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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Belgium-German-Speaking-Community

Belgium-German-Speaking-Community

5. Participation

5.4 Young people's participation in policy-making

On this page
  1. Formal Mechanisms of Consultation
  2. Actors
  3. Information on the extent of youth participation
  4. Outcomes
  5. Large-scale initiatives for dialogue or debate between public institutions and young people

Formal Mechanisms of Consultation

The decree anchors dialogues on efficiency with youth organisations, analysis of the social space and monitoring committees for open youth work as well as a strategic plan for youth in the legislative procedure. All those instruments are instruments for participation and dialogue of young people and the youth sector in youth work and policy shaping. They contribute to evidence and knowledge based policy making in the DG.

The decree states that every five years a strategy plan has to be developed by the government, which should be the basis for the evaluation of the performance in youth policy. It foresees to involve young people, youth organisations and youth services in the strategy planning at both local and Community level.

The Government will involve the supported youth centres and the Youth Council of the German-speaking Community as well as young people in drawing up the Strategy Plan. This will also include the results of the analysis of the current situation and evaluation of the previous Strategy Plan to be carried out once in each legislative period by the Government as well as the social space analyses to be drawn up by the Open Youth Work agencies [...].

Since the strategy plan is developed for periods of five years it is important that they are flexible enough to react on ongoing developments without attracting financial sanctions. All bodies working with young people – youth organisations, open youth work and youth information centres – have to develop a five years concept on how to work within the framework of the strategy. These concepts are the basis for an evaluation at the end of the five year period. Youth NGOs have an annual dialogue with representatives of the government on the activities and efficiency of the organisation in order to, if necessary, revise their goals. For open youth work and youth information centres the concepts will also be assessed by a supervisory committee – including members of the institutions and government – and after acceptance by the government performance contracts are concluded between the youth work institutions and government and municipalities.

A youth strategy allows the government to prioritize certain topics within an overall approach to youth policy. Participatory youth involvement ensures that the needs and wishes of young people are reflected in policy development and evolution, as well as the priorities and concerns of the policy makers.

Actors

A main task of youth policy is to enable young people’s participation in policy making. The Youth Council of the German-speaking Community (RdJ - Rat der deutschsprachigen Jugend) is the body representing youth in the DG and is organised as a platform of individual young people, youth centres, local youth councils, youth NGOs, and youth services, as well as youth political parties (which normally are the youth sections of the political parties). The Youth Office (Jugendbüro) supports the Council of the German-Speaking Youth with a secretariat and expert monitoring.

The main goals of the Youth Council are strengthening political awareness of young people and supporting young people and their organisations. Its primary task is the representation of the interests of the German-speaking youth. In this regard the Youth Council is quite active in providing expertise and advice on laws concerning young people and it was also involved in the development of the youth policy in the DG.

Information on the extent of youth participation

The strategic plan of the government aims to facilitate this multi-disciplinary approach. Through the whole process, from the preparation to the establishing of  the decree and even up to the preparation of the implementation of the decree, participation was a guiding principle. This started with the preparation and the implementation of the P.R.I.M.A. consultations in 2005/2006 where young people and their organisations, youth workers and the youth council contributed. Then came the regular cross-check with the youth sector regarding the pillars of the decree, and the hearings that have been held with young people and the sector in the parliament and the official advise giving of the youth council. This was followed by the adaption of the draft decree in accordance with a lot of remarks made by the youth council and continues in the completely independent legal role that the youth council has since the entering into force of the decree. But the principle of participation doesn’t stop there. It continues through the joint preparation of user-friendly templates and the participation of the youth council and the youth sector in the youth commission which is responsible for the organisation and managing of training for youth workers and youth leaders and where they have the plurality. Moreover, this principle is also fostered by the active participation of  young people and representatives of the youth sector in the steering group, drafting the strategic plan of the government. Participation of the youth sector and young people also will continue in the joint committees that will monitor the implementation and the evaluation of the contracts on performance of open youth work on the local level and it will be the guiding principle in the yearly efficiency dialogues with youth organisations. Additionally, on the local level, there is the possibility of direct participation for young people. This happens via social space analysis and the specific design of open youth work in the German-speaking Community, where young people directly participate, can give input and have their say. Moreover, the German-speaking Community also has established a national working group for the structured dialogue which is managed under the leadership of the youth council.

Outcomes

In the years 2005 and 2006 a series of consultations in the framework of the P.R.I.M.A. process involved experts from the DG, Belgian and international experts and young people from the German-speaking Community to elaborate recommendations for youth policy. The process was moderated by a group from Luxembourg. The P.R.I.M.A. process was initiated to redefine youth policy and youth work and develop a youth concept in the DG in 2005. P.R.I.M.A. stands for Partizipation (participation), GestaltungsRäume (scope for creativity), Information, Miteinander (together) and Anerkennung (recognition). The P.R.I.M.A. process lead to different recommendations for youth policy in the fields of participation (with the inclusion of the municipalities), mobility, information, cultural diversity, networking and training, which resulted in the creation of the Decree of 6 December 2011 governing the funding of youth work.

Large-scale initiatives for dialogue or debate between public institutions and young people

See the P.R.I.M.A. consultations above.