Bishops call on EU to ensure disadvantaged, migrant, disabled youths' involvement in education, exchange programs

Updated: EU Bishops call on Brussels for more inclusive youth programs, cancel 40th anniversary celebrations over coronavirus

(Source: COMECE)

COMECE presented its recommendation paper on “Inclusive Youth and Education Programmes” during a working lunch held in Brussels on Wednesday 4 March 2020 and organized by the COMECE’S Youth Platform member, Don Bosco Youth-Net, together with Caritas Germany and the Bavarian Youth Council.

On the occasion of the ongoing negotiations on Erasmus and the European Solidarity Corp (2021-2027), the document provides technical recommendations to the EU on how to better involve youths with fewer opportunities (e.g. young people from poor families, with migration background, experiencing disabilities) in EU’s most known education and exchange programs.

In particular, the paper elaborated by COMECE and its partners, recommends to:

  • involve persons with fewer opportunities and special needs and civil society organisations in program planning, implementation and evaluation;
  • directly address target groups experiencing disadvantage and discrimination through accessible language and accessible documents;
  • Ensure awareness among evaluators and decision-makers about the special needs of disadvantaged groups.

Already in 2019 COMECE published a paper suggesting the EU to simplify the application processes for Erasmus funding.

The event saw the participation of representatives of youth organizations across Europe, together with Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot (EU Commission) and MEP Petra Kammerevert, who exchanged on young people’s first-hand experience and proposals.

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On Thursday 16 April 2020, in dialogue with the European Parliament, the COMECE Youth Platform, gathering Catholic youth organizations from all over Europe, will review the ongoing negotiations on the future Erasmus Program and the European Solidarity Corps.

Full text of the COMECE position paper on inclusive youth and education programs:

Update 14/3/20 12:59 CET: COMECE cancels Spring Assembly, postpones 40th anniversary celebrations

In the meantime, and in line with the “social distancing” precautious measures recommended by the health authorities to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus, COMECE has cancelled its Spring Assembly and postponed to October 2020 the reception for the celebration of its 40th anniversary.

The two events were expected to take place in Brussels on 25-27 March 2020, with the participation of H.Em. Card. Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, Mairead McGuinness, Vice President of the European Parliament, and all Bishop delegated to COMECE by EU Episcopates.

The decision was taken by H.Em. Card. Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, President of COMECE, in concertation with the rest of the Presidency and in line with the recommendations expressed by the World Health Organization and the measures recently taken by the Federal Government of Belgium.

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In order to ensure safety and health of COMECE staff and partners, General Secretary Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto also announced the cancellation of all meetings, workshops and group visits until further notice. The staff of COMECE will work from home through smart-working stations until Easter.

EU Bishops offer their apologies for the inconveniences caused by the above mentioned measures, and invite all persons, families and communities to pray and to behave responsibly, and in solidarity with each other, in order to avoid the spread of the virus – which already infected 135,000 persons from across 126 countries, causing the death of about 5,000 people.

On Thursday 12 March the COMECE President, together with his CCEE counterpart, H.Em. Card. Angelo Bagnasco, raised a common prayer to God for help, comfort and salvation.

They also joined Pope Francis in reiterating the closeness of the Church to all those struggling due to the current coronavirus outbreak: the victims, their families and all healthcare workers, volunteers and faithful who are in the frontline in caring for those affected, bringing them relief.

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(Source: COMECE)

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.