16 September 1992
on the situation of young people in the New Europe
(Rapporteur: Mrs TERBORG, Germany, SPD)
In the last 20 years, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has expressed its views on youth issues in a large number of recommendations and guidelines, and its initiatives have given valuable food for thought and led to practical decisions.
This report for the first time considers the dramatic political, economic and social changes in Central and Eastern Europe and their impact on youth and makes proposals based on this analysis.
The analytical section of the report describes the situation of young people who were in the front line of the democratic process of change, but who are now increasingly disappointed by its practical consequences, full of fears for the future, watching the improvements they strove for recede into the far distance and drawing back in frustration.
Fear of unemployment, the housing shortage, the continuing decline in the standard of living, all feed this withdrawal from participation in the political sphere. The new democratic youth movement often feels abandoned by the state, deprived of material resources and only loosely attached to the new Europe. The ideal of youth mobility throughout Europe comes up against practical financial limits, but also against many types of bureaucratic barriers.
The present report tries to provide partial answers. It pleads for a controlled and systematic exchange of young qualified workers and sees this as an opportunity for improving the situation in Central and Eastern Europe. It also puts forward proposals for underpinning the new democratic youth structures. In this it is guided by the certainty that, in the present difficult period of upheaval, young people of Central and Eastern Europe need clear guidelines, awareness of the opportunities and risks inherent in a democratic society, and prospects for their personal future.
It is accepted that there is not an enormous amount the Council of Europe can offer; but even a small contribution can be of great help if it is promptly provided.
I. DRAFT RECOMMENDATION
on exchanges involving young workers after the
revolutionary changes of 1989
1. The Assembly wishes to further the policies for youth mobility as proposed by the Third European Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth in Lisbon in 1990.
2. It is alarmed at the negative prospects in terms of education, training and employment for young people throughout Europe.
3. It is concerned lest facilities for youth work in Central and Eastern Europe disappear without any equivalent replacement and particularly anxious as to the situation of young people in this area with regard to access to professional qualification and employment.
4. It is convinced that young people need to become acquainted with the "European Idea" through first-hand personal experience.
5. The Assembly believes that the "New Europe" of the years to come should not be a Europe of frontiers, divisions and mutual exclusion, but rather an open continent, offering and securing the right of mobility to every individual.
6. The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i. encourage the reduction of administrative barriers for young people who have completed their vocational training according to the rules laid down by their home authorities and who seek to enrich their professional and general knowledge by a temporary work stay abroad;
ii. encourage the development of national youth cards, where they already exist, into "youth service cards", which may facilitate visa procedures, permit access to work and replace the financial deposits and supplementary insurance usually required by states in cases of temporary stays by young people;
iii. urge those governments which might envisage abolishing the Inter-rail card system to devise alternative arrangements with their European partners that will ensure similar benefits for young people travelling;
iv. provide for the enlargement and international co-ordination of the "Young Journeyman Scheme", initiated by the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, in order to achieve a viable exchange system for young workers throughout Europe;
v. invite the Commission of the European Communities to create an exchange system for young qualified workers extending to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe on lines similar to the "Tempus" programme for academic exchanges;
vi. set up an international fund under the authority of the European Youth Foundation which could in a flexible, non-bureaucratic manner react to specific needs of young people in countries of Central and Eastern Europe and help in particular to provide advice on facilities and youth information systems in these countries;
vii. implement the recommendation of the Governing Board of the European Youth Centre and Foundation that has been presented to the Committee of Ministers on the enlargement of facilities for youth worker training in Central and Eastern Europe;
viii.hold a conference involving representatives of youth exchange services, and similar establishments and institutions operating throughout Europe (Franco-German Youth Office, European Youth Foundation, certain agencies of the European Community, etc.) in order to provide a better co-ordination of services and avoid overlapping and useless competition;
ix. organise a European conference of youth research institutes which might become the basis for a Europe-wide network of information on youth research;
x. draw the attention of the Ministers responsible for Youth, both of Council of Europe member states and of the European Community, to the existence of youth facilities in Central and Eastern Europe and to the risk of their imminent disappearance, calling on them to take appropriate steps for the maintenance of these facilities within a pan-European network of youth co-operation.
II. DRAFT ORDER
The Assembly refers to Recommendation ... (1992) on exchanges involving young workers after the revolutionary changes of 1989 and calls for Assembly debates every second year on the situation of young people in Europe.
III. EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM
by Mrs Terborg
a. Texts adopted by the Assembly relating to the social situation of young people
b. The need for exchanges of young workers
c. The method used for this report
B. The general situation of young people in Central and Eastern Europe
C. Exchanges of qualified students and young workers
D. Would such an exchange programme overstrech the Council of Europe's resources?
E. Exploitation of existing experience
F. The Council of Europe must now take the initiative
G. The setting up of democratic youth structures
a. Information and training courses for youth organisations in the context of the Demosthenes programme
b. The recommandations of the Governing Board of the EYC and the EYF concerning the expansion of youth training in Central and Eastern Europe
a. Texts adopted by the Assembly relating to the social situation of young people
1. The Assembly has dealt at intervals over the past twenty years with the social situation of young people and with measures to promote youth exchanges. I would recall
- Recommendation 592 (1970) on youth problems in Europe (Docs. 2715 and 2610, Rapporteur: Mr Borel)
- Resolution 464 (1970) on the creation of a European Youth Foundation (Doc. 2820, Rapporteur: Mrs Klee)
- Recommendation 758 (1975) and Resolution 590 (1975) on group participation in public life by young people (Doc. 3590, Rapporteur: Mr Vitter)
- Recommendation 897 (1980) on educational visits and pupil exchanges between member states (Doc. 4541, Rapporteur: Mrs Mantzouliou)
- Recommendation 902 (1980) on youth co-operation in Europe (Doc. 4587, Rapporteur: Mr Foulkes)
- Recommendation 1019 (1985) on the participation of young people in political and institutional life (Doc. 5462, Rapporteur: Mr Martinez)
- Order 454 (1990) on youth representation at national level (Doc. 6257, Rapporteur: Mr Kollwelter)
2. Finally, I would recall that the European Youth Centre is also a product of the Assembly: its foundation has its origins in Resolution 186 (1960), paragraphs 14 to 17.
3. These initiatives of the Assembly with respect to youth policy have provided valuable ideas but they are not sufficient. In view of the importance of the area of youth policy in the Council of Europe and of the actual problems faced by young people in Europe, especially when the new member states are included, we suggest that the Assembly conduct such debates every second year on the situation of young people in Europe.
b. The need for exchanges of young workers
4. To a certain extent, this report is breaking new ground. Reflections on the mobility of young people generally involve very small élite groups of young people participating in cultural or educational exchange schemes, or else they involve the opposite: the spectre of young people from countries struggling to combat economic difficulties pushing on to the European job market, an influx which requires strict controls.
5. What is mostly not taken into account when this comparison is made is the opening up of opportunities for young qualified workers from Central and Eastern Europe to undertake paid work, the nature of which is to provide them with further qualifications, for a limited period in Western Europe and then to return to their home country in order to be able to make a contribution with the knowledge and skills acquired to the economic development of their country and to the establishment of small and medium-sized businesses. Such an exchange from West to East is not examined at all with respect to its actual chances of success. Moreover, the social and economic benefits of these measures for the countries participating in the exchange are left completely out of account.
6. This report informs the Assembly of the results of a survey the rapporteur conducted on the situation of young workers in Central and Eastern Europe and their needs concerning improvements in their job qualifications.
7. These results are linked to the initiatives taken by the Council of Europe up to now with respect to youth policy:
- the activities of the European Youth Centre and the European Youth Foundation
- the recommendations of the Third Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Youth held in September 1990 in Lisbon and the preparations for the Fourth Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth to be held in Vienna in April 1993
- the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers on information for young people: R (90) 7
- the work of the Partial Agreement on the Youth Card
- the work on the "International Youth Mobility" project of the European Steering Committee for Intergovernmental Co-operation in the Youth Field (CDEJ)
- the recommendation, addressed to the Committee of Ministers, of the Governing Board of the EYC and EYF on the development of democratic and pluralistic youth structures, the training of youth leaders and intercultural learning in the member states
- the system of exchanges for young journeymen created by the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.
- furthermore, certain suggestions are directed at the European Community within the framework of the programmes it runs.
c. The method used for this report
8. In the period 20 February to 5 March 1992, the Rapporteur visited the following capital cities of Central and Eastern Europe: Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Moscow, Riga and Warsaw.
9. In these cities discussions were held with representatives of ministries responsible for youth questions, with youth experts and with youth and student associations. These meetings had been prepared in advance by sending off a list of questions, the contents of which were based on the "motion for a recommendation" (Doc. 6540). This list, supplemented by a number of additional questions on cultural aspects of youth lifestyles in Central and Eastern Europe, is appended to this report.
10. The financial resources of the Council of Europe would not have made such on-the-spot research possible, and for this reason it was financed by the Bundestag. I received considerable support from German missions abroad and wish to express my thanks for this. A total of 55 detailed conversations were held in just under two weeks.
11. The report is also supplemented by insights gained and experience gathered by the European Youth Centre. In addition, the preliminary conclusions drawn were the subject of an exchange of views with the CDEJ and a hearing organised by the Sub-Committee on Youth and Sport (Committee on Culture and Education of the Parliamentary Assembly) on 8 May 1992 with representatives of European networks responsible for vocational training and youth mobility.
B. THE GENERAL SITUATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
12. Before I turn to the concrete results of my fact-finding tour I should like to describe some general impressions I had which highlight the current situation of young people in Central and Eastern Europe.
13. We have perhaps already forgotten that without the active role played by young people, the revolutionary changes of the last two to three years would not have been imaginable. The never-ending stream of refugees from the former German Democratic Republic to Czechoslovakia and Hungary consisted mainly of young people; the street fighting and demonstrations in Moscow, Vilnius, Prague, Leipzig and Bucharest were carried out by young people. In full knowledge of the risk they were taking, for it was not so long before that that in another part of the world, in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, young people had stood up for a democratic society. There were also casualties in Moscow, Bucharest and elsewhere.
14. The period of euphoria following these drastic changes now belongs to history. Instead, there is widespread disappointment and the expectations, which were far too great, have turned to bitterness. The idols of the revolution are fading, the revolutionary fervour has been replaced by a retreat into the private sphere. Without making sweeping generalisations, and taking into account the very different national and cultural characteristics in Central and Eastern Europe, a number of observations can be made which throw light on the effects of the change in the system on the younger generation in Central and Eastern Europe:
i. The economic difficulties common (albeit in differing intensities) to all states in transition to a market economy affect the younger generation to their full extent and make it difficult for them to adopt a confident open and positive attitude to the prospects for life in the new political order. One cannot avoid recognising that although it is true that the improvements in the social situation of young people in Central and Eastern Europe depend on general economic conditions, it is also true that their awareness - both positive and negative - is determined by these basic conditions. For the subject of this report - youth exchanges and the opportunities for mobility open to young people - this means, and this is our first observation, that the Iron Curtain continues to exist in Europe. It has just become invisible. The economic divide and the considerable differences in the value of money in Europe are alone fully sufficient to maintain this division for a long time to come.
Regrettably the situation may even be worsening, if for example governments are allowed to abolish cheap travel facilities for young people, as represented by the Inter-rail card system.
ii. Continuing technological development, increasing diversification and specialisation both in the areas of production and trade and in the service sector have led to continual changes in job profiles in Western Europe and made it increasingly important to provide young people with vocational qualifications. This does not only mean job skills in the narrow sense but also so-called key qualifications of a cognitive, social and communicative nature. A large part of Europe is preparing for the increased competition of the European single market, and it is once again important to provide further vocational qualifications and improve people's ability to promote international understanding.
What is the situation in Eastern Europe? The radical economic and social changes have completely rendered invalid overnight, as it were, the knowledge and qualifications people have acquired, and professional and scientific training courses lead nowhere. Apart from a few trades, and with due regard for the generally quite high standards of schools, there is a great deal to catch up on with regard to the updating of professional and, to a certain extent, academic qualifications. For this reason exchanges with the countries of the "West" are of paramount importance for the younger generation in the new societies to assert themselves.
iii. In the media there is increasing talk of nationalistic and racist tendencies among young people in Central and Eastern Europe, and there is great uncertainty concerning the attitude of these young people to politics and public life. It must be said from the outset that this is also a growing problem in Western Europe and is certainly not least an indicator of growing uncertainty and anxiety in society. Both appearances and the few data available from empirical social research indicate that young people in Central and Eastern Europe are retreating into the private sphere, and one would be right in saying that this trend is more marked than in Western Europe. For this reason it is certainly time that the increasing detachment of young people from public affairs is debated at the pan-European level.
iv. There is no question that two factors influence the lives of young people more than anything else: work and accommodation. In this respect the picture in Central and Eastern Europe is alarming. Youth unemployment is growing dramatically and has become a nightmare for young people, especially in societies which before the changes did not experience unemployment and the many risks for their lives it involves. We have always been aware of the serious housing shortage for all sections of the population but it is becoming more and more depressing, especially for the younger generation. It is difficult to build a new society under such circumstances.
v. These problems are compounded by the vacuum caused by the collapse of the old communist state youth structures. To be sure, the purpose of the old structures was to protect the political leadership from its own young people, but it was, after all, part of the work of the old youth structures to accompany young people almost everywhere: in their work, their free time, sport and in the way they shaped their lives. We need not shed any tears for such youth work based on a totalitarian system, but what came to replace it is also very worrying: the youth budgets, which used to be substantial, have shrunk dramatically; the holiday, leisure and educational facilities have either been shut down or privatised, or else their continued existence is seriously threatened; the considerable assets owned by the old youth associations have mysteriously disappeared, been confiscated or are being eroded by inflation.
A creeping expropriation of young people took place before they were able to take possession of what was theirs. Youth work has become ghettoised, just like it is in the "old" member states. What is more problematic is that in the communist countries young people had a pseudo-right of consultation in matters affecting them. In the new societies the state has mostly lost its tongue with respect to its youth and its offers of helping to shape affairs and of sharing responsibility are extremely rudimentary.
vi. Against this background of reality as it stands and of frustrated hopes, the question is whether the Council of Europe, with its extremely limited resources, is in any position to improve the social situation of young people in Central and Eastern Europe. What could it, in concrete terms, contribute towards changing the economic situation for the better, creating opportunities for attaining vocational qualifications, helping to bring about a new political openness, promoting the building of new housing and putting a stop to unemployment, which is still on the increase?
15. And yet, the Council of Europe, which has done so much in the area of youth work, cannot afford to leave young people to their own devices. To be sure, it will act in the knowledge that it cannot solve basic social conflicts, but it will have to fully apply the means with respect to youth policy it has at its disposal to those countries of Central and Eastern Europe which have acceded to the European Cultural Convention. It will have to send out positive signals so that broader initiatives can ensue. It should help to ensure that in all the countries of Europe the realisation gains ground that stable democracies can only be built with young people and not without them. And it should both concentrate on providing further training for young people to act as communicators of information and offer assistance for building democratic youth structures.
16. The Council of Europe's initiatives with respect to youth policy have been characterised by two ideas: participation and mobility. The further considerations contained in this report will also give support to these ideas.
17. The size of the task at hand makes it necessary for all of us to review rituals and thought patterns we have grown to love. When we do so it may turn out that decisions once taken have to be modified and that suggested solutions which have been agreed by youth associations, governments and governing boards are viewed somewhat differently at the parliamentary level from the level of those engaged in the "European youth business". We must give up our compartmentalised way of thinking, according to which, for example, youth unemployment is the business of the Employment Minister, housing shortages that of the Housing Minister, youth mobility the Interior Minister's problem and undesirable developments with respect to democracy the problem of the Minister of Education (together with the corresponding parliamentary committees). We must approach the subject by taking a more global view. For this reason the report does not treat the question of the mobility of young people in the way it has been dealt with up to now in texts produced by the Council of Europe - namely as a question of promoting exchange schemes of a general and cultural nature - but explicity includes job mobility.
C. EXCHANGES OF QUALIFIED STUDENTS AND YOUNG WORKERS
18. The central aspect of this report is, therefore, a plea for exchanges of students and young workers in the greater Europe with a clear purpose in mind. As there is not only the ERASMUS programme of the European Community, which is restricted to the member states, but also the TEMPUS programme for young students in five Central and East European countries, this report concentrates especially on the exchange of young qualified workers. As rapporteur I find confirmation for this emphasis in my visits to Central and Eastern Europe. Wherever I put forward the basic idea of such an exchange I met with a lively response and positive reactions from all concerned.
19. With regard to exchanges of young qualified workers, several additional distinctions must be made:
20. The participants in these exchanges of limited duration should be young workers employed mainly by small and medium-sized businesses and aged 18 to 25 years. They should have completed appropriate training for qualified workers, and have clear ideas about their future careers in their firms. On this basis, exchanges will be organised with Western firms, the aim being for the young workers to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills when they return to their own firms.
21. Before leaving home, the young workers should learn the basic vocabulary of the relevant foreign language that will be needed to ensure the success of the exchange. This vocabulary will, of course, vary from one occupation to another. It would also be advisable to prepare the young people for the specific culture of the host country and to employ accompanying schemes to guarantee the success of the exchange from the preparatory phase right through to the evaluation phase. Exchanges should not be focused narrowly on purely vocational training, but should also take account of the social environment, questions of labour organisation and company management. A good model could be provided by the European Community's "Exchange programme for young workers", which has existed for many years, with additional elements being incorporated for the specific requirements of qualified worker exchanges.
22. Exchanges of young qualified workers operate extremely successfully in large companies where they form an integral part of in-house further training. Such exchanges are already becoming increasingly common in joint ventures or other production and co-operation arrangements between major Western companies and partners in Central/Eastern Europe. This process seems likely to develop further even without public aid. Small and medium-sized businesses, which are of crucial importance to the national economies of Eastern, Central and Western Europe, have a key role to play here. We believe that such firms will be established in increasing numbers in Central and Eastern Europe and that they will very quickly develop a need for professionally highly qualified workers. At the same time, these firms will have only limited financial resources and, in the absence of efficient public vocational training systems, will be unable to afford their own in-house training schemes.
23. On the other hand, there are many small and medium-sized firms in the West which would like to engage in economic activities in Central and Eastern Europe but have only limited knowledge of the infrastructural, political, social and cultural problems of the countries concerned. In other words, Western firms must surely also have an interest in learning more about industrial, production and market structures through exchanges of young qualified workers from West to East and in using this experience in future business relations. Inadequate knowledge of the relevant languages, mentalities and specific regional factors are only a few examples of the information deficits that exist in the West.
D. WOULD SUCH AN EXCHANGE PROGRAMME OVERSTRETCH THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S RESOURCES?
24. It is not difficult to see that a large-scale exchange programme for young qualified workers would very quickly overstretch the Council of Europe's technical and financial resources. Costs must therefore be shared and close co-operation should be sought with the European Community. The following individual factors must be considered:
- The companies and administrations sending the young workers must have a clear idea of the benefit of exchanges to their own future development and must agree with the young exchange workers a binding plan for their future careers.
- A paneuropean exchange programme for young qualified workers must involve and be supported by many different partners: chambers of commerce, trade unions, local authorities, vocational training and further training organisations, youth organisations and, of course, the companies themselves. As a first stage, it will be necessary to achieve consensus among these various bodies on the form and content of qualified worker exchanges. This can be followed in a second stage by the definition of straightforward and unbureaucratic methods of implementation. Governments should be responsible for the original initiative and further co-ordination during the first stage, with responsibility for the programme then being transferred to an appropriate semi-public or private body.
25. It is essential for the following questions to be clarified in preparation for further discussion of such a programme:
- How accurately can the vocational preconditions for participation in such a programme be described?
- Can the problems of travel and subsistence expenses be solved by paying the exchange workers an appropriate amount, or is there another possibility?
- Can social insurance cover for illness and accidents be provided through a social insurance card for exchange trainees (with contribution payments by the qualified worker and the company), or will another solution have to be found?
- Does the commitment made before the exchange to provide continued employment guarantee that the young qualified workers will return home after completing the programme, or are further guarantees necessary?
E. EXPLOITATION OF EXISTING EXPERIENCE
26. Clarification of these questions may be simplified with the aid of experience gained in a great number of existing exchange systems in the youth mobility sector. Relevant examples include:
- Bilateral agreements between States which often cover problems of cultural and trainee exchanges.
- The European Community exchange programmes ERASMUS, TEMPUS and the "Exchange programme for young workers".
- The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), run by the European Community, and the many vocational training measures adopted within the European Social Fund can provide valuable information.
27. Finally, the Council of Europe also has experience to offer. Examples include the new European Journeymen network initiated by the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) and the extensive youth mobility work carried out by the Council of Europe's youth division. Particular use should be made of experience gained in the European Youth Centre and the European Youth Foundation.
28. In the youth field and in connection with the work of the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth, a number of other activities are relevant to the qualified worker exchange programme recommended here:
i. The Council of Europe has instituted a Partial Agreement on the Youth Card. We should examine whether the extremely successful youth cards found in some countries could also be used for qualified worker exchange programmes.
ii. A European Youth Exchange Certificate has been in preparation for some time. Although the concept is still controversial, considerable progress has been made with regard to the definition of quality criteria for paedagogical preparation and back-up for exchange programmes in the youth sector. This may help in the definition of certain standards in respect of exchange programmes for young qualified workers.
iii. Finally, preparatory work to break down the technical and administrative barriers involved in crossing borders is already well advanced. Such work is particularly significant as a means of ensuring that the desired mobility of young qualified workers is not thwarted by other government measures inspired by labour market considerations. The question remains as to whether we can wait until the problem as a whole is resolved in a Council of Europe convention on youth mobility.
F. THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE MUST NOW TAKE THE INITIATIVE
29. This report attempts to provide an answer to an urgent and undisputed need: the substantial deficits in the domain of young people's vocational qualifications can be positively influenced by a paneuropean programme for the exchange of young qualified workers; we urgently recommend that the Parliamentary Assembly should support such a programme. The Council of Europe must take the initiative, and the programme itself requires constructive co-operation between a great many partners at both national and international level.
30. In Europe there are a large number of organisations which have long-term experience in international youth exchanges: in addition to the Youth Centre and the Youth Foundation here in Strasbourg and the special programmes of the European Community, there are also bi-national institutions such as the Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk, private foundations, vocational training funds and youth organisations running their own exchange programmes. A great deal of the activity in this domain is complementary and sometimes such activities go hand in hand; occasionally there is also an overlapping of competences, competition and unnecessary duplication. There are programmes offering more than comfortable conditions and others which are much more modest.
31. In view of the major challenge involved in setting up a functional system of cultural and youth exchanges between Eastern and Western Europe, it is urgently necessary for all those concerned to meet at a major European specialist conference, in order to agree on their strategies, to concentrate their efforts and to develop new synergies. In addition to further developing a project for the exchange of young qualified workers, the objective of such a conference would be to evolve a contextual framework for youth exchange programmes geared to political, social and cultural education.
32. Intensive focusing on the problems of young people in Eastern, Central and Western Europe presupposes a precise knowledge of socio-empirical research in the youth sector. As a further initiative, the Council of Europe ought therefore to host a pan-European conference of youth research institutes. It will become apparent that despite varying presuppositions, there is a wide range of similar problems affecting young people in Eastern, Central and Western Europe. This conference might pave the way to a European information network on youth research and provide a further dimension to future reports addressed to the Council of Europe.
G. THE SETTING-UP OF DEMOCRATIC YOUTH STRUCTURES
33. The ideas outlined here should be seen in the context of the concepts which the Council of Europe in general, and the European Youth Foundation and European Youth Centre in particular, have developed for co-operation with Central and Eastern Europe. I have in mind the Demosthenes programme, in so far as it concerns youth questions, as well as the recommendation of the Administrative Board on the development of youth training in Central and Eastern Europe. In regard to these issues too, my numerous contacts on the spot produced interesting results.
a. Information and training courses for youth organisations in the context of the Demosthenes programme
34. In co-operation with the Council of European National Youth Committees (CENYC) and the European Co-ordination Bureau of International Youth Organisations (ECB), the European Youth Centre and the European Youth Foundation have held three information and training courses for emerging youth organisations of Central and Eastern Europe during the years 1990 and 1991. These courses were held in Nozsvaj (Hungary), Pultus (Poland) and Ceskovice (CSFR); they demonstrated the day-to-day reality of work in youth organisations at local, regional and national level and provided information on European youth structures and possibilities available to encourage the mobility of young people. They were based on active participation and intercultural learning and were considered significant and successful.
35. This year, such courses are to be held in Slovenia and Finland (for participants from the Baltic republics). The success of the courses and the substantial information deficit in Central and Eastern Europe are indicative of the need for a considerable expansion of these activities by the European Youth Centre and the European Youth Foundation. The fact that the European Community has expressed its willingness to participate financially and to provide staff for such courses is an encouraging sign for the future.
b. The recommendations of the Governing Board of the European Youth Centre and of the European Youth Foundation concerning the expansion of youth training in Central and Eastern Europe
36. The recommendations essentially consist of four parts:
- setting-up of a new complementary youth centre in a country of Central and Eastern Europe under the aegis of the Governing Board and as a Council of Europe institution;
- establishment of a network of regional centres for youth work in all the signatory states of the Cultural Convention with the objective of close international co-operation;
- creation of a special fund providing technical and practical backing for youth work in Central and Eastern Europe under the aegis of the European Youth Foundation;
- widening of possibilities for participation in the programmes of the EYC and the EYF for participants from Central and Eastern Europe.
37. The last two points in the recommendation raise no problem and have already been largely incorporated in the practice of the EYC and the EYF. The question of setting-up a second European youth centre in a country of Central and Eastern Europe is a more controversial issue. The idea of a network of regional youth centres met with a lot of support. I was often told that even if a new complementary youth centre were to be set-up in a country of Central or Eastern Europe, establishing regional centres was indispensable. I mention this despite the fact that an amendment by the Committee on Culture and Education of the Parliamentary Assembly in favour of a new complementary youth centre was adopted by the Standing Committee and so appears in Opinion No 157 (1991) on the Council of Europe general accounts and budgets. This proposal is currently being discussed in the Committee of Ministers.
38. I gained the impression that the great majority of my interlocutors in the states of Central and Eastern Europe I visited are in favour of a strong local presence on the part of the Council of Europe and would give regional centres priority over a new complementary youth centre. They argue as follows: Eastern and Central Europe does not consist of a homogeneous entity of states, conditions and requirements vary from country to country, the regional centre could constitute an important mediator between young people and politicians and help to break down existing barriers to communication; there was an urgent need for on-the-spot counselling which would not be met by far-flung centres. The second proposal made by the Governing Board therefore seems a great deal more attractive and appropriate and might constitute a constructive contribution to the expansion of youth work in Central and Eastern Europe. If a decision were nonetheless reached in favour of a new complementary centre, regional centres would continue to be indispensable.
39. This is the situation I found on the spot. I am not arguing against a new complementary centre, but I should venture to advise strongly that the existing forces and resources should be concentrated on the establishment of and support for regional centres.
40. Before all these considerations have been fully thought through, further courses must be inaugurated, and the Youth Foundation and Youth Centre should provide the new agencies involved in democratic youth work with information on the Western pluralist youth set-up and what Europe has to offer to young people. These information packages should be tailored to the needs of individual countries.
41. Time is running out. With every month of disappointed hopes and expectations, young people in Central and Eastern Europe become increasingly alienated from the concept of a democratic, pluralist and freely organised society. The more difficult the young generation's struggle for existence becomes, the more energies are absorbed that should actually be going into the transformation of society. The Rapporteur's visit to six countries in Central and Eastern Europe showed the following:
- complete approval for the idea of organising exchanges of young qualified manual and white-collar workers for the purpose of further training;
- a variety of proposals regarding the agencies which should organise such exchanges. These range from the involvement of government ministries and non-governmental organisations (chambers of commerce, trade unions, and, to a lesser extent, youth associations) right through to a Council of Europe clearing house;
- recognition of the fact that exchanges could be hindered not only by (surmountable) administrative obstacles, sometimes concerning passport and visa requirements, but also by language difficulties and travel costs;
- the expectation that the exchange trainees will be all the more likely to return home if their subsequent employment in their home country is securely guaranteed. Limited-duration residence permits and, in a very few cases, the transfer of the trainees' wages to their home countries were also suggested as safeguards here;
- there is general support for the provision of social insurance cover for illness and accidents by means of a European social insurance card (with contribution payments by the trainees and host firms);
- exchanges from West to East are held to be more difficult in view of language and accommodation problems and also the great social divide, but are nevertheless considered extremely desirable;
- the creation under the aegis of the European Youth Centre of a special fund for the development of democratic youth structures would be warmly welcomed;
- a European conference of all youth exchange services, agencies and institutions was everywhere regarded as necessary;
- there was similar approval for the idea of holding a conference of European youth research institutes;
- views on the future of the youth work agencies that existed under the old system are usually extremely pessimistic; the structures and assets of the old youth organisations have often disappeared;
- the idea of setting up a new complementary youth centre in a country of Central or Eastern Europe is regarded with scepticism while the establishment under the aegis of the Council of Europe of a youth network covering all countries is held to be absolutely essential.
42. This report is prompted by the consideration that, during the present critical period of upheaval in Central and Eastern Europe, young people need clear guidelines, knowledge about the opportunities and risks inherent in a democratic society and a perspective for their personal future.
43. There is not an enormous amount the Council of Europe can offer; but even that small contribution can be a great help if it is promptly provided.
44. The formation of public opinion and the decision-making process in the European context usually progress at a pace which does scant justice to the speed with which genuine change is actually taking place in Central and Eastern Europe. We shall have to alter this, if we are not to lose the race for the hearts and minds of young people in favour of a democratic, free, peaceful and social Europe.
A P P E N D I X
submitted by Mrs Margitta Terborg
1. What is your attitude to the proposal that young qualified workers in industry and business should be provided with opportunities for work experience abroad with a view to improving their qualifications, and how great do you estimate the demand would be?
2. What state agency or youth organisation would be suitable for arranging such an exchange system? Do you think that it would be possible, as a reciprocal measure, to offer such work experience in your country for the benefit of young people from West European states?
3. What administrative obstacles might hinder the proposed exchange of qualified workers and what measures would have to be taken to make the exchange possible?
4. What do you think could be done (a) to ensure that the young people concerned returned to their home country after completing their job experience abroad and (b) what insurance cover would have to be provided for them during their stay abroad?
5. What community centres or similar meeting places in your country could be used for this type of international youth exchange?
6. What is your opinion regarding the idea to set up a special fund, to be administered by the European Youth Foundation, which could help to meet the needs of young people from Central and Eastern Europe in a flexible, non-bureaucratic manner?
7. What do you think of the idea of organising a conference of all youth exchange agencies, services and institutions currently active in this field in order to standardise the facilities offered and avoid unnecessary duplication and competition?
8. Which youth employment facilities in your country have survived the transition from the old system, which ones are threatened and how could their survival be ensured?
9. Which facilities could be used to build up a paneuropean youth network?
QUESTIONS CONCERNING CULTURAL ASPECTS
10. How do young people accept the new society, how do they react to living problems and the collapse of the old value systems?
11. What do they expect from the new democracies, from a new Europe?
12. Are they in danger of trying to inject new meanings into old concepts of the nation-state?
13. How tolerant are they of others, of foreigners, how ready are they to use violence?
14. What do they expect of society, apart from personal security?
15. What are their main cultural needs?
16. What do they themselves see as lacking, and what help do they want to fill the gaps?
17. What are their attitudes to old and new forms of youth work?
18. How deeply do they feel the need for solidarity, how ready are they to show it?
19. How mobile are young people, how strong is their urge to escape everyday problems by emigrating?
20. What new idols have replaced the fallen ones?
21. How political are these young people, how committed are they to the new society?
Reporting committee: Committee on Culture and Education.
Budgetary implications for the Assembly: None.
Reference to committee: Doc. 6540, Reference No. 1764 of 3 February 1992.
Draft recommendation and order: Unanimously adopted by the committee on 1 September 1992.
Members of the committee: Mrs Fischer (Chairman), Mr de Puig, Sir Russell Johnston (Vice-Chairmen), MM. Alegre, Arnalds, Bauer, Berg, Berti (Alternate: Cardelli), Bonnici, Bratinka, Cem (Alternate:
Ms Őzver), Danev, Dhaille (Alternate: Beix), Mrs Err, Mrs Fleeetwood, MM. Galanos (Alternate: Hadjidemetriou), Gül, Mrs Hawlicek,
MM. Hunault, Lemoine, Liapis, Lady Lockwood, MM. Lopez Henares, Malachowski, Mezzapesa, Mikan, Monfils (Alternate: Sarens), Muehlemann, Müller, O'Keeffe (Alternate: Ferris), Pahtas, Mrs Parkanova,
Mrs Persson, MM. Pilarski, Rauti (Alternate: Colombo), Mrs Robert,
Mr Roseta, Mrs Ryynanen, MM. Schädler, Schmidt, Scovacricchi, Seeuws (Alternate: Ghesquière), Soell, Sir Keith Speed (Alternate: Jessel), Ms Szelenyi, MM. Tummers, Verbeek (Alternate: Mrs Verpaget).
NB: The names of those members who took part in the vote are underlined.
Secretaries to the committee: MM. Grayson and Ary.