EU and international cooperation in the youth sector

Matkalaukkuja. KUVA: VisualHunt.comThe objective of international and European cooperation is to develop youth policy and support youth work through networking and exchanges of good practices. The Ministry of Education and Culture creates preconditions for international cooperation between actors in this sector.


European Union cooperation in youth issues

The European Union’s competence in the youth sector is based on Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Harmonising the Member States’ legislation is not part of this competence.
The European Union Youth Strategy is the framework for EU youth policy cooperation for 2019-2027. EU cooperation in the youth sector aims to harness the potential of youth policy in an optimal way. It encourages young people to participate in democratic life, supports social engagement and fosters civic activities. Youth policy cooperation also serves to make sure all young people have the necessary resources to participate in society.

In Finland, the Ministry of Education and Culture has the main responsibility for monitoring and drafting EU matters and formulating Finland's positions on youth issues. The EU-32 sub-committee (youth and sport), appointed by the Committee for EU Affairs, has a key role in preparing EU matters.
Cooperation in the youth sector is funded under Erasmus+, a Union Programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport. The total budget for the programme for the seven-year programming period is EUR 14.7 billion, of which 10% is allocated to young people. The Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for implementing the programme and disseminating information on it in Finland.

Topical in EU affairs

The Belgian Presidency 2024

The Belgian Presidency’s youth sector theme is ”involving, empowering and connecting young people”. The focus is also on further developing youth work within Europe with a focus on local youth work and an inclusive society.
Key events:

  • Expert seminar on European and international policy agendas on children, youth affairs and children's rights – 21 to 23 January 2024 
  • European Conference on Local Youth Work and Democracy – 20 to 23 February 2024
  • European Youth Conference – 2 to 5 March 2024 

Presidency website

European Year of Youth 2022

On the initiative of the Commission, 2022 was designated the European Year of Youth. Its focus was on improving young people’s social inclusion and wellbeing, strengthening democracy and bringing a message of confidence in the future for young people amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the Year of Youth highlighted how the green transition, the digital transition and other Union policies could bring young people new opportunities in society. The year served to empower and support young people, especially young people with fewer opportunities, from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds, young people belonging to vulnerable and marginalised groups, and young people from rural, remote and peripheral, to become active and engaged citizens. The year also sought to mainstream youth policy across all relevant Union policy fields in line with the in line with the 2019–2027 European Union Youth Strategy.

In Finland, the Finnish National Agency for Education was responsible for coordinating the year.

European Year of Youth (in Finnish)

Cooperation within the Council of Europe

No binding conventions exist in the youth sector. However, Committee of Ministers' Resolution (2020)2, which was adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on 22 January 2020, provides guidance on youth policy cooperation.
•    Council of Europe Youth Strategy 2030

The Council of Europe supports the Member States in developing their youth policies by setting standards and carrying out international reviews of national youth policies and youth policy advisory missions.

The recommendations of the Committee of Ministers serve as instruments that give guidance and direction to the Member States in matters of policy and legislation.

Recommendation CM/Rec(2017)4 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on youth work:
•    Recommendation in English

Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)6 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on protecting youth civil society and young people, and supporting their participation in democratic processes
•    Recommendation in English  

The European Youth Foundation (EYF) supports the activities of youth organisations.

Cooperation between the Council of Europe and the European Commission in the field of youth work and research is based on a partnership agreement. 

Council of Europe Youth Campaign: Democracy Here, Democracy Now

The Council of Europe Youth Campaign seeks to address concerns about the state of democracy in the context of increased populism, fake news, shrinking space for civil society and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine increased the need to act to safeguard democracy and peace. In Finland, the Finnish National Youth Council Allianssi is responsible for coordinating the campaign.

During the project, various measures for democracy education and participation used by organisations and municipalities were collected on Allianssi’s website. This gives the public sector and the third sector better tools to promote young people's opportunities to participate and exert influence in their activities.

Home - Democracy here. Democracy now. (
Models for democracy education and participation - Allianssi (
Nordic cooperation

The Nordic Committee for Children and Young People operates as the expert body on youth policy in the Nordic Council of Ministers. It is responsible for coordinating and monitoring the Nordic Council of Ministers’ strategy for children and young people. It also grants support for organisations and projects related to Nordic cooperation in youth issues.

A new vision for the Nordic Council of Ministers was adopted in summer 2019.

In 2020, Nordic Council of Ministers decided that sustainable development, gender equality, and a child rights and youth perspective are three broad principles that will permeate all of the Council’s work. 

Nordic Council of Ministers policy for mainstreaming sustainable development, gender equality, and a child rights and youth perspective 

Finland will hold the Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2025.

Barents Region cooperation

The focus of the Working Group on Youth (WGY) of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council is on promoting youth engagement in all areas of the Barents cooperation. The aim is to encourage young people in the region to cooperate, support their activities and take part in dialogue with decision-makers. The focus in youth cooperation is on engaging young people in the work of the Council, and the Barents Regional Youth Council (BRYC) works with the aim to empower younger people to participate more actively in all Barents region cooperation. The BRYC has a permanent representative in the WGY.

Youth Issues - Barents Euro-Arctic Council ( link to external website

Finland’s Chairmanship of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council ran from 2021 to 2023.
•    Barents cooperation link to external website

Cooperation between the Baltic Sea States

Finland assumed the Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) on 1 July 2023 and its Presidency will run to 30 June 2024.

To advance the Regional Identity priority, Finland’s Presidency will focus on young people and on advancing their participation in society.

Contact information

Sanna Puura, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of Education and Culture, Nuoriso- ja liikuntapolitiikan osasto (NUOLI), Nuorisotyön ja -politiikan vastuualue (NV) Telephone:0295330128   Email Address: