The biggest youth organization in Armenia, the Federation of Youth Clubs - #FYCA, is deeply worried by the difficult financial situation faced by the Council of Europe and the draft contingency-plan, which proposes to cut budget for Youth sector due to the reduction of its overall budget in the last years.
On the 23rd of May, the budget committee will meet. FYCA hopes that this meeting will bring decisions considering the youth sector as vital for the long-term survival of the Council of Europe, as well as the democratic development in Europe.
FYCA, with its dozens of youth clubs, was one of the first Armenian organizations, which benefited from the Youth Department - Council of Europe's opportunities and resources, European Youth Foundation's financing, organized and participated in different educational events in the European Youth Centre, Strasbourg and European Youth Centre Budapest, thus developing Youth field and Youth Work, Human Rights Education, Democracy and Youth Participation in Armenia since the very beginning Armenia joined the Council of Europe.
The budget cut for Youth sector is unacceptable. The Council of Europe youth sector plays an instrumental role in the support and advancement of youth work services and youth sectors across Europe, and provides unique assistance to communities, organizations and movements looking to create positive change within their realities.
In countries where values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law are under threat, the presence of the Council of Europe and its efforts to strengthen civil society, and in particular the youth sector, are of crucial importance. What will be the financial implications for smaller countries, with the foreseen partial agreement which will replace the youth department? Thousand of young people will stop benefiting from the quality activity opportunities by the youth sector funding through the hard every day work of the International NGOs, like ECYC, MIJARC Europe, YEN, YEE, WostAYN, etc.
Youth organizations empower young people to become multipliers in their communities for human rights, rule of law and democratic citizenship. Budget cuts would mean that many youth organizations are no longer able to carry out their education work, because in many countries the existence of these funds is vital for youth organizations.
It is outrageous that the youth sector is being this disproportionately hit compared to other sectors of the Council of Europe. This will destroy the most advanced system for youth participation in the Europe, and leave thousands of young people and youth organizations without the support from and association to the Council of Europe's values.
Based on the fact that the Russian Federation is not paying it’s membership fee in recent years the Secretary General of CoE developed a contingency-plan on how to stabilize the budget situation.
The draft contingency-plan was released Friday 3rd of May. It states that there should be proportional cuts for all sectors, except for the youth sector which will be replaced by an a partial agreement. A partial agreements is voluntary based cooperation between member states, requiring extra funding, with no co-management, and very few incentives for member states to join.
From the contingency-plan:
Page 10, point 49 of the SG’s Contingency Plan. "Should it be required to implement the contingency plan, the Secretary General considers it necessary to lessen this impact across sectors and preserve the Council of Europe’s leading role in key areas of its work. He therefore proposes to end the financing of the Organisation’s youth sector activities from the Ordinary Budget as of 1 January 2021 and to set up a new enlarged partial agreement on Youth. This would provide a possibility to continue with part or all current activities, as well as an opportunity for increased financial support from the European Union. Over the coming months a study would be undertaken and a more detailed proposal would be presented that would allow this enlarged partial agreement to be in operation by 2021."
It is the duty of all Council of Europe Member States to uphold its values and preserve the
work done for young people and their organizations. Member States should put in place all
the appropriate diplomatic measures to gather political and financial support among Member
States in order to solve the difficult financial situation the Council of Europe is currently
facing and to preserve the youth-related activities of the Council of Europe.
The Federation of Youth Clubs expects from the Armenian government active involvement in discussions and advocacy on this issue, especially having in mind that Armenia's Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe (PACE) Paruyr Hovhannisyan was elected the Chairman of the CoE Committee of Ministers on Education, Culture, Sport, Youth and Environment (GR-C). Mr. Hovhannisyan took the office on November 14, 2018 and will keep it until August 31, 2020. FYCA expects actions from Mr. Hovhannisyan in this regard.