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EACEA National Policies Platform
Belgium-Flemish-Community

Belgium-Flemish-Community

1. Youth Policy Governance

1.4 Youth policy decision-making

Last update: 22 December 2023
On this page
  1. Structure of Decision-making
  2. Main Themes
  3. The National Agency for Youth
  4. Policy monitoring and evaluation

Structure of Decision-making

National level

Unlike the French Community and the Walloon Region (which are separate administrative levels), Flemish politicians decided in 1980 to merge the Flemish Community and the Flemish Region. As a result, Flanders has one Flemish Parliament and one Flemish Government with competence over Community matters as well as over Regional matters.

The Flemish authorities consist of:
 

  • THE FLEMISH PARLIAMENT
    The parliament is directly elected by the Flemish population by way of five-yearly elections. The parliament has 124 members.
     
  • THE GOVERNMENT OF FLANDERS
    The government consists of nine ministers who are in office for a 5-year term. Benjamin Dalle (Christen Democratic Party) is currently the Flemish Minister of Brussels Affairs, Youth and Media, and since May 2022 also of Poverty Reduction. Since 2004, the Flemish Government has allocated the ‘coordination of the children’s rights policy’ and responsibility for ‘youth’ to the minister of youth. 

     

  • THE FLEMISH ADMINISTRATION
    The tasks of the Flemish public administration are now organised on the basis of 10 policy areas. Each policy area is supported by a civil service department and a number of autonomous agencies. The departments support and advice the Government on policymaking, whereas the agencies apply the policy through services to citizens, companies and organisations. These agencies operate with a big degree of autonomy depending on their terms of reference. One of the policy areas is ‘Culture, Youth, and Media’. In all other departments and in the internal and external independent agencies, an official is appointed as the point of contact with regard to policy on the rights of youth and children. The network of these points of contact as well as the preparation of the Flemish policy on youth and children's rights are coordinated by the administration.


Local level

5 provinces and 300 local authorities fall within the administrative supervision of the Flemish Region. Since the Flemish Parliament Act on local and provincial youth (work) policy came into force in 1993, steps were taken towards a decentralized and complementary youth policy.

Since 2016, the municipalities are no longer granted funding that is specifically meant for youth policy. The funds are integrated in one overarching dotation to local governments (Community fund/Gemeentefonds). The aim was to increase the integration of policy making across different sectors. It also strengthened the autonomous authority of the municipalities concerning youth policy.

 

Main Themes


What informs the choice of themes?

The Flemish Youth and Children’s Right Policy Plan 2020-2024 started out with the preparation of the environmental analysis in the summer of 2018, followed by a period of participation sessions, discussions and debates. The Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Reflection Group XL acted as a sounding board group and was involved at various times. The output of the many participation sessions was processed and resulted in 13 cross-policy area priorities, which were further elaborated and ranked during the #Key Priorities Debate in April 2019. With the start of the current term of office, a round table discussion on the importance of the 13 proposed priority objectives was held. The final choice of five priorities was approved by the Government of Flanders on 13 March 2020. The global framework was submitted for reflection and discussion to the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Reflection Group XL in June 2020. The meeting of this Reflection Group was organised in five sessions, each focusing on one priority, and a total of 70 people took part in the discussions. 

Specific target groups

The Flemish Youth and Children's Rights Policy Plan mentions that extra efforts need to be made to guarantee an equal realization of the rights of all young people. Therefore, special attention has been asked for children and young people with disabilities, with a background of migration, living in poverty, ... This has also been stipulated by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

 

The National Agency for Youth


A department of Culture, Youth and Media was established on the first of April 2015. 

‘Team Youth’ of the ‘Department of Culture, Youth and Media’ ensures the administrative follow-up of the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights. Furthermore, the team implements youth policy as a socio-cultural matter. It stimulates and supports a rich and varied offer of non- commercial socio-cultural activities for young people, mainly through subsidies to associations and local authorities.

In short, the tasks of team Youth and the Department are as follows:

  • Preparation, follow-up, evaluation and implementation of legislation (e.g. the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan)

  • Funding support structures, youth organisations, youth projects, youth hostels and accommodation centres, …

  • Funding of investing in youth work infrastructure

    • Providing material support for youth work

    • Providing information on youth (work) policy (e.g. via the website and an e-zine)

    • Representing Flanders at international forums. On the one hand, team Youth is involved in bilateral cooperation projects that Flanders established with other countries or regions in the context of cultural or partnership agreements. This cooperation mainly consists of exchange programmes. On the other hand, team Youth participates in multilateral forums, which have a youth agenda, such as the Benelux, the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

The budget allocation in 2016 was approximately 62,8% of the previous fiscal year. This decline wasn’t due to a decrease of appropriations. The most notable change was the shift of budget allocation from the Act on local and provincial youth (work) policy to the municipalities Fund (Community fund/Gemeentefonds). Since 2016, the budget is directly allocated to the municipalities and they have the autonomous authority concerning youth policy (see also 1.7 Funding Youth policy). From 2018 onwards the budget allocation for youth augmented again. In 2017 the total amount was 42.462.000 euros; in 2018 it rose to 50.209.000 euros. In 2019 the budget for youth was 69.550.000 euro, in 2020 the budget for youth was 57.565.000, in 2021 the budget for youth was 56.256.000, in 2022, the budget allocated to youth is 58.223.000 euro.

In 2023, the budget for the youth programme is 65.662.000 euro. This is 0,1% of the total budget for the Flemish community in 2023 (62.555.985.000 euro), or 0,4% of the budget for Education & Training (18.082.598.000 euro). In more detail, these resources are used as follows:

  • 35.782.000 euro for youth (work) organisations who work on national level;

  • 9.018.488 euro for youth work organisations on a sub-regional level, intermunicipal collaborations and the Flemish Community Commission (Brussels)

  • 4.376.211 euro for the supporting organisations for youth work and the Flemish Youth Council

  • 2.714.000 euro for innovative and/of experimental projects

As mentioned, youth tourism is an important part of Youth policy. The financing is as follows: 

  • 10.445.512 euro for youth accommodation and hostels (incl. General Service for Youth Tourism)

  • 527.789 euro for supporting organisations in the field of youth tourism

There is also a yearly budget for international youth policy. In 2023 the budget was 373.000 euro.

 

Policy monitoring and evaluation

Youth specific monitoring

The Youth Research Platform (JOP) was founded in 2003 by the Flemish government in response to the identification of several problems and shortcomings in Flemish youth research. Since 2005 the JOP gathers empirical data on Flemish youth on a recurrent basis. Therefore, the JOP-monitor, a standardized questionnaire, has been developed, which monitors the lifeword, perceptions and activities of young people. The content of the survey is based on other research instruments and explicitly aims to document several topics relevant to Flemish youth, such as school well-being, well-being, leisure time participation, political attitudes, etc and relates them to different background indicators (gender, age, education level,…). The first JOP-monitor was conducted in 2005-2006, on a sample of 2.503 Flemish 14- to 25-year-old respondents. Since the administration of the first monitor in 2005, four new versions of the JOP-monitor have been administered, each also in a random sample of Flemish youth. In 2008 and in 2013 respectively 3.710 and 3.729 Flemish young people between the ages of 12 and 30 filled out the questionnaire. In 2018, a first Child Monitor was undertaken on a sample of 1.226 Flemish children between 10 and 13 years old. Besides, also in 2018 a JOP-monitor was undertaken on a sample of 1.411 Flemish young people between 14 and 25 years old. The most recent survey was conducted in 2023 and included 1.650 Flemish young people between 12 and 25 years old.

Next to these general surveys, 3 JOP city-monitors have been administered in the metropolitan cities Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels. These studies aim to bring more insight into the specificity of growing up and living in contemporary urban environments in Flanders. These studies offer more comprehensive and more nuanced insights in the living conditions, attitudes and behaviour of young people growing up in these three cities. The most recent city-monitor has been conducted in 2023 and included 5.744 young people in secondary education.

Based on these studies, the JOP has published several books on the living conditions, attitudes and behaviour of young people growing up in Flanders and in Flemish cities. Also it published four books with a specific focus, one on gender differences, one on diversity, one on the pressure on young people and one on education. 

A year before the end of the legislature, a report is prepared which incorporates all available material on children’s rights. This report aims at deepening and consistency and to assist in the environmental analysis of the next policy period, the reporting of the youth and children's rights policy and reporting to the UN Committee.

In the monitor data is used of amongst others the JOP-monitors, EU-SILC, health survey, and different administrative data (e.g. of the Department of Education, the Department of well-being, …). The monitor portrays the living conditions of children, as well as the context, processes and structures that have an impact on them. It provides materials to develop new or modify existing policies.

In November 2023 a new version of this monitor, the Children's Right Monitor 2.0 has been presented. This monitor contains indicators that provide an overview of the living situation of children. With this updated Children's Rights Monitor, the department of Culture, Youth and Media aims to monitor compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Flanders and increase the well-being of children. This is a joint responsibility of governments, civil society organisations and academia. The aim is therefore to enable policy officers from government and civil society organisations and researchers to work with the Children's Rights Monitor. 

  • Indicators for the Youth and Children's Right Policy Plan 2020-2024

For each of the five priorities of the Youth and Children's Rights Policy Plan a set of indicators is developed (based on existing and available data) to follow-up the objectives of the policy plan