Illustration by Daniela Nunes


The European Year of Youth 2022

 by Lorena Baric 


The European Union did something special for young people in 2022: European Year of Youth (EYY). Its goal was to help young people have more and better opportunities for the future. This was especially important because the pandemic has been really hard on young people - it's affected their jobs, their mental health, and more.



Young people in Europe have been affected by the pandemic in many ways. One major way is through the economy. Many young people have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, making it harder for them to make ends meet. Additionally, the closure of non-essential businesses and social distancing measures have made it harder for young people to find new jobs. This has also affected the ability of young people to access education and training. Another way that young people have been affected by the pandemic is through their mental health and well-being. The stress and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, as well as the isolation and lack of social interaction, have led to increased rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns among young people. Additionally, the pandemic has also limited the ability of young people to engage in social and extracurricular activities, which can have a negative impact on their physical and emotional well-being. It has also limited opportunities for young people to travel, learn from different cultures, and create international friendships.

The pandemic has highlighted the disparities and inequalities that already existed for young people in Europe, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with fewer opportunities. However, young people have shown immense solidarity during these times. They stepped up to help their communities by volunteering or providing other forms of assistance. They organised fundraising efforts to help those affected by the pandemic. Many young people used innovative and creative digital solutions to help, either through organising online communities, sharing information, or offering emotional support to one another. These are just a few examples of how young people in Europe have shown solidarity during the pandemic. Overall, it shows that young people are active and engaged citizens, willing to step up and help others during difficult times.

2022 was proclaimed the European Year of Youth as a way to show appreciation to young people but also to highlight them as important drivers of a European shared future. With the European Year of Youth, the European Union was striving to give young people more and better opportunities for the future. European Commission President von der Leyen announced 2022 to be the European Year of Youth to boost support for the young generation at the very moment it needs it most. To use President von der Leyen’s words "Europe needs all its young people".

The European Year of Youth was made with the help of young people themselves. They were working together with the EU and other organisations to make sure that the year was something that will really resonate and support young people. 

Since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, it has become even more important to mobilise Europe’s young people. The European Year of Youth was also a way to show support for other young people in countries like Ukraine. With the Year's activities, the EU showed solidarity with Ukraine and highlighted the importance of European values such as unity, peace, democracy, and the rule of law. 

The objectives of the European Year of Youth were:

  • Renewing the positive perspectives for young people and drawing inspiration from their actions, vision and insights  
  • Supporting young people, especially those with fewer opportunities to become active and engaged citizens and actors of change 
  • Promoting opportunities for young people in a green, digital and inclusive world  
  • Encouraging the inclusion of the youth perspective into all relevant policies and matters.

The European Year of Youth had eight policy areas of focus:

  • European learning mobility and education; 
  • Employment and inclusion; 
  • Policy dialogues and participation; 
  • Green; 
  • Digital; 
  • Culture; 
  • Health, well-being and sport; 
  • Youth and the world.

Under each of these areas, the EU had initiatives for young people, of which you can read more in our articles. 

Overall, the European Year of Youth was a successful year that provided many opportunities for young people to have their voices heard and play a role in shaping the future of the EU.

Read our articles to learn about specific initiatives during the year and visit the website to see what happened during the European Year of Youth (hyperlink the page). In 2023, the Communication on the legacy of the European Year of Youth was published. Read it to see what follow-up actions are planned!

Communication on the European Year of Youth 2022








 Issue 34

 Young people in the spotlight



Lorena is an editor of Coyote magazine, a writer, and a youth information worker.