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The Council of Europe (CoE) is facing an unprecedented political and financial crisis, following Russia’s decision to halt payments in 2017 (and the risk of its withdrawal from the CoE), Turkey’s decision to return to its original status as an ordinary contributor and the ‘zero nominal growth’ budget policy implemented by member states. In such a critical scenario, Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland is planning a 13% reduction of CoE’s annual budget, which will significantly affect the youth sector. In particular, he proposes to “end the financing of the Organisation’s youth sector activities from the Ordinary Budget as of 1 January 2021”. He suggested to create an “enlarged partial agreement on Youth”, based on voluntary contributions by member states, which will be fully operational by 2021 following a comprehensive study on the issue.
The CoE’s Advisory Council on Youth published a statement by Political Party Youth Organisations (PPYOs) and the European Youth Forum, on the Council of Europe youth department budget cuts, demanding “that the Council of Europe Youth Department and its instruments will not be disproportionately affected by any future budget cuts”. Other organisations, such as the European Students’ Union (ESU) and the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU), raised their concerns over the CoE’s cutting plan.
ESU, for instance, calls on member states to totally reject the CoE Secretary General’s contingency plan in order to defend “the interests and rights of the young people and […] the youth participation structures” at the CoE. OBESSU claims, instead, an increase in “investment in young people within the Council of Europe” and condemns the Secretary-General’s decision.