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Youth Council

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 19 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Youth Council on 28 October. [17246]

I attended a useful Council discussion about the prospects for Community action on youth beyond 1999. Debate focused on a Commission non-paper suggesting that there should be a single programme integrating the best elements of Youth for Europe III and the European Voluntary Service for Young People. The latter has yet to be adopted but is being "trialled" in what the Commission have described as a pilot programme in 1996 and 1997. Member States confirmed their attachment to an active youth policy at Community level.The Commission's proposal to establish a European Voluntary Service for Young People from 1998 was also discussed. The UK maintained a Parliamentary scrutiny reserve but there was broad concensus on the text of the proposal. The budget had been a particular area of difficulty for the UK. Although we firmly support the concept of a voluntary service for young people, we considered that expenditure at the level that had been proposed (60 million ecu over two years) would be excessive in the early stages of an activity that is relatively undeveloped in some Member States. After discussion agreement to a figure of 35 million ecu over two years was secured. Subject to the UK scrutiny reserve being lifted, the common position reached at Council will be formally adopted and conveyed to the European Parliament as part of the co-decision process.The Council also adopted a statement in the context of the European Year Against Racism, stressing the importance of informal education to promote the principles of tolerance and respect for other people; and welcoming initiatives by the member states and the Commission to enable young people and those working with them to counter racism.Finally, the Council adopted a statement expressing concern about the difficult situation of many young Europeans in the context of high unemployment; welcoming the emphasis on the fight against youth unemployment; and calling for the adoption of concrete and effective measures in favour of young Europeans at the European Council on 21 November.