On behalf of the Working group for the establishment of RYCO, the Secretaries General of the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO) have conveyed, the 1st of March 2016, to the heads of government and the Foreign Ministers of the Western-Balkans-6-Participants, the concrete proposals for the establishment of RYCO the Working Group had been mandated to elaborate.
The following documents, on which the Working Group had agreed by consensus, have been conveyed to the Western-Balkans-6-governemnts:
- A draft of the agreement and of the statute of RYCO as an annex of this agreement, put forward to be signed by the WB-6-Participants at the Western Balkans-Summit in Paris on 4th July 2016 and constituting the legal basis of the future RYCO. These documents include all the essential points concerning the mission, the structure, the scope of activities and the financial contributions for RYCO.
- Additionally, the Working Group has elaborated the following documents:
- RYCO Draft Overview: Context, mission and vision of RYCO
- RYCO Draft Activities: Definition of the different fields of activities and criteria of eligibility for activities supported by RYCO, and which is considered as the basis for the future guidelines of applicants for RYCO-projects
- RYCO Draft Organisation Chart: overview of the structure of RYCO
- RYCO Budget Proposal: detailed budget proposal for the first two years of RYCO
These additional documents are meant to constitute the working basis for the Governing Board and the Secretary General, which needs to be installed after the signing of the Agreement by the Western-Balkans-6-Participants in July 2016. The latter may also decide to integrate one or more of these documents as a proper annex to the legal documents mentioned above.
All together, the Working Group agreed on the content of the different documents except for one major point concerning finances, and in particular the calculation of the percentages of the financial contributions of the different Western-Balkans-6-Participants to the annual budget, and the ratio between the part provided to the budget on the one hand by the WB-6-Partcipants, and by international donors on the other hand. The Working Group has agreed that this open question needs to be clarified directly at governmental level as soon as possible. The document “RYCO Financial proposals” elaborates different options concerning the question of the finances and shall help to clarify the financial questions.
As the documents drawn up by the Working Group are proposals, they need to be finalized and approved by the governments of the Western-Balkans-6-Participants. After the last meeting of the Working Group there were also different suggestions from several governments which could no longer be discussed any more within the Working Group. In order to facilitate the future finalization of the proposals, these remarks have been gathered in a separate document and have also been transmitted to the governments of the WB6.
Ensuring the foundation of RYCO
When conveying the documents, the General Secretaries of FGYO, together with the Working Group, made also a suggestion concerning the next steps: In order to successfully prepare the path between now and the signature of the agreement on 4th July 2016, they proposed that a meeting of the chiefs of cabinet of the Western Balkans–6–Participants, with the participation of the French, German and Austrian governments as well as of the EU-Commission and the Franco-German Youth Office should take place within the next weeks. The aims of such a meeting could be:
- to reach an agreement on the financial question which the Working Group could not resolve and on the finalization of the draft documents
- to define and agree on a coordination mechanism for the phase until the Paris Summit, which will ensure that the legal procedures for the signing of the legal documents at the Paris Summit will be engaged and be finished in time by all WB-6-Participants.
This meeting could be a good opportunity to agree not only on the steps until the Paris Summit and on the distribution of roles in this process, but also to start thinking about concrete approaches for after the Paris Summit, in order to ensure the implementation of RYCO between the signature of the agreement by the Western-Balkans-6-Participants in July 2016 and 1st January 2017, when RYCO is set to be operational.
In their letter to the governments of the Western-Balkans-6-Participants, the General Secretaries of FGYO also
- informed that the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has invited the Working Group to a meeting in Paris, to take place between 14th and 17th March, and which includes a meeting with Harlem Désir, the French Minister for European affairs, scheduled for 16th March, in order to present the results of the Working Group to the French government.
reconfirmed that Franco-German Youth Office is ready and willing to further accompany and support the successful development of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office, within its capacities and with the agreement of the French and German governments.
- expressed their deep admiration to the Working Group for their excellent work which has resulted in a very fruitful and promising outcome. Concerning this successful working process, the General Secretaries also draw the attention to the great support we received from the Balkan Trust for Democracy / German Marshall Fund, the Robert Bosch Foundation and the ERSTE Foundation. Together with the Franco-German Youth Office they have financially supported the whole working process.
After the Serbian and Albanian government had initiated the whole process after the Berlin Summit in August 2014 and after the signing of the Joint Declaration by the Western-Balkans-Six-Participants, the elaboration of the concrete proposals by the Working Group is now an important new step towards a successful establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office. The whole working process, the discussions and the work within the Working Group were characterized by a very constructive spirit and by excellent cooperation between the WB-6-Participants on the one hand, between governments and civil society on the other hand, and finally also between WB-6-Participants and international stakeholders, with the common aim of achieving a major contribution for both youth and the region. Not only through the elaborated documents, but also through this good example of cooperation, can the Working Group therefore be seen as a promising example and encouraging inspiration for the future RYCO.
The Working Group was constituted in the aftermath of the “Joint Declaration on the establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans”, signed during the Western Balkans Summit in Vienna, on 27th August 2015, by the Prime Ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. It brought together government representatives and representatives from youth organisations from the Western Balkans-6. The participants met on four occasions: from 23rd to 27th November 2015 in Berlin, from 14th to 18th December 2015 in Tirana, from 25th to 30th January 2016 in Sarajevo, and from 16th to 20th February 2016 in Belgrade. In this time period, the members of the Working Group not only successfully elaborated concrete proposals for the establishment of RYCO, but also organized various information and consultation activities, in order to involve other organizations and stakeholders in the working process, and to ensure the visibility and transparency of the RYCO-initiative.
The Franco-German Youth Office has facilitated the working process as mandated by the Joint Declaration of 27th August 2015, on the basis of their experience in the field of intercultural learning, youth policy and also education in peace and remembrance. The documents handed in on March 1st were: RYCO Financial proposals; RYCO Draft Organisation Chart; RYCO Budget Proposal; RYCO Draft Activities; RYCO Draft Overview; RYCO Draft Agreement; and the RYCO Draft Statute.