European and International Cooperation

European and International Cooperation

The countries are confronted with complex and closely interlinked challenges in both, society and economy. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) intensively cooperates with various international institutions, such as the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations, to find joint solutions. In addition, it has the lead responsibility for various bodies.

The European Union is more than merely a large and successful internal market. Within the EU, institutions and mechanisms for developing cross-border social policies have been successfully established. The European social model defines common social principles as well as values and objectives among European Union Member States. Equal opportunities for everybody, equality of all people, advancement of the young, participation of elderly people as well as integration in general have long been significant policy areas, also at European level.

The BMFSFJ actively contributes to various EU Directives and other Council initiatives within the scope of the Council of the European Union 'Working Party on Social Questions' and the 'Youth Working Party', which will eventually be adopted on the occasion of the regular meetings of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) and the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (EYCS) respectively.
In addition, the BMFSFJ regularly participates in meetings of the Expert Groups of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission respectively, such as the High Level Groups on Gender Mainstreaming as well as on Non-Discrimination, Equality and Diversity, the Expert Group on the Rights of the Child, the Erasmus+ Programme Committee, and also takes part in the EU Youth Conferences and the Meeting of Directors-General for Youth of the European Union.

The Division for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth at the Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the European Union represents the interests of the Federal Government in Brussels.

Germany seeks to encourage the global dialogue on social questions and seize related opportunities. The Member States address that task within the scope of the United Nations Commission for Social Development, which is the competent body for, inter alia, questions related to elderly people, youth, family affairs and social integration. The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women addresses all questions related to equality policy at international level. The BMFSFJ has the lead responsibility for both commissions and participates in negotiating the pertinent resolutions.

The Ministry is equally committed to the rights of elderly people as well as the living conditions of the young. It prepares and supervises the work related to the meetings of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing and participates in its meetings. Regarding the field of children's rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has set important standards for the encouragement, participation and protection of children and young people. On behalf of the Federal Government, the BMFSFJ is in overall charge of issuing periodical reports on the progress made in implementing children's rights in Germany and submits them to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The World Programme of Action for Youth with its three main topics 'Youth in the global economy', 'Youth in civil society' and 'Youth and their well-being' is a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and consequently a political declaration of intent. It comprises a political framework and practical guidelines for national activities and international support for improving the life circumstances of young people. Two UN Youth Delegates represent the youth in Germany at the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly and the Commission for Social Development.

By means of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe has created a protective instrument which is important for all citizens.

The BMFSFJ actively contributes to its implementation at the Committee on Equality and Non-discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the one hand as well as the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) on the other hand. The latter, in conjunction with the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ), which is the representative body of 30 different European youth organisations, forms the Joint Council on Youth (CMJ). This so-called co-management system enables a direct and balanced participation for representatives of youth organisations in the Council of Europe Member States' decisions regarding the field of youth, for instance by means of annual priorities and the budget allocations involved. In addition, the Ministry is an active member of the Council of Europe Expert Group on the Sofia Strategy, which aims at pursuing and implementing a strategy for the rights of the child.

The European Social Fund (ESF) is the European Union's most important labour market policy instrument for promoting employment in Europe. It is committed to the goal of creating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth within the EU so that more and better jobs will be created and particularly disadvantaged groups will be integrated into the labour market. From 2014 to 2020, an overall 7.49 billion euros of the ESF will be allocated to Germany. The BMFSFJ will have a share of 327 million euros at its disposal. Based on the central goals, the BMFSFJ has developed six ESF programmes on the whole (More details at www.esf.de, only in German language ).