|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.21, 24.5.01, p4|
YOUTH organisations have accused education chief Viviane Reding of reneging on a pledge to issue a White Paper on how the EU will tackle problems such as the high unemployment faced by Europe's young people.
The Luxembourg Commissioner is said to be quietly dropping plans for a comprehensive blueprint in favour of a communication on the issues, despite months of consultation in all 15 member states.
"Asking for the opinions of young people and then not taking them into account would send a very bad signal," said Henrik Söderman, president of the European Youth Forum, which has been representing young people in Europe for nearly 40 years. "She is risking losing her credibility as the Commissioner for youth."
Reding promised to draw up a youth White Paper when she became Commissioner in 1999. But the European Youth Forum believes she has now decided to propose a much weaker communication.
Jillian Hallet, the Economic and Social Committee's rapporteur on youth issues, said she too had been told that the White Paper could be scrapped.
"Given the amount of time that we have all put into this I am very unhappy," she added.
Both Hallet and the European Youth Forum say a communication is not enough and would be too easy for member states to ignore.
"The White Paper would be a high-calibre political commitment from the side of the Commission that they are paying attention, that they want to solve the problems that affect young people," said Söderman.
Nevertheless, Commission President Romano Prodi underlined last Monday that he still believed there would be a White Paper. In a speech at a Brussels youth convention, he said it would be published later this year.
However, Christophe Forax, Reding's spokesman, told European Voice that the format of the document is yet to be finalised.
"The important point is not whether it will be called a White Paper or a communication," he said. "The important thing is the content."
The row marks a serious breakdown in relations between the Commission and the European Youth Forum, which is funded by the EU executive.
It complains that Reding is ignoring its views, but the Commission says the forum has been obstructing rather than helping in drawing up a paper.
"I have not seen any good contributions so far from these official representatives of young people," said Forax.
Hallet said the White Paper, due to be published in the second half of this year, was the victim of a lack of commitment in the Commission to youth issues.
"I believe they have simply not been putting the work necessary into this," she said.
Reding is due to discuss her plans with education ministers at their next meeting on Monday, 28 May.
Youth organisations have accused education chief Viviane Reding of reneging on a pledge to issue a White Paper on how the EU will tackle problems such as the high unemployment faced by Europe's young people.
|Subject Categories||Culture, Education and Research, Geography|