The core idea of the project “youthNET – A network for European SEEtizens” was to gather a think tank of NGO managers and youth leaders who are active in the development of participation and citizenship of young people coming from European Union and South East Europe (SEE).
The target group had already collaborated for 7 years within the framework of two long term European projects youthNET SEE and youthNET- Creative partnerships with SEE to create a loose network fostering a sense of European Citizenship through capacity building, training and cooperative activities in the youth sector. To foster the European dimension of the initiative there were also Eastern European partners who knew each other from the project youthNET CIS involved.
“youthNET – A network for European SEEtizens” has aimed at developing this loose and project based civil society network into closer ties and to enhance coordination between partner organisations and eventually initiate the creation of an international organisation whose fundamental goal it is to support young people belonging to local NGOs to coordinate, improve, in both quality and quantity, disseminate and promote projects, actions, training tools and publications at both local and international level, promoting the Values of the European Union, and a sense of European Citizenship both in EU and SEE countries in the framework of the EU enlargement process. With additional funding from the Central European Initiative and partners’ contributions, as well as the use of diverse communication tools (skype meetings, online questionnaires, discussion boards, mailing lists) even a wider range of countries and organisations (including Ukraine, Belarus, Russia) could be included in the network building process.
In the course of the project leaders and key persons of each partner organisation have held several meetings to consider the possibilities of developing closer network ties, as well as strategies to bring about the harmonisation and union among the local actors at an international level, and develop a long term strategy and decision-making process to achieve the set goal.
The process initiated by this project culminated in May 2009 with the signing of a “Memorandum of Cooperation” between 23 partner organisations from EU, Southeast and Eastern Europe establishing youthNET as a multiregional multilevel network that shares a variety of experiences of civil society organizations from Southeast Europe, Eastern Europe & Caucasus, and European Union countries. An action plan for the next two years was decided by the first General Assembly of the network and the 5 members of the network’s coordination body elected to further work on the promotion of participation and active European Citizenship at a local level in a European East-West perspective.