Youthful Europe

Youthful Europe

NOTE:  The educational website is under development. Until then, this site will provide information about the project "Youthful Europe".


The learning programme ‘Youthful Europe’ is an initiative of the Austrian, German and Polish National Agencies for the Erasmus+: Youth in Action programme and the three regional SALTO Centres (SEE, EECA and Euromed). It responds to a need to provide perspectives for addressing the European dimension in youth work and to promote the empowerment of young people taking an active role in envisaging future Europe. The learning programme contributes to the continuous efforts of the European Union to promote the European values, intercultural dialogue and social cohesion through its policies and measures targeting education and youth.

 »Europe is a state of mind that goes beyond a grouping of nation states, an internal market and the geographical contours of a continent. Europe is a moral and political responsibility, which must be carried out, not only by institutions and politicians, but by each and every European. Europe is a source of inspiration from the past, it is emancipation in the present, and an aspiration towards a sustainable future. Europe is an identity, an idea, an ideal«.

European Commission: New narrative for Europe, Declaration »The mind and body of Europe«*


Growing up in global uncertainty: the challenges of contemporary European youth

The idea of Europe has for long been synonymous with modernity, affluence and civic values, such as democracy and respect for human rights. These notions with time have constituted an agreeable narrative of European history, cultures and future perspectives, which many can identify with, despite much destabilising political and societal turmoil in the continent’s past. This belief in Europe has contributed greatly to integration, a sense of shared identity and interdependency.

Due to the increasing international and transnational cooperation in Europe, particularly after the collapse of the communist regime from 1989 onwards, young people have become ever more socialised to European citizenship and a sense of belonging. International mobility has enabled a growing number of young people to travel, study and work in another European country, in particular within the European Union. Additionally, the developing information and communication technologies as well as the deregulation of border controls, has brought ‘Europe’ also closer to the daily lives of young people at home, enabling them to associate with it in their local environments.

However, the recent economic crisis, geopolitical risks and destabilization of the global order as well as the rise of new nationalism, have triggered the unravelling of the sense of belonging in, and commitment to Europe, evoking xenophobia, political extremism and radicalisation at worst. The idea of a unified Europe has begun to represent a threat instead of an opportunity for many young people; especially those who are struggling for economic independence and self-actualisation in the midst of accumulating uncertainties. Many support national withdrawal over pan-European solutions for the common challenges.

The fragmentation of the common narrative has had a multiple effect on geographically more peripheral Europe*, where the sense of ‘belonging’ has less been consolidated through political or economic instruments, associated for example to the European Union. Together with the existing geopolitical and interethnic tensions within the regions, the young people in the Western Balkans, Eastern Partnership countries, Russian Federation and South-Mediterranean countries are at an even higher risk of feeling alienated from feeling Europeans than their peers in other countries.

Nevertheless, looking back in history, the idea of Europe has indisputably “risen from the ashes” of devastation already several times, and even more so, it is young people today, who are proportionally less sceptical towards Europe than their older counterparts.  At the same time, it is worth acknowledging that what Europe represents is not geographically or culturally exclusive; the same virtues exist and are applicable elsewhere in the world as well. How Europe thrives in the future depends on the political and societal management of current challenges. The civic engagement of the people, especially the young, is crucially important.

Young people in the forefront of shaping tomorrow’s Europe: what do we try to achieve with the learning programme “Youthful Europe”?

Youth work as a civic practice gives space for young people to realise active citizenship and provoke their personal development by giving them a chance to face and overcome challenges in a safe setting. International youth mobility’s, in particular activities within the frame of the Erasmus+ Youth in Action programme, provide young people with a possibility to add a European perspective to the experience by enabling exchange with their peers from other countries.

However, the European dimension in youth work, even in projects within the Erasmus+ Youth in Action programme, far too often remains distant or abstract to those involved. It is difficult for both, young participants and project leaders to address it effectively, as the concept is without a fixed definition. Also the learning programme ‘Youthful Europe’ does not give a final definition. Europe is understood as a perspective and potential rather than something inherently conclusive; every definition is relevant only contextually. For example; European geographical borders can appear very different when defining them in different historical political or cultural terms. Instead of trying to “freeze” the definition, the programme provides approaches and methods to address and cope with the ambiguity.  Nevertheless, the ‘Youthful Europe’ learning programme also recognises and promotes a variety of existing frameworks and mechanisms that support the search for identification and the possibilities for active citizenship in Europe.

Primarily, ‘Youthful Europe’ aims at promoting hope, solidarity and a sense of cohesion among young Europeans. Youth work has the potential to strive towards the empowerment of young people, and reflecting that, the learning programme opens perspectives on how Europe can be understood as a platform for the empowerment of today’s youth for whom locality and nationality no longer provide a sufficient framework for identity and political agency.

Structure of the learning programme “Youthful Europe”

The programme has a long-term perspective consisting of a residential and online training course (the e-learning phases occur prior to and after the residential activity). The learning programme is implemented semi-annually in the regions of the Partner Countries of the Erasmus+ Youth in Action programme. This means the neighbouring regions of the European Union, the Western Balkans, Eastern Partnership countries, Russian Federation, and South-Mediterranean countries. 

  • The next edition of the learning programme will be associated with the Eastern Partnership region and will take place in Tbilisi, Georgia in 27th of March - 1st of April 2017. The call for participants is closed. The prior e-learning phase will begin six weeks prior to the residential activity and continue four weeks afterwards. More information of the programme of activities is available here.
  • The e-learning tool is under development and will be completed in spring 2017. It will have two parts:
    • The educational website will function  as the basis for the topics covered in the residential training courses, contextualising them and providing more in-depth information. The website will be complemented by an application for tablets and smart phones, created through the ‘Actionbound’ (  ), adding an interactive element to the site. Website and application can as well be used independently.​
    • There is also a closed E-learning platform for the selected participants of each round of the training course. The e-learning platform provides the participants a chance to get acquainted with the topic, communicate among each other and carry out facilitated assignments prior to and after the residential activity. Selected outcomes of the assignments are incorporated into the residential training courses.

Past cooperation in the frame of “Youthful Europe”

The concept of the learning programme is based on a series of training courses organised by the German National Agency for the YOUTH / Youth in Action / Erasmus+ Youth in Action programmes. The training courses started in 2004 and were originally organised at the national level in Germany and later internationally in different countries of Europe. The programme builds on its own previous experiences and over time has been adapted to correspond to contemporary realities of young people and youth work in Europe. Until today, the project has grown into a joint initiative of three Erasmus+ Youth in Action National Agencies and all three regional SALTO Resource Centres. Dialogue with the regions neighbouring the European Union is an integral element of the learning programme.

Aim and objectives

The aim of the learning programme is to provide youth work practitioners with a possibility to explore and critically reflect on different approaches towards Europe through three of its constitutive elements: identity, values and active participation and further inspire young people to see Europe as an opportunity.


  • to provide the participants with an opportunity to express and review their thoughts and feelings of Europe;
  • to discover diverse perceptions of Europe and concrete realities of youth work and young people in European communities;
  • to develop insight on personal identity and values and develop understanding on how they are reflected in the European context;
  • to deepen the understanding of what means to be an active citizen in Europe and stimulate creative approaches of practising it;
  • to discover different approaches of non-formal education towards opening perspectives and supporting young people in using Europe as an opportunity;
  • to motivate participants to use the possibilities offered by the Erasmus+: Youth in Action Programme.

The target group for the programme is youth work practitioners who are:

  • working directly with young people;
  • interested in the reflection and further learning on the topic of Europe and the empowerment of young people to understand and experience Europe as an opportunity;
  • motivated to apply the acquired competences in the local youth work practice;
  • able to commit to participate in the entire programme, including the e-learning phase prior and after the training course (see the programme of activities for further information);
  • able to work effectively in English;
  • over 18 years old;

We welcome applicants with a diverse level of prior international experience.

* In this context we refer in particular to “neighbouring partner regions” within the context of the European Union: Western Balkans, Eastern Partnership countries, Russian Federation and South-Mediterranean countries.

  • Training Course Youthful Europe in the Western Balkan region took place in 3rd - 8th of October, 2016 in Pristina, Kosovo.

    Training Course Youthful Europe in the Western Balkan region took place in 3rd - 8th of October, 2016 in Pristina, Kosovo.

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