Substantive issues, methodological lessons, support measures and youth policy standards: a reflection on the "third seven" Council of Europe international reviews of national youth policy
The Council of Europe's 21 international reviews of national youth policy have, over 20 years, produced a significant body of knowledge and a respected, innovative methodology. They have considerably enhanced the understanding and the development of "youth policy" throughout Europe.
Following the first seven international reviews, a synthesis report was produced that endeavoured to construct a framework for understanding youth policy. A similar synthesis exercise took place after a further seven international reviews, reflecting both on the evolving process of carrying out the reviews and on new themes and issues for youth policy that had not emerged within the initial framework.
This book, the third concerned with supporting young people in Europe, is a synthesis of the last seven international reviews, coupled with an overview of the learning that has accrued from all 21 international reviews. It draws together some of the conclusions and challenges that have emerged over two decades and considers some lessons for the future, not least alternative models of engagement in the youth field between the Council of Europe and its member states.
Greece is the 20th country to have had its youth policy reviewed by an international review team appointed by the Council of Europe. The financial crisis and resulting high unemployment rate, especially among young people, was the major concern encountered by the review team. Although the crisis has compelled Greece to engage in profound fiscal reform and address many of its structural weaknesses, this has not been matched by labour market activation policies and other youth policy measures needed to reverse the mood of despondency and stem the tide of emigration of young people.
This international review focused in particular on two aspects of youth transitions: the transition from the education system to the labour market; and the related issue of military service and conscription, which is an integral part of life for young men in Greece. The review team also considered characteristics of the public administration, which dwells on bureaucratic compliance and has limited scope and licence for fostering initiative and creativity, despite incessant rhetoric about the need for "entrepreneurship".
The review team advocates the establishment of more creative and innovative mechanisms to free the entrepreneurial and participative spirit not only of young people in Greece, but also of its regional and local administrations, youth organisations and local youth councils, in order for them to provide timely and purposeful intervention, opportunity and support according to local need and circumstances.