5.5 National strategy to increase youth participation
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Existence of a national strategy to increase young people's political and civil society participation
The small scale of the German-speaking Community fosters a great diversity of offers. Through the intensive promotion of youth work and existing structures for participation, the German-speaking Community, compared to neighboring regions, retains its attractiveness for young people - even in rural structures. To consolidate these standards and to expand them, working instruments of participatory youth policy are being continued. Young people in the German-speaking Community are continuously involved in the development of all these processes. To this end, the structures of active youth work are maintained and expanded. The goal must be to integrate early and second-generation young people into these structures at an early stage, so that they also achieve a high level of identification with the German-speaking Community.
Strategic Plan on Youth
The Decree on the Promotion of Youth Work of 6 December 2011 (Dekret zur Förderung der Jugendarbeit vom 06. Dezember 2011) foresaw the adoption and implementation of a cross-sectorial youth strategy by the government for each legislative period. It is explicitly mentioned in the decree that the government engages funded youth NGO’s, the Youth Council and young people in drawing up the strategy. Article 4 of the Decree reads:
For each legislative period the Government will adopt and implement a multidisciplinary Strategy Plan. It will document the environment of young people in the German-speaking Community and lay down targets and tasks which will contribute to improving the situation of young people. [...] 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 [...].
On 1 January 2022, the Decree of 14 December 2021 amending the Decree on the Promotion of Youth Work of 6 December 2011 (Dekret vom 14. Dezember 2021 zur Abänderung des Dekret vom 06.11.2011 zur Förderung der Jugendarbeit) entered into force. As a result, the period of the Strategic Plan an Youth is no longer tied to the legislative period, but to the time for which applicants for funding apply for funding support in relation to the Decree. Consequently, the general period of a Strategic Plan on Youth is still 5 years, starting 2023.
The Strategic Plan on Youth provides the framework in which, thanks to the cooperation with strong partners from the youth and social sector, practicable, future-oriented and sustainable projects can be developed. Nevertheless, it is open enough to enable interested organisations to develop relevant projects. The Strategic Plan on Youth not only involves creating new approaches but also continuing already existing measures or directing them to the youth sector.
Decisive for the successful implementation of the Strategic Plan on Youth continues, however, to be thinking holistically and keeping an eye on the multidisciplinary approach for all projects. The political environment has committed itself to creating appropriate general conditions for the best possible implementation of the Strategic Plan on Youth. For this, however, it needs the support of all organisations and people involved in the development of the Strategic Plan on Youth. They should be deliberate in their authorship and breathe life into the Strategic Plan on Youth jointly with the Government.
In 2014 the 2nd Strategic Plan on Youth (YSP II) covering the period 2016-2020 was drawn up. The period of the Strategic Plan on Youth has in 2020 been extended for 2 years, meaning the Strategic Plan on Youth covers effectively the period 2016-2022. The second and actual Youth Strategy Plan 2016-2020 (YSP2) "Acting respectful" foresees 11 actions in 4 categories:
- "Strong against Addiction",
- "Promoting diversity",
- "Political education",
- "Emotions and self-perception".
These actions include cross-border action days, developing networking, promoting projects, building awareness, offer trainings and supporting mechanisms for young people and youth workers in order to develop e.g. new approaches for drug-prevention, for social inclusion, democracy, political education and participation in the youth field.
Especially the category “Political education” aims at increasing young people’s political participation.
The Youth Department of the Ministry of the German-speaking Community has the responsibility for the coordination of the Strategic Plan on Youth.
A Steering Group has taken the lead in supporting the implementation process (selection of the topics, specification of the measures and editing). This Steering Group is composed of representatives of the youth sector, the Government and the Ministry. The composition of the Steering Group is as follows:
- one member of the staff of the Prime Minister, responsible for external relations, finances and budget, administrative organization,
- one member of the staff the Minister responsible for culture, employment, local authorities and tourism,
- one member of the staff of the Minister responsible for family, health and social policy,
- one member of the staff of the Minister responsible for education and scientific research,
- two representatives of the Ministry of the German-speaking Community (Youth Department),
- two representatives of the Council of the German-speaking Youth (Rat der Deutschsprachigen Jugend, RDJ) (one for the youth organisations and one for open youth work),
- one representative of the Youth Office (Jugendbüro),
- one representative of ech of the two youth information centres (Jugendinfo) of the German-speaking Community,
- several members of staff of cross-sectoral Departments of the Ministry.
The Strategic Plan is renewed with each new funding period, i.e. every five years. The Strategic Plan on Youth is an ongoing process. Not least for this reason good communication between the participating partners is important. A Steering Group supervises the implementation of the 2016-2022 action plan and supports with the implementation. Individual topics, actions and procedures will be regularly evaluated and may if necessary be adjusted.