The priority regions for the international cooperation in the field of youth are countries of the Visegrad Group (Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic), Eastern partnership countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), Germany and France.
Visegrad Goup and Eastern Partnership
During the Czech Presidency of V4 countries (from 1. 7. 2011 to 30. 6. 2012) the first meeting of V4 and Eastern Partnership countries took place in May 2012 in Prague. Both sides informed about their national youth policies and set a specific Action plan of cooperation. (report from the meeting)
In September 2014 the Czech Republic hosted a Working Seminar on Youth Volunteering in the Visegrad Group and Eastern Partnership countries. (report from the seminar)
Bilateral and multilateral agreements
The Czech Republic also has signed intergovernmental bilateral or multilateral agreements, in which the youth field is cover in respective articles which facilitate exchange of documents on youth, mutual informing about conferences and other events relevant for the field of youth and support of youth NGOs on the principle of direct relations between these NGOs.
Another form of international cooperation in the youth field is agreements on the working holidays for young people. The Youth Department doesn’t facilitate this cooperation, just provides the information.
Bilateral governmental agreements concerning working holiday enable young people to obtain working holiday visa which is a residence permit that allows young people from 18 to 30 (or 35) years of age to undertake employment in the country issuing the visa for the purpose of supplementing their travel funds. For many young people, holding a working holiday visa enables them to experience living in a foreign country, without undergoing the usual costly expenses of finding work sponsorship in advance or going on expensive university exchange programmes. There are several restrictions on this type of visa: Many are intended for young travellers and as such have an age restriction (usually from 18 to 30/35). There are usually limits on the type of employment taken or the length of time the traveller can be employed. The visa holder is expected to have sufficient funds to live on while they seek employment. The visa holder should have some kind of health or travel insurance for the duration of their stay unless the country they apply for will cover them.
Agreement between the Government of the Czech Republic and the Government of the Republic of Korea concerning a Working Holiday Programme is valid from 1st June 2012. The Agreement between the Czech Republic and Canada promoting youth mobility is valid from 1st October 2007. Working Holiday Scheme Agreement between Czech Republic and New Zealand is valid from 1st September 2005. The same agreements concerning a working holiday programme for young people between the Czech Republic and Chile and between the Czech Republic and Israel are planned to be signed in 2015.
Cooperation between V4 and EaP countries in the field of youth
Cooperation between V4 and EaP countries in the field of youth has been implemented within the official programmes of the respective V4 country taking the presidency of the Visegrad Group (it is a one year rotating presidency which starts on the 1st July and finishes on the 30th June of the subsequent year) since 2011.
The cooperation was initiated by the Slovak Presidency (SK V4 PRES; 1. 7. 2010 – 30. 6. 2011) when a CDEJ (= European Steering Committee for Youth of the Council of Europe) member from Georgia – based on personal relations – was invited as an observer to an annual V4 meeting in Bratislava in May 2011. Afterwards, the Georgian minister of youth and sport invited the directors of V4 ministerial youth departments to Tbilisi in July 2011 to discuss the cooperation between V4 and EaP countries in the field of youth.
As a result, under the Czech V4 PRES (1. 7. 2011 – 30. 6. 2012) the representatives of EaP countries were invited to join the annual V4 meeting in Prague in May 2012. During this meeting the participants agreed on developing cooperation between V4 and EaP countries in the field of youth on three levels: among 1. ministries responsible for youth, 2. Youth in Action national agencies, and 3. national youth councils. One of the final products of such cooperation was a training seminar in Georgia organised by the Czech Youth in Action National Agency in 2013 aimed at creating partnerships between V4 and EaP countries which resulted into four successful projects granted through Eastern Partnership Window of the Youth in Action Programme.
Under the succeeding Polish V4 PRES (1. 7. 2012 – 30. 6. 2013) in Sulejowek, Poland, in April 2013 the Comparative Study of the Situation of Youth in the Countries of the Visegrad Group which covered participation and decision making, volunteerism, non-formal education as well as employment and entrepreneurship was introduced (Ewa Krzaklewska; Council of Europe 2013). The V4 and EaP participants evaluated the results of the cooperation in a youth policy development.
In the annual V4 and EaP annual meeting under the Hungarian V4 PRES (1. 7. 2013 – 30. 6. 2014) in Visegrad in March 2014 the V4 and Georgian participants evaluated the results of the cooperation. It was for the first time when an idea of signing the Memorandum of Cooperation between V4 and EaP Countries in the Field of Youth was heard. Slovakia and Georgia took there their responsibility for drafting the text of Memorandum.
Under the Slovak V4 PRES (1. 7. 2014 – 30. 6. 2015) Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministries of Countries of Visegrad Group Responsible for Youth and the Ministries of Countries of Eastern Partnership to European Union Responsible for Youth in Youth Field was signed in Bratislava in June 22, 2015 (Memorandum.pdf). The Czech Republic supported the Slovak V4 PRES by organising a thematic working seminar for V4 and EaP countries on volunteerism of young people in Prague in September 2014 in a close cooperation with SALTO EECA and the Czech Erasmus+ National Agency (Centre for International Cooperation in Education).
The current Czech V4 PRES (1. 7. 2015 – 30. 6. 2016) organised “Youth Policy and Youth Work: Working Seminar on Cooperation between Visegrad Group, Romania and Eastern Partnership Countries" on October 6 – 7, 2015 which resulted in a joint action plan of cooperation between Visegrad Group and Eastern Partnership countries in the youth field. (Framework Action Plan: 2015 - 2017 Action Plan of V4 and EaP coordination - youth.pdf). The priority of the Czech V4 PRES in the youth field was to enable Romania to join the cooperation between V4 and EaP countries in the field of youth as an equal partner in so-called V4+ format on request of the Romanian Deputy Minister responsible for youth. This is why a Romanian delegation took an active part in this seminar. Moreover, an annual V4 and EaP meeting will be organised in May or June 2016.
All the annual and thematic V4 and EaP events were supported by Partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth, and SALTO Eastern Europe and Caucasus Resource Centre.