Youth For Europe

Action 1.1 – Youth Exchanges

Action 1.1 of the European Union Youth in Action Programme offers the possibility for informal short-term exchanges aiming to bring together young people from different European countries coming from diverse educational, cultural, and social backgrounds to explore similarities and differences between their countries.

What is a youth exchange?
Through a youth exchange, young people from two or more countries are given the opportunity to learn about each other countries’ cultures while at the same time discuss and tackle various themes such as for example:

  • anti-racism
  • fighting drug and alcohol abuse
  • arts or music
  • information technology
  • local heritage
  • communications
  • sports

Through youth exchanges the participants are exposed to intercultural learning and they are provided with the right tools to form part of a unified. Exchanges do not necessitate reciprocity and a separate application has to be submitted for the second phase.

Who can participate?
Groups of young people aged between 13 to 25 and who are legally resident in an eligible country can participate in the YOUTH Programme. Exchanges can take place between two or more countries bearing in mind that all exchanges must involve at least one EU member state.
Young persons, youth organisations, youth centres and Local Councils are eligible to take part in youth exchanges.

Who are the partners in a youth exchange?
The bare necessities of setting up an exchange are a group of young people who arise with an idea to encounter youths from other European countries. Most exchanges spring from spontaneous contacts; however the Maltese National Agency can offer assistance in finding partners.
In bilateral and trilateral exchanges, an application for each of the groups should be submitted at the National Agency of the respective countries.

What are the general selection criteria?
Group size and duration:
Youth exchanges allow a minimum total of 16 and not more than 60 participants between all groups, group leaders not included. The exchange has to be balanced both in number of participants per each country and as regards to gender. Duration is from six to twenty-one days, including travel.

Group leaders
Each group should nominate group leaders who will be responsible for the smooth running of the project. Group leaders must seek active involvement of all participants throughout the project, from the outset to post-exchange follow-up. The project should contribute to the young people’s educational process and raise their awareness of the European/international context in which they live. Hence, the exchange has to comprise a package of non-formal education to be achieved with the development of a thematic concept which youths have to explore and press forward together. The chosen theme should as far as possible, be translated into concrete daily activities of the exchange.
The working methods during the exchange could include working in groups, field visits, simulation or role-playing games, round-table discussions, practical work, presentations, cultural and sport activities, etc.
The activities must aim to ensure participation of all young people on an equal basis, regardless of their language abilities or other skills.

An exchange is not…

  • statutory meetings of organisations;
  • holiday travel;
  • language courses;
  • school class exchanges;
  • academic study trips;
  • performance tours;
  • exchange activities which can be classed as tourism;
  • exchange activities which aim to make financial profit;
  • work camps;
  • sports competitions;
  • festivals.

What are multilateral exchanges?
Multilateral exchanges involve groups of young people from at least four Programme countries and must take place in one of the countries which would take the responsibility for the hosting arrangements. For multilateral exchanges, the host organization applies to its National Agency on behalf of all partners and will be provided with funds to cover all the concerned costs. Is an Advanced Planning Visit (APV) a must?
Yes. It is strongly advised that applicants do an advance planning visit to the host country and include it in the application. This visit should not take place until the application is approved and would normally last two days (travel excluded). An APV should take place in the country hosting the project and must involve one participant per sending group or two on the condition that the second one is a young participant.

How is an exchange project financed?
The grant is calculated on the basis of real travel costs and lump sums for all related costs including preparation, activities and exceptional matters. A comprehensive breakdown of amounts can be obtained from the Programme Guide and application forms.

Financial support available

Sending side:

  • 70 per cent of real travel costs
  • Fixed amount for preparation costs
  • Full contribution for an Advanced Planning Visit
  • Exceptional costs related to young people with special needs

Hosting side

  • Fixed amount to cover preparation costs
  • Fixed amount and flat rate per participant per day
  • Fixed amount and flat rate per participant per day
  • Fixed amount per project to cover activity costs
  • Exceptional costs related to youths with special needs

Action 1.2 – Youth Initiatives

A Youth Initiative is a project where young people participate actively and directly in activities of their own devising in which they play the key roles, in order to develop their initiative, enterprise and creativity. It is initiated, set up and carried out by young people themselves. It can give young people the chance to try out ideas through initiatives, which give them an opportunity to be directly and actively involved in planning and carrying out projects. Participation in Youth Initiatives is an important non-formal learning experience. It also provides young people with an opportunity to consider themselves as European citizens and to feel that they are contributing to the construction of Europe.
This Action supports projects designed at local, regional or national level. It also supports networking of similar projects in different countries, in order to strengthen their European aspect and to enhance cooperation and exchanges of experiences between young people. Projects developed by a single group in their country of residence are called National Youth Initiatives, whereas projects realised in common by two or more groups from different countries are called Transnational Youth Initiatives.
Transnational Youth Initiatives aim at exchanging and sharing good practices. These projects may involve young people’s mobility.

A youth initiative is not…

  • Youth Seminars, Youth Exchanges;
  • competitions, work camps;
  • activities which can be classed as tourism

What are the eligibility criteria?

The specific eligibility criteria applying to this Action are the following:

A National Youth Initiative is proposed by a group of young people from a Programme Country.
A Transnational Youth Initiative is based on a partnership of at least two partner groups from different Programme Countries of which at least one a EU Member State.
A (partner) group must be:

  • a non-profit organisation or association established in one of the Programme Countries; or
  • an informal group of young people.

A group must consist of at least four individuals, one of whom is the representative of the group and takes responsibility for submitting the application and signing the grant agreement. A coach may act as a representative.


  • Young people aged between 18 and 30 and legally resident in a Programme Country can participate.
  • Young people aged from 15 to 18 may be admitted if accompanied by a youth worker or a coach.

National Youth Initiatives and Transnational Youth Initiatives must last between 3 and 18 months including preparation, implementation, evaluation and follow-up.

A National Youth Initiative or a Transnational Youth Initiative can take place in any Programme Country.

A well-structured programme and timetable for the project must be provided. It must be clearly linked to the objectives set up beforehand.

It is important that the theme or area chosen to develop a Youth Initiative project is of interest and relevance to the group of young people themselves and also to the local community. Some examples of potential project themes are: art and culture, social exclusion, environment, heritage protection, youth information, European awareness, rural/ urban development, youth policies, health, anti-drugs/substance abuse, measures against delinquency, anti-racism/ xenophobia, disability, the elderly, homelessness, migrants, equal opportunities, peer education, unemployment, youth sports, youth leisure, media and communications. The range of possible themes for Transnational Youth Initiatives is as wide as for National Youth Initiatives.

The programme of a Transnational Youth Initiative should furthermore include detailed information about the activities to be organised both at national and transnational level (in all the countries concerned), specifying how each of the partner groups is involved in the preparation, realisation, evaluation and follow up of the project.

Action 1.3 – Youth Democracy Projects
Youth Democracy Projects aim to increase the active participation of young people in the life of their local, regional or national community or at international level by supporting their participation in the mechanisms of representative democracy.

A Youth Democracy Project is a project developed by a European partnership, allowing the pooling, at European level, of ideas, experiences and methodologies from projects or activities at local, regional, national or international level, in order to improve young people’s participation. Projects funded under this Action allow the creation of new networks and the exchange and dissemination of good practice in the field of youth participation.

The concept of active citizenship for young people implies full and complete participation in society, commitment and the ability to practise that citizenship. Therefore, the idea of a Youth Democracy Project is to recognise and support the various forms in which young people participate in their own environment, to enhance their relations with the mechanisms of representative democracy and to help them to take advantage of the available opportunities for participation. This can be achieved by projects encouraging a greater participation of young people in the mechanisms of representative democracy.

Youth Democracy Projects can for example aim at:

  • promoting the involvement of young people in participatory structures;
  • activities to develop all types of dialogue between public authorities and young people;
  • supporting mechanisms to develop all types of dialogue, in order to bring young people closer to political decision-making;
  • developing a dialogue which includes young people who are not members of organizations;
  • identifying and overcoming obstacles which prevent specific groups of young people from participating and fostering mechanisms which will encourage all young people to participate in decision-making processes.

What are the eligibility criteria?

The specific eligibility criteria applying to this Action are the following:

Partner groups
Projects must have a national and a transnational networking dimension. This means that:

  • projects must be based on partnerships from at least two different countries in order to fulfill the criteria of transnational networking;
  • in each country at least two different partners must be involved in order to fulfill the criteria of national networking.

A partner must be:

  • a non-profit organisation or association established in one of the Programme Countries; or
  • a local, regional or national authority involved in youth work, or
  • an informal group of young people.

In case of an informal group, one of the young people of the group (the representative of the group) takes responsibility for submitting the application and signing the grant agreement.

Young people must be aged between 13 and 30 and legally resident in a Programme Country. Any Youth Democracy Project must have a minimum of 16 participants.

The duration of the project, including preparation, implementation, evaluation and follow-up must be between 6 and 18 months.

The Youth Democracy Project must have a thematic concept, i.e. clearly focusing on the general priorities of the Youth in Action Programme, active participation of young people, cultural diversity, European citizenship or social inclusion or on the following topics:

  • the future of Europe; or
  • the political priorities identified in the framework of European cooperation in the youth field.