2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the EU's youth programme. To celebrate this, hundreds of events took place all over Europe during the European Youth Week 26 May to 2 June.
The Week highlighted the participation of young people in society in the context of the European Year of Citizens and the forthcoming 2014 elections to the European Parliament.
Highlights included a debate in Brussels where Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Doris Pack, chairwoman of the Culture and Education Committee of the European Parliament, Frances Fitzgerald, Irish Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, discussed the role of young people in shaping their own communities and society.
Three outstanding Youth in Action projects were presented with awards:
• "The Youth Ambassadors Summer Institute 2012" gathered participants from Belgium, Greece, Luxemburg, Poland, Norway, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Moldova in during one week in Brussels (Belgium). The project aimed at improving the intercultural skills and strengthening the understanding the European Union, politics, diplomacy, new media and their influence. It was organised by the Belgian promoter Ryckevelde;
• The European Voluntary Service project "EVS for refugees" took place from 1 October 2010 to 30 June 2011 in Podlaskie in Poland. It was coordinated by the Polish Foundation of Education and Creativity and involved four volunteers from Spain, France, Italy and Latvia. The project organised activities for children and teenagers living in a refugee centre with the aim of supporting the integration of refugee families;
• "Comics against violence" targeted youth workers and took place from 18 to 26 June 2011 in Lorca, Spain. It was organised by the Spanish promoter Cazalla-Intercultural and involved 18 participants from Austria, Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia. The aim of the project was to combat gender violence with comics and the comics that were produced during the project can be used to raise awareness about gender violence.
These, and 33 other projects, were showcased on the Esplanade of the European Parliament. The debate and the award ceremony can be watched here.
The European Commission also hosted a conference with representatives from all 27 Member States which was linked to the EU’s Structured Dialogue with young people and youth organisations. This conference marked the start of a review of the Structured Dialogue.
The YO!Fest organised by the European Youth Forum featured a whole range of events. Highlights included the launch by President Jose Manuel Barroso of a campaign for increased youth participation in the 2014 European Parliament elections and a debate on the challenges for the EU's youth programmes.