Today the European Commission announced its commitment to a stronger youth focus in the next long-term budget of the European Union, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).
The European Youth Forum welcomes the recognition of youth as a priority for the future of Europe. However, if the EU wants to seriously impact the lives of all young people the proposed 2.2 times increase in spending on youth is not enough.
The European Youth Forum and its Member Organisations have put forward strong demands, calling for an Investment in Europe’s Youth. How did the Commission live up our to expectations?
Numbers don’t add up for Erasmus+
Young people have been let down by the lack of investment in Erasmus+. The ambition of the EU to create “a more powerful Erasmus+ programme” has been undermined by the proposal of the Commission to only increase funding by two times.
To truly reach the potential of one of the EU’s biggest success stories, we need ten times the funding. Failing to prioritise Erasmus+ demonstrates a clear lack of commitment from the European Commission and falls far short of meeting calls by Member States to build a «substantially strengthened, inclusive and extended Erasmus+ programme».
Furthermore, the announcement that 700 million euros from this budget will be allocated for Interrail passes is extremely disappointing. Investment in this scheme must not come at the expense of current programmes offering valuable opportunities to young people, but be financed through additional resources.
What about our jobs?
We welcome the clear synergies allocated between youth employment, social inclusion and also education through the European Social Fund and Erasmus+.
However, funding must still be earmarked directly to the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) to offer vulnerable young people real quality opportunities and pathways to employment and social inclusion. The European Parliament asked for doubling the funding of the YEI and the European Youth Forum asked for 23 billion euros to be allocated.
We expect the European Commission to respond to current needs with adequate earmarking.
A sustainable budget requires mainstreaming
Although the European Youth Forum welcomes the focus on climate mainstreaming, particularly the goal of 25% of EU expenditure contributing to climate objectives and the 50% increase in the LIFE programme, sustainability concerns far more than just the environment.
We’re disappointed to see that the 2030 Agenda & the Sustainable Development Goals is still not mainstreamed into the financial planning. If we really want to deliver results in an efficient way, a holistic approach of equally considering social, environmental and economic aspects is fundamental.
To achieve more, we need to invest more
The announcement that the European Commission is only aiming for a budget of 1.114% of GNI is disappointing. To successfully build a social Europe that fully implements the European Pillar of Social Rights and ensures opportunities for all young people, we need a bigger budget of 1.3%.
We are pleased, however, to see a proposal for new “Own Resources” as a source of financing and to see the Consolidated Corporate Tax Base and the Emissions Trading System included in the proposal. The MFF must become more self-sustaining and less reliant on “contributions” from Member States.
Next steps for the MFF and youth
The proposal announced today sets the course for the EU’s political priorities and ambition for at least the next seven years, undoubtedly having a huge impact on young people and their futures.
It is essential that young people and youth organisations be involved in the planning, creation, implementation and monitoring of policies and programmes that affect them.
The European Youth Forum will continue to fight #ForYouthRights throughout the upcoming MFF negotiations and we call on the European Parliament and Member States to work with us to secure a better MMF that truly benefits all young people in Europe.