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Time for Inclusion in the multicultural Europe: looking at Youth and Family from a comparative window


Background. The need to promote the principles of equality, equal opportunities and non discrimination through policies and programmes has been considered a priority both in the Council of Europe (CoE) and in the European Commission (EC) since their creation.

The Council of Europe's involvement in the development of the principle of Equality dates back to 1950, to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The framework was later complemented by the Social Charter (from 1961 and revised in 1996), which guarantees social and economic human rights.

At the 7th Conference of European Ministers responsible for Youth, held in September 2005 in Budapest, the Resolution on the Priorities of the Council of Europe's Youth Sector for 2006-2008 was accepted. The resolution puts an emphasis on a number of priorities, including the "promotion of intercultural dialogue" and "facilitating the access of young people to working life and to social rights".

In this context, major emphasis has been put on the European Youth Campaign on Diversity, Human Rights and Participation (2006-2007), conceived in the spirit of the 1995 Campaign "All Different - All Equal", (http://alldifferent-allequal.info/).

Also the European Union has been committed to the fight against discrimination for long time. At the beginning the main focus was the prevention of discrimination on the basis of nationality and gender, while, more recently, the focus has enlarged in response to the demand from civil society generally and the changing needs of European society, to include other forms of discrimination. New powers for combating discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, disability, age or sexual orientation were conferred under substantive amendments to the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997, together with a strengthening of those already agreed in relation to discrimination in general.

The broadening of the competencies of the EC institutions led to the passing of the anti-discrimination Directives 2000/43/CE (Racial Equality Directive) and 2000/78/CE (Employment Equality Directive), the so called Equality Directives, providing everyone in the EU (citizens and Third Country nationals) with a common minimum level of legal protection against discrimination.

With specific regard to the youth field, the EC's new Youth in Action Programme (2007 - 2013) complements the general European equality policies, stressing, among its priorities, the access by young people with fewer opportunities to its activities and the promotion of cultural diversity.

This paper deals with the implementation of the European Antidiscrimination policy and its impact on Vulnerable Young People and Their Families, providing a Comparative Perspective and suggestions for next practices and further Inclusion policies.

Purpose. This paper aims to give scientific evidence on whether and how the implementation of Eu Antidiscrimination Directives (Directives 2000/43, 2000/78 and 2002/73) as well as the youth inclusion polices within Member States can be considered a turning point in the European Union's commitment to enhance the inclusion in the access to public services, goods, education, health assistance for vulnerable Youth and families.

This paper includes (a) case studies, person-centred best practices and reports outlined in my work as Youth Trainer on Human Rights in Italy and abroad as well as (b) the first outcomes and material of my PhD research in "Law and Society" focused on the impact of the implemented antidiscrimination legislation towards vulnerable minorities.

The main question to be answered is why the new Antidiscrimination Directives and the related National Legislation implemented mean an effective tool for enhancing social inclusion of vulnerable youth (and families).

Method. The method used is a combination of socio-legal analysis of the implemented policies together with a) quantitative data, based both on first and secondary data analysis, b) qualitative research, through 100 questionnaires and 50 semi-structured interviews. The interviews and questionnaires are divided into three parts: "Knowledge of the European Antidiscrimination and Integration Polices", "Experiences of Exclusion ", "Expectations and Recommendations".

The research on the field, which will last eight months, started during the "Youth Research Seminar on Equal Opportunities for All" held in Budapest at the end of 2007 and will finish in June 2008. People interviewed are young researchers and youth stakeholders (youth operators, under graduate students, young unemployed) coming from EU Countries and Third Countries and involved in the inclusion of minorities and/or themselves belonging to racial ethnic, religion minorities. Their age is between 15 and 30. Many of them are members of Ngos actively involved in the youth sector on a voluntary basis, while the rest of them is target of specific programmes (e.g. employment services, inclusion programmes addressed to minority youth, etc ).

After an analysis of the main instruments introduced by the "Equality Directives", the paper will focus on their significance through case studies reporting successful cultural responsive methodologies and projects aimed to include proactively marginalized Youth groups jointly with their families:

  • interventions for the integration of Roma Young people through the cooperation with Roma Families in Germany, Italy and Albania. The concept of "effective accommodation" in practice,
  • interventions for the re-integration of Young ex offenders in Italy and Northern Ireland,
  • I Giovani per I Giovani/ Youth for Youth (Peer Education): promoting the sense of belongingness of Youth migrants and their families in Italy, Germany, Albania. The challenge to coordinate migration polices and return policies.

Key findings. Partial data, disaggregated by gender, age, geographic origin and occupation, have been collected in the first three months of research through 20 interviews and 35 questionnaires. Till now two main outcomes are coming into being:

the first underlines the gap between the perception of discrimination and the legal concept of discrimination in the Eu documents; the second one gives voice to the intervieweds' main assumption according to which an interruption of the "magic circle" of exclusion is possible, even if not easy, thanks to specific polices of social cohesion. They also believe that the enhancement of equality and inclusion of Young people has a direct positive impact on their family's well being in terms of opportunities and chance and self-esteem and vice versa.

The results sum up the main obstacles to the effective integration of disadvantaged youth, among which the difficult access to information (even though they are the target group of many inclusion polices).

As disadvantaged young people feel that their rights are not represented properly in the political debate, they react by escaping any political participation and by getting more involved in social participation. Finally, with regard to the questions listed in the third part of the questionnaires and interviews, some recommendations have been drafted: 1) request to disseminate information on youth opportunities in rural area, in vocational schools, in places of informal socialization of young people (pubs, discos, etc.) 2) promote the recognition of vocational and non formal learning qualification and curricula 3) support of work activities, self-employment and training through incentives and the creation of a network of interested operators.

The source of information includes reports of specific projects realized in the frame of the EU Inclusion policy and surveys.

Key references

Bell, M. (2002). Anti-Discrimination Law and the European Union. Oxford University Press.

Centre for strategy and Evaluation Service (2007) Non-discrimination mainstreaming- instruments, case studies and way forwards.

Eurobarometer (2007). Discrimination in the European Union.

Contacts: Bello Barbara Giovanna, Department of Philosophy and Sociology of Law - University Statale di Milano, E-mail: bgbello@libero.it; barbaragbello@gmail.com, Phone 0039 349 4217715.


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