agenda for youth organisations. Representatives will contribute their organisations’ experiences and practices in building ideas for action and intervention in all stages of policy making. Setting out from youngsters’ needs,the sessions will result in draft policy recommendations for forward-looking, sustainable allocation of EU resources in view of the new EU-budget ratification.

We invite all European organisations active in the field of youth who share our concerns and feel the need for reappraisal of the role of youth organizations and the empowerment of their social imprint to join!

Partner organisations will be financially supported for covering accommodation and travel expenses. The exact amount of the support will be announced soon and will depend on the number of participating members of the network.

Five sponsored positions for organisations outside the network will be available.

You may follow this link to register to our meeting: https://forms.gle/WTJuP2HM9c7T2wMT7

Application deadline: 2 November 2019

Provisional Agenda


16.00 – 17.00 Introduction to the meeting & presentation of Inter Alia networking the field of youth: agenda, activities, outcomes 2019; Nikos Papakostas, co-founder of Inter Alia;
17.00 – 18.00 Speed dating;
18.00 – 19.00 EU budget 2021-2027. Presentation by Boyka Boneva, co-founder of Inter Alia;
19.00 – 21.00 Welcome drinks and pizza.


09.00 – 11.00 Youth organisations and the spirit of activism. Reflection in groups: How did it all start?
11.00 – 13.00 Operational funding, project funding, crowd-funding; Potentials & limitations for your social imprint; Presentation, group work, debate. Facilitated by HIGGS.
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch break
14.30 – 16.30 Youth organisations as agents of change. Panel discussion: Initiatives that brought youngsters’ needs in the political agenda.
16.30 – 18.30 Advocacy workshop – Aims, Tools and Principles for Successful Campaigning. Facilitated by Human Rights 360.

09.00 – 14.00 World café session – Allocating responsibly: Elaboration of policy recommendations on EU public spending in the field of youth.
14.00 – 15.00 Goodbye lunch.

For more information and updates please visit the network’s website https://civilsocietynetwork.weebly.com/