The Council of Europe (CoE) is dealing with a high-scale political and financial crisis in the organisation: Russia’s decision to stop paying its membership fees (and the risk of Russia’s withdrawal from the CoE), Turkey returning to its status as an ordinary contributor and the ‘zero nominal growth’ budget policy enforced by member states, are the key factors affecting CoE’s budget.
In order to deal with this situation, a contingency plan was proposed by the Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland. The CoE is planning a reduction of about 13% of its annual budget, and it is foreseen that this reduction will significantly affect the youth sector. The reductions on the budget -as per the proposal- would not be proportional for all the areas of work of the CoE but would especially harm the youth department. The plan is to completely remove financing of youth activities from the CoE’s Ordinary Budget as of January 2021 and set up a partial agreement (based on voluntary cooperation between member states; being up to them to contribute or not).
The European Students’ Union (ESU) is highly concerned about this proposal that would definitely have a negative impact on youth and youth organisations, putting in danger the continuity of their work defending the interests and rights of the young people and ruining all the youth participation structures that the CoE has developed so far.
Therefore, we are calling for member states to stand up for the youth sector of the Council of Europe, to advocate for the importance of working with and for young people and young human rights defenders and the rejection of the proposed contingency plan of the Secretary-General.