The Netherlands welcomes the Youth Action Plan for EU’s External Action

This week, the European Commission presented its first-of-a-kind ‘Youth Action Plan for EU’s External Action’. The Netherlands appreciates the plan for its high level of ambition and clear focus on action. We also value that the plan recognises the intergenerational dimensions of today’s global challenges. Young people must indeed be able to shape the solutions that will have an impact on their futures and the future of the planet. 


The plan resonates well with the Youth at Heart strategy and other Dutch priorities in the area of amongst others climate action, peace and stability, gender equality and SRHR. We also see important components of the joint Denmark & the Netherlands non-paper ‘A Youth-Centered Approach to EU External Action’ reflected in the plan.

Three pillars

The EU has formulated objectives and actions along the three pillars Engage, Empower and Connect. These pillars are mutually reinforcing one another, and make for an integrated approach to partnering with youth as leaders and partners not only of tomorrow, but of today. 

  • With its partnership to Engage, the Commission aims to strengthen civic and political participation, create platforms for regular dialogue with international youth, invoke mandatory consultation of youth in all Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) programming, protect young activists and human rights defenders, and foster participation of youth in peace processes. Thereby, the EU recognizes its own responsibility in creating space for youth in international fora and diplomacy.
  • To Empower youth, the EU presents itself as a key player in the area of education (including vocational training, Comprehensive Sexuality Education and education in humanitarian settings), as well as entrepreneurship and job creation. The Netherlands welcomes the launch of the ‘Youth Empowerment Fund’ as a pilot to directly support grassroots youth-led organisations and initiatives.
  • Finally, the EU will invest in Connecting youth from Europe and other continents. We look forward to see the arrival of initiatives such as the ‘Africa-Europe Youth Academy’ and the ‘Youth Europe Sahel’. The plans to increase mutually beneficial labour mobility will also be observed with interest.

Human rights

It is important that the Youth Action Plan draws on the European Pillar of Social Rights and EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy that stress the need for equal, full and meaningful participation of young people in public and political life. Youth – although at the forefront of change – are still too often underrepresented, contrary to the fundamental rights they have.

Team Europe

A Team Europe approach will be applied to implement the plan at national, regional and multilateral level. The EU will thereby adjust to the specific needs and circumstances in the different regions. We are interested to learn in the months to come how the manifold actions will be implemented. The Netherlands stands ready to contribute its part. 

The Youth Action Plan to EUs External Action belongs to all of us, youth, policy makers, academia and development practitioners alike!