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Citizenship, Education and Democracy through the Youth Forum of European Union (YFEU)

Author: Gaetano Morese

In the aftermath of 1968, an opportunity emerged in the European integration process to involve young Europeans through representative democratic institutions.1 After a complex process, representatives of some European youth organizations set up the Youth Forum of the European Communities (later of the European Union) in 1978 in Ariccia, near Rome. Funded by the Community, YFEC consisted of National Youth Councils representing each member country and of international non-governmental youth organizations active in Europe. Its function was to promote and support young people’s needs, raise awareness of community issues and put pressure on European institutions to adopt policies and initiatives able to solve youth problems. As a Community consultative body, YFEC organized itself internally with democratic structures and processes in order to elaborate policies, positions, and actions. In its activities, which were maintained until 1996 when YFEC merged with other platforms in the still existing European Youth Forum, YFEC was a democratic institution that contributed to the elaboration of European citizenship rights, with particular attention to the youth. At the same time, it promoted various activities and initiatives in favour of education for democracy and citizenship. It also put education at the centre of European youth policies, as a fundamental factor to build a shared identity. Its evident international vocation later led YFEC to expand its activities with the promotion of dialogues, meetings and cooperations with developing countries, particularly in the Euro-Mediterranean area and in Latin America. YFEC kept promoting democratic forms of participation, recognition of rights and educational activities dedicated to young people.    

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  1. I have conducted this  research on the Youth Forum of the European Communities on the basis of its documentation preserved at the Historical Archive of the European Union in Florence and with the support of a Vibeke Sørensen Grant provided by the European University Institute of Florence in 2019. []