During the European Youth Forum's Council of Members (COMEM) in Brussels on 12-13 April, Patricia got elected to the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe.

The Erasmus Student Network is excited to nominate Patrícia Gonçalves as a candidate for the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe.

The Advisory Council on Youth is the non-governmental partner in the co-management structure which establishes the standards and work priorities of the Council of Europe’s youth sector and makes recommendations for future priorities, programmes and budgets.

It is composed by 30 youth representatives (20 from the European Youth Forum organisations and 10 from youth organisations in one of the 50 States Parties to the European Cultural Convention) that advise the Committee of Ministers on decisions related to youth.

Who am I?

Born and raised in the Netherlands to Portuguese parents, I am the fruit of a vibrant and diverse Europe. This experience made me a multicultural citizen from a very young age. It would only be fitting that I would join the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) a few years later.
My ESN adventure started in 2014 in the former European Youth Capital – Braga, Portugal. I was lucky enough to be recruited and mentored by very talented ESNers at that time and found myself soon being elected President of the local ESN association, and one year later National Board Member of ESN Portugal.
Over the past few years, I have dedicated myself to fostering ESN’s international advocacy strategies. Firstly by chairing ESN’s Education Committee (ICE), which is the body that builds the capacity of the network, with over 15,000 volunteers, in the fields of youth and education. Recently, I was appointed ESN’s External Representative towards the European Youth Forum for the upcoming two years, and in this position, I will continue building on the work of my predecessor, Carmen Mazijn.

My journey in the Advisory Council on Youth

Last September, I replaced Valentin Dupouey in the Advisory Council on Youth (AC) of the Council of Europe (CoE). Even though my first meeting was quite overwhelming, with the adoption of a long-standing recommendation on young refugees and their transition to adulthood, as well as setting the priorities for the CoE’s Youth sector for the upcoming years, I quickly got a hold of things and have, over the past months, followed a series of portfolios.

Media literacy
In the era of fake news and misinformation, coupled with the rise of populism, it is of utmost importance to safeguard the youth’s access to quality information as well as to build their media literacy skills. ERYICA (the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency), with the support of the CoE, created a Working group to develop a Quality Label to be awarded to Youth Information Services. I have been invited to join this Working Group for the coming year, to which I hope to bring relevant input.
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
My hometown is in the northeast of Portugal and, sadly, very disconnected from the rest of the country. This made me realise the impact that local and regional strategies can have in building active participation among (young) people. It was a natural step for me to help my colleague Sebastian in finding synergies between the work of the AC and that of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, particularly in building relations with the Youth Delegates. This cooperation already started bearing fruits as we had the Spokesperson of Gender and Youth Issues of the Congress attending our last AC meeting, and I will be attending April’s congress session - Stay tuned for more updates!

With the CoE, and particularly its Youth Department, facing enormous budgetary cuts, it is more important than ever before to showcase our work to the different CoE decision makers. I believe that building connections and advocating with different bodies in order to mainstream youth in the Council of Europe is the way to go. That is why I am currently developing a framework to target the different committees of the CoE´s Parliamentary Assembly and bring the work of the Advisory Council closer to the Parliamentary Assembly.

Why me?

I believe that my strategic mindset and knowledge of decision making processes in international institutions, which was further developed during my time as a trainee at the European Parliament, will be a valuable asset to the AC especially considering the current state of affairs of the institution.
Secondly, and not less important, I am extremely motivated to continue to be part of this unique platform of youth participation and youth empowerment. In the past months, I was impressed by what a team of 30 youth representatives with such diverse backgrounds can achieve. It is also rewarding to be in the center of the decision-making process and see the direct impact that our work can have on people’s lives. 

The values of the Council of Europe are very closely aligned with mine and those of my organisation. As you can see from my application , I have been a firm advocator for youth rights, capacity building and participation of all young people in policy making. On the same note, ESN has been involved in the work of the CoE for the past five years, by having members in the Advisory Council, developing its internal training programme with the support of the European Youth Foundation and regularly organising study visits.

Finally, being an external representative responsible for following on the work of the European Youth Forum and its member organisations, I understand the key role this platform has in the outreach of our message. A good example of this is the signed statement by the Party Political Youth Organisations concerning the Council of Europe budgetary situation. I would like to see such initiatives happening more often, not only at an ad-hoc stage but as an integral element in the continuous work of the AC. If elected, I will continue to push for a strong cooperation between member organisations of the European Youth Forum and the Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe.

You can contact Patrícia directly through her email: [email protected]