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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.7 Funding youth policy

Last update: 10 November 2021
On this page
  1. How Youth policy is funded
  2. What is funded?
  3. Financial accountability
  4. Use of EU Funds

How Youth policy is funded

There is a specific budget for youth policy and youth work development. Different policy areas and measures are funded from different sources and responsible ministries, which include: 

  • national budget;
  • municipal budgets (municipalities are responsible for youth work, social work, formal education system, local transport, hobby education);
  • private initiatives (e.g. Kids and Youth Creativity Accelerator VIVITA);
  • European funds (e.g. European Social Fund);
  • other foreign funds (e.g. EEA Grants and Norway Grants);
  • other funds. 

What is funded?

The Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 states that the funding for the youth sector for the overall implementation period, ie for the years 2021-2035 is 356, 29 million euros. The funding is aimed at covering the achivement of strategic goals as defined in the strategy, to be further specified at operational programme level (tbc). In very general terms, it could be sätted that the  funding covers the capacity building of service providers in youth work, including training; implementing of specific measures and provision of the youth work services, analysis, and monitoring. 

Since 2019 a new approach to funding of youth organisations was introduced on the state level, through so-called strategic partnerships between organisations and the Ministry of Education and Research, for the period of 3 years. Strategic partnership is targeting the organisations that:

  • have operated at least 3 years (or less in justified cases) and contributes to policy, legislation and strategic development (incl. participation in state level thematic working groups) of the work areas of the Ministry of Education and Research;  
  • or is an umbrella organisation uniting field organisations in the area of work  of the Ministry of Education and Research and contributes to strategic aims of the field;
  • or is an organisation that is actively working on implementation of strategic goals of education, youth, language policy and research policy areas.

Before the new period is about to be launched since 2022, evaluation of the pilot initiative has taken place to identify the needs for further changes in such partnership practice.

Financial accountability

The financial accountability for public spending is the responsibility of the Ministry responsible for the policy area. Private legal entities like youth NGOs receive public funding based on contracts and the contract includes an obligation to report both spending and results. Generally, the contracts do not include policy level indicators, however, this trend is increasing. Evaluation of the reports is mostly done in comparison to the agreements in the contract and plans usually defined in the application.

Funding from specific sources can have specific demand in terms of reporting (e.g. EU structural assistance, EEA Grants, etc. have detailed schemes of reporting and accountability.

In general, all recipients of public funding have financial accountability. Not all reporting activities have formal regulations.

According to the Youth Work Act, the general state or administrative supervision of the state funding in the field of youth is the task of the Ministry of Education and Research. As the main funding of organizing youth work comes from the local municipalities, the recipients of their funding (youth associations, youth programmes, and youth projects) have to report of the usage of the funds to the municipalities by the legislation set by the municipalities themselves.

The funding of state programmes, youth research, and youth work organizations is set by the Minister of Education and Research. Each recipient of the funding will have a contract and will have to present a report (including a financial report) by the date set in the contract.

Use of EU Funds

Previously the EU and EEA funds have been used in order to support the implementation of the national youth strategy, for example for the Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020, for increasing the availability of youth work services and involving young people at risk; increasing the exposure of young people to the working life; supporting services for NEETs (Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training); assessment of the quality and impact of the activities, organising trainings for people working in youth field etc.  

The operational programmes for the recent Youth Sector Development Plan 2021-2035 are under development (tbc), also there are some programmes implemented from foreign funds already before the adoption of the national youth strategy took place. For example, in 2019, the Programme agreement of Local Development Programme with Estonia was signed until 2024. The programme is operated by the Ministry of Social Affairs. The programme funding (excluding co-financing) amounts to €21 million and is funded through the EEA Grants (€10.6 million) and Norway Grants (€7.4 million). 

The local development programme addresses challenges in Estonia related to the wellbeing of children and youth, gender-based violence, the health care system and revitalization of cultural heritage. The programme will address early school leaving, limited services and support available for vulnerable children and youth e.g. in the justice and education systems and shortage of extrajudicial alternatives to sanctions such as social and educational programmes that could hinder reoffending. 

Related to the welfare of children and youth, two pre-defined projects will be supported which will establish a mediation system and develop a specialised juvenile justice approach to support the wellbeing of vulnerable children and youth. Two open calls will support projects developing models for integrated services at local level and to pilot measures to support transition of disadvantaged children and youth across school levels from education to the labour market, including smart solutions in youth work. Finally, two small grants schemes will implement and raise awareness of restorative justice measures for youth and develop and pilot career orientation programmes.

Also, the EU youth programmes, like Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps are valued as important contribution to enlarging the opportunities to youth as well as supporting the youth work capacity development and youth policy development on international scale. Centre of Youth Programmes of Estonian Agency for Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps is part of the Education and Youth Board.