5.4 Young people's participation in policy-making
Formal Mechanisms of Consultation
Law 145/2018 defined the National Youth Council (CNG) a "consultative and representative body" and established that "it is heard on the issues that the President of the Council of Ministers or the delegated political authority deems appropriate to submit to his exam".
Similarly, all the Ministers can request the opinion of the CNG on "matters and policies that have an impact on the younger generations".
On the other hand, the law gives the CNG, inter alia, the right to promote:
dialogue between institutions, youth organizations and young people;
overcoming the obstacles to the participation of young people in the mechanisms of representative and direct democracy.
collaborates with public administrations by elaborating studies and preparing reports on the condition of youth useful for defining policies for young people;
expresses opinions and formulates proposals on the legislative acts initiated by the Government that affect young people.
At the moment, however, there is no obligation on the part of the government to consult young people on specific issues that concern them. Therefore, in 2020 the CNG initiated a dialogue with the then Minister for Youth Policies and Sport in order to define formal consultation mechanisms (see 5.10).
At a regional and local level, the landscape is varied. Some regions have promoted, at a regulatory level, the creation of Forums/Councils and other youth representation bodies (see 5.3).
The example of the Campania Region is particularly relevant which with Law 14/1989 and Law 26/2016 promoted the creation of a Regional Youth Forum as an advisory body of the Regional Council, with its own headquarters and financial resources for its operation and has created formal youth consultation mechanisms. The Forum, which is made up of 70% representatives of local Forums, can express opinions on all matters that have an impact on the lives of young people. The Campania Region also promotes "the participation of young people in political life by supporting projects aimed at the political training of future local administrators" and "supports local authorities in the preparation of interactive digital platforms that encourage comparison and discussion between institutions and young people on issues strategic" (Law 26/2016).
Other good practices in the field of youth participation can be found in other Italian regions such as Piemonte, Puglia, Tuscany and Sicily.
Finally, the Universal civic service, managed by the Department for Youth Policies, has created a representative body for voluntary workers that participates in the National Council, a body within which all decisions regarding the planning of the civic service are taken.
Relevant youth actors in case of consultation are:
National youth council (see 5.3);
Councils, forums and discussion tables established at a regional level (see 5.3);
Provincial student council (see 5.3);
Youth associations (see 5.5) and student associations.
Relevant public actors in case of consultation are:
- The Department of Youth Policy and the Universal civic service
- Provinces and Municipalities
- Ministry of Education and Merit
- Ministry of University and Research
- Ministry of Labour and Social Policies
- Ministry of Environment
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
- Ministry of Justice.
Information on the extent of youth participation
The main interlocutor of the Government in the field of youth participation is the CNG which in 2019, following Law 145/2018, renewed its structure by merging with the National Youth Forum.
In the intentions of the legislator, the transformation of the Forum into a Council was mainly intended in order to broaden the basis of representation and participation of young people in the Council itself.
The consultation procedures are currently being defined (see 5.10).
In the last ten years, the National Youth Forum, representing a body of the most important Italian youth associations, has consistently carried out a consultation activity of the young generations on the most relevant issues that interested and invested in young people. This activity was also carried out thanks to the constant support of the Department of Youth Policy and Universal civic service, which, through specific agreements, has financed projects specifically aimed at detecting the orientation of young people
Large-scale initiatives for dialogue or debate beetween public institutions and young people
In 2018, the "General State of Youth Policies" were held in Rome. The event promoted two days of discussion between young people and the main exponents of the various parties, representatives of institutions and the government, the third sector and civil society. The main issues addressed were political and social representation, training, innovation, work and rights, Europe and the South.
The initiative was replicated locally in 2019 in the city of Reggio Calabria.
As part of the development of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (SNSvS) - which represents the first step in declining the principles and objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015 - in Italy initiated a process that provides the involvement of a plurality of subjects, based on the cardinal principle of inclusion: businesses, municipalities, regions, citizens and associations.
The National Sustainable Development Strategy (SNSvS), adopted by the CIPE with Resolution 108/2017 and published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale (GU n.111 of 15-05-2018), provides that the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security ensures the functioning of a Forum on the Sustainable Development Strategy open to civil society and experts in various subjects, with multilevel consultations.
In December 2019, the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security organized and hosted three days of preparatory work dedicated to the operational start-up of the Forum's working groups. A specific moment was dedicated to the active participation of schools and youth organizations, mobilized on sustainability issues, also with the aim of stimulating their direct involvement in the operational management of working groups. On this occasion, the opportunity emerged to provide a "moment dedicated to young people" as part of the annual conferences that are an integral part of the Forum's work.
European Youth Dialogue
The European Youth Dialogue represents the development of the Structured Dialogue (2010-2018). The "new" dialogue is focusing on inclusion, notably of those young people who have fewer opportunities to participate in decision-making processes.
The specific objective of the EU Youth Dialogue is to promote young people’s participation in decision-making and democratic processes, based on principles of inclusion and equality.
To support the implementation and governance of the EU Youth Dialogue, National Working Groups are established in each Member State. The Working Group has the task of promoting the dissemination of the opinions expressed by young people through:
National youth consultations, every 18 months, which take place in all the Member States through individual interviews, questionnaires and focus groups;
National Working Groups, made up of representatives of the Youth Ministries, National Youth Councils, National Youth Agencies and other bodies, tasked to coordinate the consultation process at a national level, inform on priority issues, collect data, produce reports and disseminate the results;
European Youth Conferences, in which different European youth organizations participate, through representatives selected by the National Working Group, and the representatives of the Youth Ministries of the EU Member States. The conferences take place every six months in the country that holds the EU Presidency.
The IX EU Dialogue Cycle, focused on "A Sustainable and Green Europe" started in January 2022 and will ended in June 2023.
In Italy, the National Working Group, responsible for the consultation process at a national level, is composed of the National Youth Council, which chairs the National Working Group, the Department for Youth Policy and Universal civic service, the Italian Youth Agency.
The following structures support the activities, as observing members: Eurodesk Italy, EYCA, Anci Giovani, Observatory for communication, participation and youth cultures of the University of Salerno, Umbria Regional Youth Forum, Puglia Youth Forum, Basilicata Youth Forum, Regional Youth Forum - Campania.
The National Working Group collaborates in the conception, implementation, promotion of activities related to the current cycle.
The National Working Group is now engaged on the IX cycle of the EU Youth Dialogue (1 January 2022 – 30 June 2023) which is entitled "A Sustainable and Green Europe" and is linked to the Youth Goals number 3: Inclusive Societies and number 10 Sustainable Green Europe, foreseen under the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027.