In November 2001 the European Commission published the White Paper A New impetus for European Youth
. In the white paper, the Commission identified four priority themes, which were approved by the Council of youth ministers last year: participation, information, voluntary service and a greater understanding of youth.
Participation and information were identified as joint first priorities. Following-up on these first two priorities, the Commission proposed, in April 2003, a set of common objectives
to encourage young people to become more involved and better informed: "How can we encourage young people to pursue active citizenship and boost their real participation in democratic life? How can we give them better access to high-quality information and advice? How can we encourage young people to play a more active part in community life? These are some of the questions that are addressed in the proposal. There you can also find the suggestions and plans of action to answer these questions."
Better information for young people is a precondition for better participation and for the development of the potential of young people as individuals and citizens.
The European Youth Portal
, also arising from the a commitment in the white paper, will be a major tool to improve access to information on Europe for as many young people as possible. There will be information from European, national, regional and local levels, which is of interest to young people, who are living, learning and working in Europe. The ultimate aim of the portal is to enhance young people's participation in public life and thus to contribute to their active citizenship.
These policy actions by the European Commission have helped to bring a new focus to European information at European level.
European youth information charter
It was adopted in Bratislava (Slovak Republic) on 19 November 2004 by the 15th General Assembly of the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA). The text of the Charter, in a variety of languages, can be consulted or downloaded from the ERYICA website
The following principles constitute guidelines for generalist youth information work, which seeks to guarantee the right of young people to information:
- Youth information centres and services shall be open to all young people without exception.
- Youth information centres and services seek to guarantee the equality of access to information for all young people, regardless of their situation, origin, gender, religion, or social category. Special attention should be paid to disadvantaged groups and to young people with specific needs.
- Youth information centres and services should be easily accessible, without any appointment being required. They should be attractive for young people, with a friendly atmosphere. The operating hours should meet the needs of young people.
- The information available shall be based on the requests of young people and on their perceived information needs. It should cover all topics that could interest young people, and should evolve in order to cover new topics.
- Each user shall be respected as an individual and the response to each question shall be personalised. This shall be done in a way that empowers users, promotes the exercise of their autonomy, and develops their capacity to analyse and use information.
- Youth information services shall be free of charge.
- Information is given in a way that respects both the privacy of users and their right not to reveal their identity.
- Information is provided in a professional manner by staff trained for this purpose.
- The information offered is complete, up-to-date, accurate, practical and user-friendly.
- Every effort is made to ensure the objectivity of the information provided through the pluralism and verification of the sources used.
- The information offered shall be independent of any religious, political, ideological or commercial influence.
- Youth information centres and services shall strive to reach the largest possible number of young people, in ways that are effective and appropriate to different groups and needs, and by being creative and innovative in their choice of strategies, methods and tools.
- Young people shall have the opportunity to participate, in appropriate ways, in different stages of youth information work, at local, regional, national and international levels. These can include, among others: identifying information needs, the preparation and delivery of information, managing and evaluating information services and projects and peer group activities.
- Youth information centres and services shall co-operate with other youth services and structures, especially in their geographical area, and shall network with intermediaries and other bodies that work with young people.
- Youth information centres and services shall help young people both to access information provided via modern information and communication technologies, and to develop their skills in using them.
- Each source of funding for youth information work should not act in any way that prevents a youth information centre or service from applying all the principles of this Charter.
Eurodesk is the only European Network dedicated to providing European information of relevance to young people and those who work with them. However, there are other networks operating at European level in the youth information field providing a different range of information to young people:
The European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA)
The European Youth Card Association (EYCA)