Strategy initiative

Recommendations to improve European youth cooperation with Neighbouring Partner Countries.

Questions? Comments? Contact the 3 regional SALTOs via

Regarding the Programmes:

The current programmes offer various possibilities for cooperation with neighbouring partner regions without, however, providing an overall framework and aims2. To give more meaning to the cooperation with neighbouring partner regions, it would be important to establish a clear framework for this cooperation, including specific aims and objectives, and potentially also priorities, for both programmes, Erasmus and the European Solidarity Corps.

Under the current programmes, National Agencies have rather high flexibility in spending their budget (mainly under Key Action 1 and ESC) on cooperation with neighbouring partner regions. Past programmes, however, most notably Youth in Action, have placed the cooperation with partner countries in a more specific framework (under a separate Action), which included separate objectives for this cooperation, a clear budget allocation and management.

Such a framework, which includes visible allocation of funds as well specific objectives and criteria for the cooperation with neighbouring partner countries, has the potential to increase the transparency, visibility, meaning and impact of this cooperation, not only in terms of learning opportunities for young people but also in terms of needed development of youth work and youth policies in NPC.

To increase the impact of the Programmes in the neighbouring partner regions, in the new Programmes, the cooperation with these regions should be clearly financially recognised and all National Agencies should be encouraged to spend a relevant part of their budget on this cooperation. Any definition of framework or budgetary allocation should, however, provide enough flexibility to respond to National Agencies’ specific situations and concerns.

Based on the experiences with the current Erasmus+: Youth in Action programme, we see the need to bring back an identity to the cooperation with neighbouring partner countries and to foster a more effective and meaningful approach to this part of the programme, and we therefore suggest to define a minimum level of funds to be allocated on co-operation with partner countries in the future Erasmus+: Youth in Action. This approach would also encourage all National Agencies to deal with the cooperation with partner regions in a more conscious and active way.

We support the fact that the European Solidarity Corps is generally open to all participating and partner countries without setting any financial limitations for the support of projects with partner countries. This approach should be extended also to future Erasmus +: Youth in Action.

In any case, the funds calculated for the support of projects with partner countries should take into account only participants and partners from partner countries as is currently the case in the European Solidarity Corps, and not all participants and all partners in the projects.

Projects with neighbouring partner countries should have an identity and relevance for the partner regions. Factors to be considered in this context include relevant/balanced participation of project partners and participants from Programme and Partner countries in a project as well as the topics addressed.

Furthermore, a defined framework (in terms of aims, budget, structure etc.) would make it possible to establish specific success indicators and to measure the impact and success rates of the cooperation. This could enable the countries involved, as well as the Erasmus programme as a whole, to politically capitalise their investments in international youth cooperation. The number of indicators should be limited to key but diverse aspects of the cooperation with neighbouring partner countries. Indicators should be connected to established objectives within the framework for cooperation with neighbouring partner countries and could be quantitative (i.e. based on data from E+ Link) as well as qualitative (i.e. based on final reports and/or RAY research).

The essential opportunities for cooperation offered by the current programmes should be kept after 2020 and the following features should be specifically strengthened:

  • Cooperation and Small Scale Partnerships should be unconditionally open for neighbouring partner countries (current restrictions should be lifted) as they represent one of the major tools for enhancing capacity building, youth work and youth policy development and are therefore an important tool for stimulating developments in the partner regions.
  • The regional Youth Windows should be kept to offer regular Erasmus: Youth in Action Actions at the centralised level, in order to enable beneficiaries from neighbouring partner countries to take ownership by applying directly for and coordinating projects. National Agencies and SALTOs should be able to influence the objectives and priorities defined for these Windows. Decentralisation of funds made available under the Windows and project management should be considered.
  • We further ask to investigate possibilities to implement local projects in neighbouring partner regions, possibly in the context of the Youth Windows, provided such an investment is well defined within the established framework, the projects have clear link to European youth programmes and there is proper management and monitoring in place.
  • TCA/NET activities focusing on cooperation with neighbouring partner countries should be encouraged and follow a longer-term, strategic perspective allowing to reach in-depth results and to sustain outcomes. National Agencies should be encouraged to include them when defining their TCA/NET objectives and budgets. TCA/NET activities should be open for neighbouring partner countries wherever suitable. The development of new partnerships involving new and small organisations should be systematically supported by specific support activities within a long-term networking strategy.
  • Finally, we suggest to look into possibilities to step up support for neighbouring partner countries that have shown high political interest to cooperate with the EU, potentially in cooperation with national ministries in those countries, based on positive experiences with support structures in the different regions (such as Meda youth units, SEE Contact Points, EECA Info Centres).

Regarding communication between different stakeholders in supporting this cooperation, in particular National Agencies, SALTOs and the European Commission:

Different actors are involved in designing and implementing cooperation with neighbouring partner countries at different levels (different DGs - DG EAC, DG NEAR - and units in the European Commission, EACEA, National Agencies, SALTOs, Erasmus+ offices and EU Delegations in partner countries, EU4Youth support team etc.).

We ask the European Commission to provide opportunities for communication in this broader institutional framework in order to share information, build connections and create synergies, best in regional settings, as they are specific to each neighbouring partner region.

We also see the need to develop regular communication between the EACEA and National Agencies/SALTOs/European Commission in order to share information about project applications and assessments at centralised and decentralised levels, developments in the regions etc.

In particular, we see the need to strengthen the communication between National Agencies, the European Commission, SALTOs and other stakeholders in the field of youth cooperation with neighbouring partner regions. To this end, we propose to establish regular consultative meetings focusing on cooperation with neighbouring partner countries involving the European Commission, National Agencies and SALTOs. These meetings should be self-organised by the network of National Agencies and SALTOs and have the purpose to review, monitor and guide the cooperation with neighbouring partner countries in view of developing a strategic approach for this part of the programmes.

Periodically, other stakeholders should be invited to broaden the consultation process (such as organisations, experts, ministries from neighbouring partner countries, other institutions etc.). Guidelines from the consultative meetings should be implemented at different levels, in particular through SALTO work plans, TCA/NET, KMST etc.

To ensure efficient implementation of this process, a clear mandate for the regional SALTOs is needed. This mandate could include support by regional SALTOs to NAs in the implementation of monitoring of approved projects taking place in partner regions as well as the implementation of capacity-building activities within KMST for NA staff, including study visits in partner regions. The regional SALTOs should be sufficiently supported in order to carry out these tasks.

National Agencies should nominate (a) contact person / persons for the cooperation with neighbouring partner countries.

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