Youth are important to the European Union, with many institutions working together to improve their status, in close cooperation with over 15,000 young people directly involved in the decision-making processes at the EU level. Through its Youth Policy, the EU encourages youth participation in democracy; supports youth’s social engagement; and strives to ensure resources needed to play an active role in the society for every young person.
EU Youth Strategy is a framework for cooperation in the area of youth policy for the 2019-2027 period. Eleven European goals aiming to improve the status of young people reflect the views of European youth and defines priorities for all Member States: mental health and wellbeing of youth, moving rural youth forward, quality employment for all, quality learning, connecting EU with youth, equality of all genders, inclusive societies, information and constructive dialogue, space and participation for all, sustainable green Europe, youth organisations and European programmes.
The European Union financially supports Serbia’s efforts to improve youth policy in these areas through projects intended for youth organisations and relevant institutions, such as the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
EU-funded youth projects contribute to increasing the overall readiness of institutions at the national and local level to move forward with innovative development and active youth participation, establishment of improved cooperation between institutions and with young people, enabling them to respond better to the needs of youth and increase the scope and quality of services for young people. Additional support is offered to line ministries as well with a view to promoting youth employment policy and active youth inclusion.
EU for employability of youth in Serbia
As part of “EU support for active youth participation” project the European Union and the Government of Serbia granted EUR4.1 million to 24 projects aimed at improving the status of young people. Over 3,500 young people were given an opportunity to engage more actively in labour market, to find jobs, broaden their knowledge and develop their skills, gain work experience, develop entrepreneurial skills, or start their own business. Special attention was paid to hard-to-employ young people, such as young people with no or insufficient qualifications, young people out of employment and those from particularly vulnerable social groups (youth with disabilities, Roma, youth from rural areas, etc.), young people who are receiving neither formal education nor job training, beneficiaries of social assistance or long-term unemployed young people.
With over EUR830,000 in EU support, offered via project WeB4YES (Western Balkan Society Organisations for Youth Employment Support), new e-platform was created, allowing unemployed citizens from the Western Balkans countries to find information about the labour market and available jobs in their countries and beyond; to learn more about career development; to get online career counselling and relevant information about active labour market measures aimed at unemployed youth, internship opportunities, business incubators, incentives and other types of stimuli to start business, specific incentives aimed at youth with disabilities, etc. Also, 18 small civil society organisations from the Western Balkans received grants in the total amount of EUR150,000 for activities aimed at tackling youth unemployment.
The EU secured over EUR1.1 million for the development of student companies and promotion of youth employability and entrepreneurship through project BY LEAP.
“My Career from Zero to Hero” is a regional project aimed at increasing employability of vulnerable young people who are not in education, training, or labour market (NEET). The project deals primarily with development of transferable and digital (IT) skills and offers introduction to entrepreneurship. Project EMPLOYOUTH deals with the same category of young people and it offers financial support for 50 youth organisations for the implementation of employment model designed for young people belonging to the NEET category. The European Union finances both projects with a total of EUR2.1 million.
EU for greater participation of youth in society
The EU supported Balkan-level initiative “Regional Youth Compact for Europe” with EUR750,000 with the goal to ensure participation of youth organisations from the Western Balkans in the process of policy creation and monitoring of European integration.
Project “Western Balkans Youth Lab” funded by the EU with EUR1,5 million, aims to establish a long-term structured dialogue at the regional level between youth organisations and public administrations with a focus on joint development of policies that will increase youth involvement in the process of decision-making, in order to improve the overall socio-economic environment and mobility of young people within economies of the Western Balkans countries.
EU for new skills
European Solidarity Corps Initiative and European Volunteer Service allow young people from Serbia to volunteer or work in European projects, gain new experience, and help communities across Europe. At the same time, Serbian organisations and institutions can rely on volunteers from the whole Europe. Youthpass is a tool and certificate that describes competences acquired in such projects; in turn, participants can have their knowledge and skills recognised across Europe.
EU for youth mobility and exchange
Since 2019, Serbia takes part in the largest European youth, sports, and education programme—Erasmus+ as a full-fledged member. The total allocation for Erasmus+ amounts to EUR14,7 billion. With EU support, young people, athletes, and students from Serbia participate in exchange and training projects on an equal footing as their peers from the EU. So far, over 10,000 young people from Serbia were given a chance at intercultural learning and exchange. In parallel, institutions from Serbia have attracted over 4,300 young people, students, and teachers from Europe. From the beginning of the programme, Serbia has been the leading country in the region when it comes the number of approved projects and participants in mobility projects, as well as the level of funding.
Youth exchange contributes to increasing mutual understanding. Drawing on this idea, the European Union, with support from Member States, helped to set up and continues to support the work of RYCO—Regional Youth Cooperation Office. Each year, with support from the EU, RYCO launches calls for proposals for projects aimed at regional youth exchange. The total annual funding for these projects amounts to some EUR300,000.