As members of the European Youth Forum (YFJ), OBESSU attended its biannual General Assembly on the 17th to 19th of November. The meeting was held in the European Youth Capital of 2017, Varna, Bulgaria, and gathered more than 200 representatives from YFJ membership.

The European Youth Forum is the European platform of youth organisations, consisting in two main ‘pillars’: one pillar composed of International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations (INGYOs) and another pillar composed of the National Youth Councils (NYCs). The Youth Forum in total gathers 103 different member organisations.

As the highest decision-making body of the platform, the General Assembly is about elections, adoption of different policy documents and resolutions, discussions and debates between members. In particularly, this year the General Assembly voted to adopt the Work Plan for 2017-2019 as well as the Resolution on the EU Youth Strategy, but perhaps the highlight for many delegates was the election of the new Board.

As in OBESSU, the Board of YFJ has a two-year mandate and for the past two years, OBESSU was represented by Dejan Bojanic (former OBESSU Board member). This year, with our support he decided to run for Vice President of YFJ. Before the actual election on Friday afternoon, membership representatives had the change to get to know all the candidates, through a round of debates. The OBESSU Board conducted interviews with all of them, in order to assess their positions and visions.

We take this opportunity to congratulate Luis Alvarado Martinez (nominated by AEGEE, European Students’ Forum) as the new President of the European Youth Forum, as well as Carina Autenbruger (nominated by ÖJB, Austrian Youth Council) and our own nominee, Dejan Bojanic, who were elected as Vice President. We are very proud of his election and want to give him our warmest congratulations!

As for the Board, we also want to congratulate the election of Andrea Casamenti (nominated by ECYC, European Confederation of Youth Clubs), Ville Majamaa (nominated my WOSM, World Organisation of Scout Movements), Nafsika Vrettaki (nominated by YEPP, Youth of European People’s Party) and Sebastiaan Rood (nominated by YFEG, The Federation of Young European Greens), Mari Stromsvang (nominated by LNU, Norwegian Youth Council), Kristen Aigro (nominated by ENL, Estonian National Youth Council), Zuzana Vaneckova  (nominated by CRDM, The Czech Council of Children and Youth ) and Tina Hocevar (nominated by MSS, National Youth Council of Slovenia).

Looking forward to the cooperation with the entire newly elected Board of YFJ!

We are also happy to see that three people in the new Board have a background in OBESSU (Dejan as a former Board member, Kristen and Ville as former Monitoring Committee members).

Moreover, the General Assembly adopted the Resolution on the EU Youth Strategy, focusing on different areas OBESSU is already working on:

  1. Increase of investment in education and innovation;
  2. Recognition and support of youth work and youth organisations;
  3. Work towards smooth transitions between education cycles;
  4. Non-discrimination and access to social rights;
  5. Universal free access to health care.

These are just some of the points mentioned in the Resolution. We are glad to read this Resolution and looking forward to using it in our advocacy work.

As the current Work Plan of YFJ is expiring in 2017, a new plan (Work Plan 2017-2019) was needed to be adopted. With overall topics such as Youth Rights, Sustainable Development, Social Economic Inclusion and many others, we are very glad to be part of the implementation of this new Work Plan. Themes like Non-Formal Education, access to quality education, migration and funding are just a few examples of areas where OBESSU and YFJ will work closely together.

As the General Assembly was held on the 17th of November, OBESSU and ESU (European Students’ Union) also shed light upon the International Students’ Day and in particular on our campaign on Student Welfare, which got the support of all the delegates present at the meeting. A big thank you goes to all of them and also to the Youth Forum itself, for sharing and spreading the word!

It is definitely an interesting period for the European Youth Forum, who is now moving into a new ‘era’, with a new Board, a new Work Plan and new advocacy-focus. We want to thank the previous Board for their hard work and commitment. Good luck to the new Board, and let’s move the European Youth Forum to so far unseen heights!

Article written by Lasse Sjøbeck Jørgensen and Rūta Meškauskaitė, OBESSU Board members