Quito Declaration: Young People Request Education and Employment to EU-CELAC Heads of State and Government

Young people from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean held a meeting last April in Quito, at the initiative of the EU-LAC Foundation, to discuss the causes and consequences of youth unemployment, a situation that is affecting 29.1 million young Latin-American people and 4.8 million Europeans.

Conclusions of the workshop, which took place at the Andina University, were reflected in the Quito Declaration, a document that will be presented by representatives of the CELAC-EU Youth to the Heads of State and/or Government during the EU-CELAC Summit next June in Brussels.

The EU-CELAC Youth Days about Decent Employment and Education, the first of this kind, were organised by the EU-LAC Foundation, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, country that currently holds the Pro-tempore Presidency of CELAC.

Experts from the International Labour Organisation, European organisations and the academic world, have shared their experiences with the participants.

Speaking to reporters in the margins of the workshop, the President of the EU-LAC Foundation, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said that youth unemployment rates are untenable in some countries and highlighted the importance of initiatives to improve the economy through investment programmes, which, in the medium term, could drive to economic growth and job creation.

Moreover, she considered appropriated to jump-start and improve vocational training in the UE and in the CELAC region; this would lead the young to the path of labour and training development, thus assuring their future welfare.

The executive director, in turn, asserted that youth unemployment is not a consequence of the economic crisis but a "structural" problem that has been going on prior to the latter; therefore, he considered necessary the active engagement of the UE and CELAC’s governments in developing policies against it.

Valdez reminded that social cohesion is the centre of the bi-regional relationship, and in this sense, he stated that it is of no use talking about social cohesion if an important part of the society, such as youth, is kept alienated. Hence, it is important to listen to young people’s suggestions for solutions to the problems they are facing, such as education and employment the two major themes discussed in Quito.