The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone, participated in a videoconference with EU Youth Ministers to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the youth sector.
Young people are one of the groups most affected by COVID-19, particularly in terms of mobility, activities, access of young people to services and employment, overall well-being and mental health, and youth participation in decision making processes. Some of these difficulties are manageable in the short-term but as restrictions continue the impact grows. In light of these concerns, the EU Ministers for Youth met to discuss what measures can be taken to support the youth sector.
Minister Zappone commented: “I acknowledge and recognise the immense work that is being carried out throughout the youth sector towards ensuring the continuation of supports to young people at this time. I welcome the efforts that the sector are making by adopting innovative or technology based solutions to continue their work remotely.”
Minister Zappone stated that youth work is a vital service for many young people, especially those that are vulnerable, in these challenging and uncertain times. She affirmed that Ireland intends to continue funding voluntary youth organisations through this crisis period. The Minister also confirmed that vulnerable young people in our society will continue to receive the support they need by ensuring that essential outreach services and people occupied to assist in critical work are covered in the list of essential services.
Minister Zappone commented: “The continuation of targeted youth supports, to marginalised, disadvantaged and vulnerable young people are being maintained by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, to support their safety and well-being.”
In conclusion, Minister Zappone stated: “Whilst COVID-19 has brought sorrow, distress and costs to our nation, the commitment, energy, resilience and, above all camaraderie, of young people and the youth sector has been positive and encouraging.”
Notes to the Editor:
The Council of Ministers for Youth is a meeting of Ministers with responsibility for youth policy in each EU Member State and is held towards the end of each EU presidency. The Council holds the power to adopt both legislative and non-legislative proposals in the field of youth.
The Ministers Council for Youth, due to take place in Brussels on May 19th, was cancelled in light of current restrictions and travel advice. The Croatian Presidency, recognising the importance of political guidance amongst EU Member States, arranged an informal videoconference of EU Ministers of Youth to exchange information, practises, ideas and suggestions which could help in a joint search for solutions in order to minimize the damage to the youth sector.
During the current Croatian Presidency Conclusions on Raising Opportunities for Young People in Rural and Remote Areas is proposed for adoption, by written procedure due to the cancellation of the Council meeting. This set of Council Conclusions recognises all young people should have equal opportunities in the context of their personal and professional development, regardless of obstacles, including geographical challenges. The Conclusion takes into account the opportunities and challenges of rural and remote areas, including islands. The Member States, the Commission, and the EU Youth Sector are invited to aim at creating conditions which enable young people to access their rights and fulfil their potential in rural areas.