European Scouts and Guides Call to Action for the EU Elections

The Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting Movement

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts Europe Region supports 64 national Girl Guide and Girl Scout organisations in 41 countries, reaching more than 1.2 million young people. The Member Organisations work with young people on a range of topics, including girls’ rights, education, environmental issues and many more through non-formal education, leadership and advocacy programmes.

Scouting in Europe has over 2 million members in 40 Member Organizations across the continent. It empowers the development of young people so that they can achieve their full social, physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual potential as individuals and responsible citizens.

Voting in the 10th European Elections

From 6 to 9 June 2024, more than 365 million EU citizens in the 27 Member States will be called to the ballot box for the 10th European elections. European elections represent a crucial moment in our continental democracy: they give EU citizens a say in the political direction of the European Union. 

In a troublesome time for Europe, we face the European Parliament elections in 2024 amid many external and global challenges. In a multi-election year, 2024 could impact Member States' ability to deliver on policies such as the green transition, justice and human rights issues. This year's elections for the European Parliament could be a turning point in the balance between parties committed to European integration, democracy, and human rights and those questioning them. 

Young people in Europe have a significant opportunity to impact the political direction. This year, 5 Member States will allow 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote, and the EU has expressed strong political will to engage with young people. The Presidents of the European Parliament and the European Commission have made it clear that the EU institutions will listen to and address the concerns of younger generations.

Scouts and Guides all over Europe are active citizens, speaking out and taking action to tackle the many challenges in their communities. Voting for your European representatives and is a key part of being an active citizen. The following document captures the Scouts and Guides Call To Action for European decision-makers, as developed by the participants of both the European Scout Region and the WAGGGS Europe Region at the Youth Advocacy Training for Pluralistic Democracies, taking place in Mollina (Spain), between 18-24 September 2023.

The Call To Action includes five main areas. Each area consists of a set of recommendations that we wish MEP candidates to support in creating their manifestos, future work programmes and beyond. 


Youth Participation and Engagement

Young people will live with the impacts of decisions made during the upcoming Parliamentary term for many decades to come and should be given the opportunity for meaningful consultation in decision-making processes. 

A. Youth and decision-making

Young people aged 15 to 29 years old represent 18,4% of the European population. They will shape the future of our societies and therefore have a right to be heard. Increasing youth involvement in decision-making will benefit the overall society as young people open new perspectives. We consider MEPs to be the key stakeholders in implementing suitable programs.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Urge MEPs to create an EU youth delegate program. Furthermore, we ask that the youth be involved in all levels of democracy, such as youth councils. 
  • Deliver co-management structures to ensure meaningful youth participation for youth organisations and individuals. 
  • Apply a functional system to assess, resource, and monitor the impact of every policy and budgetary decision on young people (ie, adopt the Youth Test). These objectives should be accomplished by 2029.

B. Promoting democracy and democratic values

Maintaining democracy is an integral part of ensuring freedom, peace and equality. Reassuring these key values benefits the citizens of Europe and beyond.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Encourage governments on all levels to use their capacities in creating strong democratic systems. This can be achieved through political education as a part of the national curriculum, extra-curricular non-formal education, and the promotion of fundamental rights such as freedom of speech. 
  • Lower the voting age to 16 in elections for the European parliament. Promoting democratic values is a continuous process and a crucial part of democratic societies. The goal of lowering the voting age should be accomplished by the next European elections in 2029.

C. Promoting media literacy and critical thinking

Being informed on current developments is a crucial part of active citizenship. To have an accurate understanding of current affairs, critical thinking is a key skill of media literacy. In particular, minors and young adults have to develop these skill sets. We consider formal and non-formal educators to be the main stakeholders, along with tech companies such as Facebook, X (Twitter), Instagram, and TikTok.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Implement programmes of media literacy in various forms of curricula. We also ask the EU to develop a media literacy campaign. These actions should be taken as soon as possible.
  • Produce policy and legislative proposals in accessible language

D. Recognising young people as a key part of peacebuilding

Young people play an active role in reconciliation and open new perspectives. We consider peace as an essential requirement for social progress. Through empowering young people as peacebuilders,  communities across Europe and the world will benefit. Empowerment can be achieved through European funds to promote mobility between young peacebuilders and NGOs as capacity builders.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Implement accessible funds for international and intercultural exchange between young people so they can become the peacebuilders of today and tomorrow. This should be accomplished by the next European elections in 2029.

Quality Non-Formal Education

Non-formal education (NFE) is crucial for lifelong learning to support all aspects of a person’s life and well-being. Yet, it is too often under-prioritised and under-recognised favouring Formal Education. Most of the time, formal education is not enough for young people to thrive in the modern world of work. A combination of formal and non-formal education equips young people best for the changing world of work.

A. Non-Formal Education awareness raising and recognition

Learning by doing through youth organisations and volunteering complements the delivery of formal education and decreases the skills mismatch by allowing young people to develop adaptable life and interpersonal skills.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Promote the integration and recognition of non-formal education in national education policies. Advocate for NFE as a tool for youth to develop soft skills and learn how to be active leaders committed to environmental protection and social progress in their local communities.
  • Implement a system to recognise and validate competencies gained through NFE to be recognised throughout all EU Member States.
  • Develop and implement an EU Framework for Quality Standards in NFE programmes.
  • Through a Parliamentary Recommendation, all Member States should be encouraged to include NFE in educational legislation, enabling and promoting the collaboration of schools with the NFE sector.
  • Provide skills-building, mentoring, and networking opportunities to help young people build the skills needed to secure a holistic livelihood and successful career.

B. Volunteer protection and training

To promote societal recognition and the value of learning and developing soft and life skills gained through volunteering, validation and recognition of volunteering experience in recruitment processes is crucial.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Develop a public system of recognition of the competencies and importance of volunteer work to improve the employability of young people and for recognition in the university’s ECTS credits.
  • Appoint a competent team of experts for an Advisory Panel on youth work, volunteerism and the implementation of volunteers in civil society.

C. Inclusive Non-Formal Education

Education systems need to respond to the diverse needs and requirements of young people today. Education, training, and access to employment are powerful drivers for empowering people, social mobility, and reducing vulnerabilities and inequalities.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Put more focus on building a system of inclusive non-formal education against discrimination, that supports a multicultural and diverse program accessible to everyone.
  • Recognise non-formal education programmes as a fundamental catalyst for fostering peace and human rights.
  • Harness digital evolution to support young people in strengthening their digital skills and literacy.
  • Provide safer spaces for open dialogue and confront stereotypes and discrimination, to ensure an evolving approach to equitable NFE.

D. Funding

To be as effective as they can be, formal and non-formal education systems need to be well funded. Education systems should be prioritised in member state budgets to reach the most marginalised communities often excluded from mainstream education.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Ensure and encourage operational, unrestricted funding of NFE programming from EU member states.
  • Provide youth organisations with funds to develop non-formal education programs and give youth access to these opportunities.
  • Target funding to support the most marginalised learners, including families with no economic means, girls, children with disabilities, and displaced and refugee children.


Environmental Sustainability & Climate Justice

There is a fundamental interconnection between social justice and climate action. As youth associations, we are trying to help the most affected people and areas suffering from the effects of climate change with our projects. To do so, we need the necessary financial support.

A. Climate cooperation and solidarity

World Scouting and Guiding, in the interest of safeguarding young people’s futures, wants to stress the importance of the climate crisis and the 2015 Paris Agreement, limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels through decisive and timely action.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Support youth organisations with funding under existing programmes to organise projects for people and areas deeply impacted by the effects of the climate crisis. Those could include climate refugees, people experiencing social issues due to the climate crisis's impact, and people and areas affected by natural catastrophes (e.g. floods, heatwaves, drought).
  • Implement effective and safe routes, accommodation, support, and fair processing procedures for those affected by climate migration.
  • Support the implementation of legal instruments that ensure a healthy environment and a sustainable future.
  • Encourage Member States to meet their targets of distributing loss and damage funding for Global South and island nations affected by climate change and to support vulnerable groups through proactive climate adaptation.

B. Climate Education

Young people need to understand their impacts on the natural environment and have the necessary skills and knowledge to tackle the many challenges in their communities.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Ensure the protection of our natural environment through the capacity building and empowerment of young people.
  • Encourage Member States to recognise, promote and fund non-formal environmental education, ensuring that the skills gained from alternative education are recognised and accredited through formal educational pathways and the world of work.

C. Infrastructure and Transport

Young people need to be able to travel easily and with low costs and low emissions within the EU.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Intensify and set up new routes for night trains to connect big European cities and high-speed connections between capital cities to enable an easier and more affordable way to travel and be a realistic alternative to air travel.
  • Enforce a unified booking system for train tickets and the same rights for passengers as for air travel to simplify the booking process when travelling through Europe.

D. Agriculture and Nature

Scouts and Guides are deeply connected with the nature surrounding us, and protecting nature and restoring ecosystems is important in our work as a youth organisation shaping the future of young people. Protecting our natural environment and preserving wildlife and biodiversity is fundamental to our beliefs in Scouting and Guiding. For us, nature is our classroom.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Promote and facilitate outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and trekking. Protecting European trail routes enables young people to participate in outdoor activities and encourages climate education and skills built in the great outdoors.

Peaceful and Inclusive Societies

The European Union must go further to ensure no person is left behind regardless of age, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability, migration status, racial or ethnic background, religious status, etc.

A. Gender equality and LGBTI

Scouting and Guiding is open to all young people, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation or expression. Sadly, this isn’t the case across all member states and bodies of the European Union.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Build upon the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020 - 2025 to fulfil gender equality and women’s empowerment needs across the EU, ensuring intersectionality is a key principle of its implementation
  • Provide statistical evidence of the gender pay gap and raise awareness of existing differences. This will lead to a reduction in pay inequalities across genders. 
  • Ensure the renewal of the FEMM Committee and Youth and LGBTI Intergroups, and introduce a Social Equity Committee in the European Parliament.

B. Human Rights

Vulnerable people, such as those facing multiple forms of discrimination, will have a positive effect on the reduction of discrimination, crime rates, and social inequalities.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Consolidate the protection of human rights inside and outside the EU.
  • Develop, resource, and implement an overarching Intersectionality Strategy to bridge overlaps causing disproportionate harm to those affected by multiple forms of discrimination.
  • Provide housing and financial support for refugees to support their social integration. 
  • Assess, renew, implement, and resource Equality Strategies such as the LGBTQIA+ Strategy, Gender Equality Strategy, Anti-Racism Strategy, and the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This includes promoting legalisation and encouraging European member states to adopt legislation for equal access to all human rights.
  • Renew the mandate of the European Commission Equality Taskforce and provide increased resourcing for further accountability, transparency, oversight and performance.
  • Integrate human rights education and monitor the implementation of the World Programme for Human Rights Education to combat harmful practices and policies that interfere with the protection of several human rights.

C. Children’s Rights

Promoting children’s rights and participation in EU member states will lead to an improved sense of citizenship, engagement and empowerment in children and young people.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Monitor the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by creating task forces that ensure the act is upheld in each country.
  • Promote meaningful youth participation in decision-making (co-decision making) in each country at local and national levels (such as national youth councils). 

D. Mental Health

Individuals who suffer from poor mental health require easy-to-use, quick, accessible, and inclusive services.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Ensure that young people are educated about mental health. Encourage each member state to create an online platform to support youth’s mental health, and include mental health in their national curriculum.
  • Take a multi-stakeholder approach to mental health, working with education, healthcare and welfare services to promote good mental health and prioritise prevention.

E. Disabilities

Individuals who face disabilities deserve equitable access to services that are rapid, simple, inclusive, and easily accessible.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Ensure accessible information is provided on EU electoral and policy processes and decisions for those with disabilities or those facing language barriers, including through translation into all recognised languages, braille, audiobook, and child-friendly formats.
  • Prioritise equal participation to effectively protect persons with disabilities from any form of discrimination and violence.

Robust Economy and Welfare Systems

Young people need to be prepared for a strong and holistic livelihood to tackle the world of work, and European Union member states need to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills that can be adapted to the jobs of tomorrow.

By 2029, we call on the European Union to:

  • Implement just economic transition: invest in research and higher education, with a focus on sustainability, inclusivity and justice.
  • Encourage joint planning, investment, and implementation that spans government ministries and multiple sectors to ensure that welfare systems are resilient and provide continuity of learning when faced with unexpected shocks or emergencies.
  • Encourage Member States to pledge to the Voluntary Solidarity Mechanism supporting the protection and relocation of asylum seekers and refugees. 
  • Ensure all Member States provide universal health coverage for their citizens with comprehensive, equitable, affordable, acceptable and safe health services.
Share this page