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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.2 National youth law

Last update: 27 March 2024
On this page
  1. Existence of a National Youth Law
  2. Scope and contents
  3. Revisions/updates

Existence of a National Youth Law

The federal ‘Belgian’ level of government has limited competence in youth matters (e.g. some aspects of judicial youth protection), but there is no youth policy at the Belgian level. Person-related matters, such as education, health care, culture and youth are entitled to the Communities. Therefore, the most explicit youth policy and youth policy instruments can be found at the community level.

The new Youth Decree of 23 November 2023, which entered into force on 1 January 2024, (Decree on the youth and children's right policy and the support of youth work) is the core legislation concerning youth policy and youth work policy. This decree serves as a framework to develop youth policy instruments and to support youth work organisations at the regional and subregional level in Flanders. 


Scope and contents

Youth Policy is based on the assumption that it is possible to implement a group policy. This is not self-evident, because the government applies a sectoral approach in most other domains. A group policy is a different way of implementing policy: instead of focusing on one sector, the starting point is young people’s lives across the board, their needs and requirements. That is why youth policy permeates almost every other sector. Thus, youth policy can be seen as a broad, cross-sectoral approach to young people - partly young, partly all young people - including children.

The new Youth Decree of 23 November 2023 defines the policy for youth and children’s rights as follows (cf. art 3, 13°): 'the comprehensive and integrated vision and a government’s resulting systemic and plan-based measures which aim to have a perceptible effect on youth, with a special focus on children’s rights, as moral and legal framework'.

The Youth Decree serves as a framework to develop youth policy instruments and to support youth work organisations at the regional and subregional level in Flanders. 

It describes the basic instruments to implement youth policy. More specifically, five key instruments are mentioned:

  • Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan
  • A horizontal consultation on youth and chidren's rights policy comprised of the contact points for the policy on youth and children’s rights in all departments and agencies of the Flemish Authorities, the Flemish Youth Council and intermediary youth organisations, as well as a vertical consultation organised by each Flemish minister
  • A network of the contact points for the policy on youth and children’s rights in all departments and agencies of the Flemish Authorities
  • Impact assessment of new legislation on children and youth (JoKER)
  • A ‘Youth Progress Report’ to monitor the situation of youth

Furthermore, the Youth Decree also defines that the Flemish Government provides for the establishment of a Youth Council and intermediary organisations. Every month, 16 (8 individual young people and 8 representatives of youth organisations) gather for the General Assembly. During these meetings they vote on policy recommendations, discuss positions and engage in policy work related to youth. With regard to its advisory task, the Flemish Youth Council can give advice at its own discretion or at the request of the Government of Flanders or the Flemish Parliament. The Flemish Government is obliged to request opinions on draft decrees and regulatory drafts of the Flemish Government that implement the Flemish youth and children's rights policy plan. The Flemish Youth Council shall approve its advices at the General Assembly with a two-third majority of the attendees. Importantly, the Government of Flanders shall explain its decision on the policy advices relating to its competences to the Flemish Youth Council. The Flemish Youth Council can also give policy advices in case its members find it necessary in view of the interests of young people.

Concerning youth work policy, the Youth Decree of 23 November 2023 coordinates the procedures to apply for a total of eight types of focused subsidies, and to grant these subsidies. 

The decree regulates the admission to (structural funding) and the structural funding of:

  • regional youth work organisations like youth movements, holiday camps, organisations in the field of cultural education or children’s help lines,

  • professional youth work organisations that work with children with disabilities and with disadvantaged children at the subregional level,

  • structural cooperations between local governments in the fields of youth policy and youth work,

  • and support organisations for youth work.

The decree also regulates the funding of temporary projects:

  • experimental projects,

  • projects executing the Flemish Youth Policy Plan,

  • projects youth centres at the subregional level,

  • and projects by voluntary organisations that work with children with disabilities.

The Flemish Parliament Act provides the coordination of youth policy as implemented in the different policy domains in Flanders. In an effort to mainstream youth policy, the policy plan is linked to other Ministries (and requires action from them) such as employment, education, welfare, urbanisation and mobility. The act addresses the youth population as a whole.



  1. The Flemish Parliament Act of 22 November 2023 on a youth and children's rights policy and the support of youth work. Validity:1 January 2024 – …

Content of main revisions

In the child and youth related legislation in the Flemish Community several decrees or acts were the backbone of the youth and youth work policy:

  • Decree establishing the rules for subsidizing youth accommodation, hostels, support structures and the non-profit organisation General Service for Youth Tourism (2022). With this decree the Flemish Community supports youth touristic accommodation that is youth-friendly, accessible and affordable.

  • Decree regarding a Renewed Youth and Children’s Rights Policy (2012)

  • Decree regarding the Subsidization of Supra-local Youth Work, Youth Centres and Youth Work for Special Target Groups (2017)

  • Decree regarding the Support and Stimulation of Local Youth Policy (2012)

  • Decree regarding Additional Subsidies for Employment in the Cultural Sector (2004):

With the exception of the first mentioned decree, all listed decrees were integrated into the new Youth Decree. Specifically, the intention was to provide both a legal and substantive redesign of the regulatory framework.