Belgium: a federal state
Belgium is a federal state, consisting of three communities and three regions.
- the Flemish Community,
- the French Community
- and the German-Speaking Community
- the Flemish Region,
- the Walloon Region
- and the Brussels Capital Region
There is no hierarchy between the federal, the community and regional levels. This division into communities and regions is an unique characteristic of Belgian federalism. Both entities have their own exclusive competences (source: Youth policy in the three communities of Belgium).
Belgium: three ministers for Youth
There is no youth policy at the federal level. The federal ‘Belgian’ level only has limited competence in youth matters, such as some aspects of judicial youth protection.
On Community level, the most explicit youth policy instruments can be found. The three Communities are competent for youth and youth policy. Each Community have a minister responsible for Youth, a parliamentary commission and a number of administrative departments with youth in their title and a large number of specific youth-related budget items.
The current Flemish Minister for youth is Sven Gatz (term: 2014-2019).
The Flemish Community
The tasks of the Flemish public administration are organised on the basis of 13 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 policy-making, whereas the agencies apply the policy through services to citizens, companies and organisations.
A Flemish ministry was created for each of these policy areas. One of them is the Flemish Ministry for Culture, Youth and Media, which has a department and several agencies. The Division Youth – embedded in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Media- ensures the administrative follow-up of the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights. The Division Youth implements youth policy as a socio-cultural matter.
Principles of Flemish Youth policy
Youth policy and related government measures are based on a planned, comprehensive and integrated vision of youth. The various elements in this definition are significant. Youth policy refers to an interrelated body of elements set in a time perspective. It covers elements from every sphere of life deemed important for young people, in a coherent way. Youth policy is embedded in a model of society which expresses the desirable situation for young people (as individuals and in terms of their group development), how they are expected to grow up and develop and the place they have in society.
Youth policy is implemented through explicit measures: the specific actions undertaken by the government focusing on a particular category of the population: ‘youth’. For the Flemish Community, this means approximately the age group between 0 and 30 years old, although different definitions are used in specific contexts.
Youth policy is based on the assumption that it is possible to implement a group policy. This is not self-evident, because the Flemish government applies a sectorial 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 policy sector.
A group-oriented implementation of policy creates a number of policy crossroads, where it encounters sectorial policies. Youth policy is based on an interactive, participatory style of government and a comprehensive or inclusive approach to policy. This makes youth policy a special and supplementary policy. It provides many opportunities for a more democratic and improved governance of policy implementation (source: Country Sheet on Youth Policy in Flanders (Belgium)).
Data are for Belgium as a whole, and might not represent the demographic situation in the Belgian Flemish Community.
Ratio (%) of young people in the total population (2017): Eurostat, yth_demo_020 [data extracted on 4/09/2018].
Absolute number of young people on 1 January for the age group 15-29 (2017): Eurostat, yth_demo_010 [data extracted on 4/09/2018].
Ratio (%) of men and women in the youth population (2017): Eurostat, yth_demo_020 [data extracted on 4/09/2018].
Young immigrants from non-EU countries (2016): Eurostat, yth_demo_070 [data extracted on 4/09/2018].