The Council of Europe & young people

Building Europe together
for 40 years - 1972-2012

Our unique role

For 40 years, the Council of Europe and young people have been working together to build a better, safer and more united world.

We are pioneers in the field of youth policy and the only organisation in the world which gives both youth leaders and government officials an equal say when deciding on youth policies, priorities and programmes. This unique power-sharing system (known as “co-management”) demonstrates our support for active youth participation.

We want to see effective youth policies throughout Europe, responding to young people’s needs and concerns.

We help young people to:

  • Access their human rights,
  • Be treated with dignity and respect,
  • Realise their potential,
  • Have adequate learning opportunities,
  • Cope with today’s challenges,
  • defend human rights, democracy and the rule of law.


The Council of Europe is celebrating the 40th anniversary both of the Strasbourg European Youth Centre, which opened on 1 June 1972, and the European Youth Foundation, established the same year.


Human rights and democracy:
  • Human rights education,
  • Active citizenship and participation,
  • Equality between women and men and the prevention of gender-based violence,
  • Environmental education and action promoting sustainable development,
  • Access to quality information and counselling for young people.
Promoting cultural diversity:
  • Preventing and fighting racism, discrimination and hate speech,
  • Empowering young people to promote cultural diversity,
  • Peace-building, conflict transformation and reconciliation,
  • Developing global solidarity and co-operation.
Social cohesion:
  • Empowering all young people to access their social rights,
  • Recognition of youth work and non-formal education,
  • Supporting young people’s autonomy and well-being,
  • Enabling young people to make the transition from education to work,
  • Integrating excluded young people.


The Council of Europe has been the driving force behind youth policy and youth work in Europe for over 40 years, breaking new ground with innovative policies, approaches and educational materials.
  • The All Different All Equal youth campaigns against racism, xenophobia and intolerance which ran in more than 40 countries;
  • The Roma Youth Action Plan which is helping to empower Roma young people and highlight their concerns.
  • The Compass and Compasito human rights education manuals, which have been translated into more than 30 languages;
  • The Gender Matters training manual on tackling gender-based violence;
  • Portfolio, which enables youth workers to assess and validate their skills and experience.
  • The European Youth Weeks – in 1985, 1992 and 1995 – high visibility youth festivals which put young people’s concerns in the limelight;
  • The development of living libraries – where borrowers “take out” and talk to people instead of books – to break down prejudice and stereotypes.

Reference website

40th anniversary

For decades, young activists have been involved in protests – from the 1968 student demonstrations to today – showing their desire to have a voice in the political process. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe responded by calling for the creation of a youth centre where young people could meet, develop ideas and solutions to the problems facing them. The Strasbourg European Youth Centre was finally created in 1972 and celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2012. (more...)

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Reference texts