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Youth work is regulated by the Decree of 6 December 2011 on the Promotion of Youth Work (Dekret vom 6. Dezember 2011 zur Förderung der Jugendarbeit) which sets out the essentials of the youth policy of the German-speaking Community.
The decree includes definitions for “youth work”, “youth workers” and the various categories and types of youth work that are eligible for funding from the government.
The decree provides regulated funding, a legal framework for youth work and ensures anchorage of youth work within youth policy, which offers a certain level of security for the sector.
Support to youth work in the German-Speaking Community mainly relies on structural funding. The decree of 6 December 2011 ensures structural support for youth work providers, which means that funding and grants are provided for the staffing costs of professional youth workers, for the maintenance of infrastructure, for equipment, and for the training of youth workers and voluntary youth leaders. The decree sets out funding conditions for community-level youth work and requires that funded youth work providers operate in line with community-level priorities. In 2020, the total government budget was 523.992.000 EUR, of which 2.041.000 EUR were for youth. The sum foreseen for the youth work sector amounted to 738.000 EUR.
As mentioned in article 5 of the Decree of 6 December 2011, youth work providers have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for funding. Those include, amongst others:
- To be constituted as not-for-profit organisations based in the German-speaking Community,
- Enable young people to gain self-efficacy experiences and learn shaping skills,
- Support the participation of young people in their establishment,
- Offer and provide activities that place the needs of the children and young people at the centre of their actions,
- Ensure that the activities are supervised by youth workers or volunteer youth leaders,
- Regularly inform their members and the population about their activities,
- Take into account issues of children and young people in disadvantaged life situations, of children and young people with a migration background and children and young people with a disability.
They also have to implement at least four of the priorities of youth work defined by the Government, which include:
- Socio-political and social education to promote interest in socio-political participation, of the ability to form critical judgements of socio-political processes and of the readiness for active involvement in socio-political processes,
- Cultural youth work to promote creativity and cultural forms of expression,
- Leisure-oriented youth work as a contribution to holistic development through sport, play and movement,
- Media work to promote media skills for critical and conscious media use,
- Intercultural youth work to promote skills and finding one’s identity,
- Gender-differentiated girls’ and boys’ youth work for the promotion of equality of opportunity and breaking down gender stereotypes,
- Cross-community and international youth work to promote understanding within Belgium and internationally, peace-keeping and the European identity.
As for the use of EU funds, the German-speaking Community contributes on average with 1,8 Mil EUR per year (11 Mil EUR for the period 2014-2020) to ESF (European Social Funds) projects with participants aged 30 years old or less.
The German-speaking Community is active in European initiatives and networks such as the new European framework for cooperation in the youth field, the cooperation in the framework of the Greater-Region as well as some bilateral treaties.
In this context, being part of the Erasmus+ programme and the European Solidarity Corps programme and having an own National Agency for those programmes is a precious added value for youth policy and young people in the German-speaking community. The National Agency for Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps is managed by the Youth Office (Jugendbüro). The Youth Office also manages several other youth exchange programmes, such as Quebec-Wallonie-Bruxelles (a programme of the French Community) and Bel’J (a joint programme for youth exchanges and projects of the three Belgian Communities), the latter of which is further explained in Chapter 10.5 - Youth workers.
This interaction between the three Belgian Communities in the field of youth policy also exists in its own right at Community level. The German-speaking Community has cooperation agreements with the French Community and with Flanders. The Communities frequently share information regarding new developments, transfer knowledge or invite each other to participate in events.
The German-speaking Community is also part of the Greater Region (Großregion), which in brief is the aggregation of Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany), Luxembourg, Lorraine (France), the Walloon Region, the French-speaking Community and the German-speaking Community. The countries and institutions of this region are cooperating in many respects to facilitate mobility for their inhabitants. Also the structure of the Euregio Maas-Rhine (Euregio Maas-Rhein) enables cooperation and exchange in the border region of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Euregio Maas-Rhine is a public-law foundation comprising the areas of the province Limburg in Flanders, the Walloon province of Liege, the areas of the German-speaking Community, the Regio Aachen in Germany and the southern part of province Limburg in The Netherlands. Moreover, the German-speaking Government is co-signer of the Benelux-Treaty and active partner in this cooperation.
At international level, apart from the youth exchange programme Quebec-Wallonie-Bruxelles there aren't any initiatives with countries outside Europe in the German-speaking Community at the moment.