Since its establishment in 1998, Euroregion Baltic has supported and implemented projects and activities which targeted children and youth in a variety of cooperation areas, e.g. education and exchange activities. Drawing competitions such as We Are from the Sea, ecological youth camps, sports events like Euroregion Baltic Youth Games, Youth Film project, Green Circle Schools and Ice Hockey tournament are only some of the several projects that can serve as a good example of the activities in question. Youth issues in relation to cross-border cooperation are of high priority in most of the ERB member regions that agreed on prioritizing youth cooperation and the creation of a youth structure within the ERB strategy for 2007 and 2008
The first step into institutionalising youth cooperation was taken when around 80 young participants from the Danish, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian and Swedish regions in Euroregion Baltic attended the ERB Youth Conference on 20 April 2007 in Elblag and took part in the three parallel workshops on Environment, Intercultural dialogue and Democratic participation. Later that year, on 6th December 2007 the Council of Euroregion Baltic established a new structure within the organisation: ERB Youth Board, responsible for the promotion and facilitation of cooperation actively involving youths from around the euroregion
The Youth Board, consisting of girls and boys between 16 and 30 years of age who represent the eight regions in Euroregion Baltic, also takes active part in the ERB decision-making process. The organisational structure of the ERB Youth Board is specified in the ERB Statutes and has not been significantly changed since the establishment of the Board in 2007. The Youth Board elects a Chairperson and a Vice-Chairperson among its members on a yearly basis. The decisions are based on consensus with the presence of more than 50% of the Youth Board members. The Youth Board contributes to the ERB Biennial Action Plan and submits activities and related financial reports to the ERB Executive Board. The Chairperson of the Youth Board is a member of the ERB Executive Board and has a right to vote
The work of the Youth Board was inaugurated on 22nd February 2008 in Elbląg (PL) when its representatives took part in the meeting of the Euroregion Baltic Council. A day later, the ERB Youth Board convened its first official meeting and elected Ms Anna Grazova from Kalniningrad Region as first Youth Board Chairperson. During subsequent on-line meetings, members of the Youth Board discussed the activity plan which was later submitted to the ERB Executive Board and finally approved on 25th April 2008 during a meeting in Svaneke, Bornholm. The activity plan defined the following vision concerning the development of youth cooperation in the ERB: In 2015 Euroregion Baltic will be a region where the youth agenda is an important and integral part of the ERB cooperation, well rooted in the Euroregional and regional structures, and reflected in ERB contributions towards EU policies. Based on this vision, the Youth Board established a series of short and long terms goals of their cooperation. The short terms goals included the creation of a well -functioning operational structure that would be capable of developing and implementing cooperation projects. As a result, the Youth Board would be able to engage youth in the cooperation and promote their perspective and interests in the ERB.
As for the long term goals, the Youth Board was to provide the opportunity for the youth to be involved in the ERB activities, act as a voice for youth in the ERB, increase interaction between regional authorities and the youth, encourage closer cooperation between the youth and local government, eliminate cultural prejudice and facilitate youth mobility
During 2008 and 2009 the Youth Board managed to create a well-functioning structure. With its own internet website and a logo, it became an effective organisation promoting youth issues in the ERB during various seminars and conferences within and outside ERB area
From 2009 to 2011 the Youth Board managed a joint project within the South Baltic Cross-border Cooperation Programme entitled Youth Cross-border Cooperation and Communication Yc3. The aim of the project was to give young people around the South Baltic area an opportunity to influence politicians on subjects of importance, and to provide a platform for networking where young people would be able to exchange ideas and cooperate on various youth initiatives
In each partner region, youth meetings on various subjects were organized, such as: environment and energy, intercultural dialogue, tourism, transport, entrepreneurship, volunteering and non-formal education. The Youth Summit was organised, which dealt with youth participation in politics and implementation of EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region
The outcomes of the project were: project website, youth vision, youth action plan and youth influence concept. Young people had opportunity to know their peers from neighbouring regions and get informal contacts. They gained knowledge useful for people entering labour market and competences to better participate in public life. Moreover, ERB Youth Board took part in some consultations published by the European Commission.
Euroregion Baltic Youth Board was temporarily supported by volunteers in the framework of European Voluntary Service projects. In 2012 the project was submitted by ERB, Kumulus (EVS organisation in Kalmar) and Europe Direct Bornholm. As a result, in 2013 ERB Youth Board was supported by Karolina Hołówka from Poland. Another volunteer was Veronika Solobai from Belarus, who was working in the European Association for Education and Development ‘Pionier’ in Olsztyn, and assisted ERB Youth Board in 2014 – 2015. The task for volunteers was to coordinate meetings and communication within the Youth Board and update information in social media
Youth Board members were also active during various international events of pan-Baltic importance, where they presented their view on current issues and promoted ERB and ERB Youth Board. These were, among others:
- 4th Annual Forum of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy in Vilnius (Lithuania) on 11-12th November 2013 and Baltic Sea Youth Forum, the day before;
- 2nd Baltic Sea Youth Dialogue in Olsztyn (Poland) on 8th September 2015, organised by the Council of the Baltic States, Körber Foundation and Warmia and Mazury Region;
- Annual Event of the Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation on 14th September 2016 in Hämeenlinna (Finland);
- EU Youth Conference in Košice (Slovakia) on 3-6th October 2016, organised by the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union;
- 7th Annual Forum of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy in Stockholm (Sweden) on 8-9th November 2016, with a youth seminar „Nothing about us without us” co-organised by Euroregion Baltic;
- 8th Annual Forum of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy in Berlin (Germany) on 13-14th June 2017 with the conference and seminar „Nothing about us without us” co-organised by Euroregion Baltic. In the events participated also a group of young people from Warmia and Mazury, financed by the small Euroregion Baltic project;
- 9th Annual Forum of the EU Baltic Sea Strategy in Tallinn (Estonia) on 4-5th June 2018, with a youth seminar „Nothing about us without us – digital tools for better youth involvement and dialogue”;
- Baltic Sea Youth Camp in Gdansk (Poland) on 8-11th June 2019 – a first pan-Baltic event for youth, back-to-back with the 10th Annual Forum of the Baltic Sea Strategy.
Since 2016, ERB opened the possibility for foreign students to be involved in internship opportunities in the frame of the Erasmus + programme EU4EU, powered by EU Gen- European Generation. Since 2017 it has also joined the programme IVY- Interreg Volunteer Youth (powered by AEBR) hosting volunteers.
Among other activities, the project CaSYPoT was implemented, whose outcome has been the draft of a ERB Youth Strategy, an excellent policy recommendation that, if taken into account, could really bring about a new era for youth policy and how it’s implemented by the municipalities. This initiative helped to reactivate the ERB Youth Board whose activities include being involved in various projects, meetings (in real life and online), conferences and training and youth exchanges. A new chairperson has been recently elected, Ms Julia Orluk, and the current mission speaks about “active and engaged young people working for a better future in Euroregion Baltic”. The Youth Board Mission commits for “Engaging young people in democracy, international cooperation and the principles of the Euroregion Baltic”.