The 3rd European Youth Congress (EYC 2009) - entitled Challenge, Suggest, Act! - was a gathering of around 100 people from 26 European Union, EFTA and Neighbouring countries between the 25th July and 1st August 2009 in Izola, Slovenia. Besides teaching constructive approaches to challenging existing policy, the Congress shone a powerful light on an area that has always been concealed and considered as a taboo topic - namely the inclusion of "Young people with fewer opportunities" (YPFOs) in decision-making processes.
YPFOs, as defined by current EU policies, are 73 million young European citizens who are at a disadvantage compared to their peers because they face one or more of the following challenges: socio-economic obstacles, mental or physical disability, unemployment, educational difficulties, cultural & ethnic differences, health problems and/or geographical obstacles. It was beyond the scope of this congress to narrow down the EU's YPFO policy definitions or to prioritise and separate out the needs of the different YPFO groups. We recognize that this is an essential step that needs to be taken as soon as possible by EU policy-makers in close partnership with YPFOs themselves - as, for example, the needs of severely disabled youth are, inevitably, very different from those who are unemployed or those who face ethnic or geographic discrimination. However, there remain many common challenges for YPFOs in all categories, and, though some of the recommendations in this document are related to specific YPFO categories, most refer to all. We look forward to working on narrowing the YPFO definitions, and making more specific proposals relating to the different categories of YPFOs at future EYC meetings.
Our purpose in this document is to provide guidelines to the different stakeholders on five key issues that relate to the integration of YPFOs in society and their involvement in decision-making processes. The Izola declaration delivers challenges and offers concrete suggestions on these five important policy areas that relate to most YPFOs:
3. Non-formal education and competence-building
4. Social integration and political participation