European youth work programmes and the development of critical youth citizenship
European youth work „European youth work“ should be understood in a broad sense, as the work with young people (mainly of an educational nature) which a) considers ‘Europe’ or ‘European issues’ as a key framework consideration or context, and/or b) uses funding from European youth work programmes or is organised centrally by one of the European youth work support institutions, and/or c) takes place between different countries in Europe (international) or in one country in Europe (national with a European dimension), and/or d) is conducted by organisations whose capacity has been built by European youth work programmes. In our understanding, any combination of at least two of these criteria would qualify a youth work project as European youth work. interpreted as political is under threat. It is becoming increasingly difficult to address sensitive and controversial issues of the day without negative consequences for individuals and organisations. In an increasing number of countries, including those in the EU, doing so could result in your organisation being excluded from funding, you yourself being accused of over-stepping your mandate as an educator and people in positions of authority withdrawing their trust. This is a political issue in and of itself. For many in the community of practice, „European youth work community of practice“ should be understood as being made up of all those actors and stakeholders who consider themselves part of the European youth work sector, including, among others, youth leaders, project carriers, youth organisations, ministries responsible for youth and civil servants responsible for youth policy, European institutions and their programmes of youth work support, National Agencies of the Erasmus+ and other youth-relevant education and mobility programmes, multipliers and youth activists associated with the institutional programmes, trainers and their representative associations or the pools they form and even young people themselves. an important element of their professional and vocational identities is engaging young people meaningfully as citizens, impacting not only their civic and political acumen but also their political agency.
In this context, it has become imperative for the European youth work community of practice to question what the political dimension of European youth work is, why it is necessary to think about it and work on it and how it is possible to do this in their day-to-day practice with young people in European projects.
Doing so raises six existential dilemmas for European youth work, as follows: