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Youth and politics don't mix?

Evaluation of the Structured Dialogue in Germany Says Otherwise

01.08.2016 · C·A·P


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In a modern Europe facing mounting challenges from Brexit to a weakened Euro, from the refugee crises to the rise of Euro-skeptic nationalist movements within its member states, the Structured Dialogue has been a particularly vital tool for ensuring that young people are invested in politics, the European Union, and role they each play in their future. 

While the name Structured Dialogue might sound confusing at first, the underlying principles behind it are actually designed to foster understanding. Through the Structured Dialogue projects, young people come together and exchange thoughts, concerns, and ideas with political decision-makers through mutual discussion, actively including youth in the formation of European youth policies that directly affect them. The Dialogue is implemented by the European Commission and based on the varied topics and concerns of the EU Youth Strategy, which has the chief goal of improving participation of young people in Europe.  

For the second time, the Center for Applied Policy (C·A·P) provided scientific monitoring and an evaluation of the Structured Dialogue's implementation and project realization in Germany from 2014-2015. The evaluation focused on the perspectives of young people and the assessments of the project stakeholders, regarding questions about added value and safeguarding of the progress made through the Structured Dialogue projects to date.

The C·A·P examined a variety of projects within the context of the Structured Dialogue. When asked what topic areas they covered in their projects, young participants most frequently stated refugees and asylum (41%) followed by youth participation, youth work, and youth politics (40%); and school, education, vocational training, and university (33%). Other cited topics of importance during the Structured Dialogue projects included trade, the economy, and fiscal policy as well as the environment, energy, and sustainability along with war and peace and crisis and conflict, among others.

While discussing these compelling and current themes with political decision makers, young participants also had the chance to work on their public speaking, foreign language, and debating skills. 73% of young participants agreed that their involvement in the Structured Dialogue projects benefited them personally in some way, and 27% stated that this was the case to some extent. When asked if they had fun during the projects, 98% of youth either partially or definitely agreed, an important factor when it comes to sparking young people’s interest and continuing their engagement with the Structured Dialogue and politics more generally speaking.

One thing that both young participants and project leaders hope to see in the future is a greater commitment from politicians regarding the outcomes of the dialogues they have with youth. They also hope to receive more responses and feedback from political decision-makers, even following the conclusion of the Structured Dialogue events. While there is room for growth in this area, the Structured Dialogue certainly provides the right framework for ensuring fruitful discussions that can lead to action for young people now and hopefully for generations to come.

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Eva Feldmann-Wojtachnia, Barbara Tham:
The Structured Dialogue in Germany – added value and safeguarding
Evaluation report on the second phase of the implementation within the framework of the EU Youth Strategy in Germany (2014-2015)


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