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Youth policies are defined and encouraged by the central authority and implemented regionally. Local authorities are also involved in drafting public youth policies and work in partnership with the ministry responsible for youth. It should be borne in mind that, at local level, the French administrative system depends on the State (Government and ministries) and local public authorities alike. Moreover, it exists various local public (adminitrative) authorities as the Région, the Département, the municipality and the intermunicipality, each has its own political areas.
National (central) authority : The Ministry in charge of youth and and its deconcentrated department
1) The Ministry responsible for youth
The main authority which has the general competence of definition of the national strategy, regulation and control of the youth policy is the Ministry of Education, Youth. and sports.
To develop and implement its youth policy, the Minister of National Education, youth and sports relies on the Department (directorate) for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisation-DJEPVA (Direction de la Jeunesse, de l’Education Populaire et de la Vie Associative) which draws up and implements youth policy. The Order of 24 December 2015 amending the order of 30 December 2005 sets “the organisation of directorate and sub-directorate of the ministry in charge of youth”.
The structure of the DJEPVA
The DJEPVA comprises:
- the Sub-directorate for Cross-ministerial Youth and Voluntary Organisations Policies;
- the Sub-directorate for Non-Formal Education;
- the INJEP - National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education, a body with national authority under the aegis of the Director of Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisations.
The Director of the DJEPVA is also “cross-ministerial delegate for youth” (Decree no.2014-18 of 9 January 2014). He coordinates implementation of actions carried out by the various ministries in favour of youth.
The role of the DJEPVA
The DJEPVA supports actions on the part of youth and non-formal education associations, which act as its special interlocutors. Other bodies also under its aegis include the Civic Service Agency (Agence du Service Civique) and it serves as national authority for application of the “Erasmus + Youth” European programme.
The DJEPVA takes part in drafting and implementing non-profit sector development policy, seeking among other things to simplify the legal framework within which NGOs develop by promoting community actions, “bénévolat” (charity, voluntary work) in particular, and acknowledging the importance of those involved in voluntary organisations and non-formal education, which it also lends financial support to.
As regards best use and development of civic commitment, the Department oversees mainstreaming of civic service (general interest missions proposed to young people between 16 and 25 years old). It also oversees the educational quality of stays and the safety of minors at ACMs – children’s summer camps (Accueils Collectifs de Mineurs).
2) Deconcentrated departments
The Decree of 1 July 1992 bears on application of deconcentration, defined in its first Article as “the general rule of division of powers and resources between the various echelons of the State’s civil service.” Deconcentration is a system of administrative organisation in which the central power (that of the State) is delegated or transferred to regional departments known as deconcentrated departments (services déconcentrés) or external departments. The process aims to improve the State’s efficiency by decongesting the central administration and speeding up decision-making at local level.
As regards youth policies, deconcentrated departments are DR(D)JSCS – Regional/ Departemental Departments of Youth, Sport and Social Cohesion , present in each regional “capital" and responsible for managing and coordinating implementation of national youth policy, in compliance with Decree no.215-1867 of 30 December 2015, which defines their organisation and missions.
Since 2019, the Department for Youth, Non-Formal Education and Voluntary Organisations (Direction de la jeunesse, de l’éducation populaire et de la vie associative – DJEPVA) and decentralised directorates responsible for youth policies have been preparing a reform of their organisation, based on the Prime Minister’s Circular of 12 June 2019 bearing on implementation of the reform of the State’s territorial organisation.
The reform consists of merging Regional Directorates of Youth, Sport and Social Cohesion’s (Directions régionales de la jeunesse, des sports et de la cohésion sociale – DRJSCSs) administrations, missions and staff with those of local education offices (local education authorities and départemental Directorates of National Education Services).
In regions and départements, staff involved in missions bearing on sport, youth, non-formal education and voluntary organisations will be incorporated into local education offices on 1 January 2021.
A Regional Education Authority Delegation for Youth, Commitment and Sport (Délégation régionale académique à la jeunesse, à l’engagement et au sport – DRAJES) will be created in each local education authority (see Glossary). At départemental level, a youth, commitment and sport department will be created in Départemental Directorates of National Education Services (Directions des services départementaux de l'Éducation nationale – DSDENs).
At central level, as from 1 January 2021 the DJEPVA, which is currently under the administrative authority of the General Secretariat of the Social Ministries, will be attached to the General Secretariat of the Minister of National Education and Youth and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (Secrétariat Général du Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale et de la Jeunesse et du Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche et de l’Innovation – SG MENJ-MESRI).
Since enactment of Law no.82-213 of 2 March 1982 bearing on the rights and freedoms of municipalities, départements and regions, the State has reinforced and developed its decentralisation procedure by transferring some of its administrative competences to the various territorial authorities : regions (13 in all since January 2016), departements, municipalities and intermunicipalities.
The Law of 16 January 2015 bearing on delimitation of regions and regional and départemental elections and modifying the electoral calendar, and the Law of 7 August 2015 on the Republic’s new territorial organisation have further reinforced regions’ competences.
Such bodies have a measure of local autonomy (Art. 72 s. of the Constitution; European Charter of Local Autonomy, 1985), although such autonomy is exercised in compliance with the law and under State control. This “control of legality” may also be carried out by the departemental or regional Prefect.
Regarded as pertinent echelons of action, local authorities are of key importance to the success of youth policies. Their various levels (regional, departemental, municipal and intermunicipal) make them all the more likely to implement actions designed to benefit young people.
Such local-level decision-making relies on complementarity and cooperation between the ministry and the deconcentrated deparments in charge of youth. Local youth policies are implemented in partnership (collaboration between local authorities) and are intersectorial. They are characterised by their wide diversity and depend, among other things, on each area’s stakeholders, resources and specificities.
France is composed by 13 "metropolitan" Regions" and 5 "Overseas" Regions and Départements.
Regions’ competences are essentially centred on territorial development and spatial planning; vocational training, management of lycées, and public transport.
The Equality & Citizenship Law of 27 January 2017 designated the region as the "leader" of local authorities on youth policies. This law also enshrines the principle of a "territorial structured dialogue" on youth policies between public authorities (state and region), civil society and young people.
According to the article Réforme territoriale et réorganisation de l’État: quels enjeux pour les politiques de jeunesse ? (Territorial reform and reorganisation of the State: what challenges for youth politics?) by the researcher Jordan Parisse of the National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education (Institut national de la Jeunesse et de l’éducation populaire – INJEP), published in February 2019, “Regional councils therefore inherit not so much a general competence in the field of youth policies as a function of “conductor” of the various local authorities actively involved with young people”.
Départements are responsible for so-called “solidarity” and specialised preventive actions (in particular on behalf of minors placed under judicial protection).
Departemental Councils act on behalf of youth through their role in the building and maintenance of lower secondary schools (collèges) and drafting of local social policy, implementation of child welfare services in particular. “Child welfare” refers to social action on behalf of families experiencing major material or educational problems with regard to their children. Départements implement the RSA – minimum income scheme, which young people of 25 and over can apply for, as well as providing them with ad hoc financial assistance. Young people between the ages of 18 and 25 experiencing social and/or financial problems may make use of the FAJ – Youth Assistance Fund (Fonds d’Aide aux Jeunes) . This départemental fund finances aid to social and professional integration of young people in economic difficulty and, if necessary, provides them with temporary financial help.
3) Municipalities and intermunicipalities
Municipalities and intermunicipalities (intermunicipalities are groups of municipalities that pool management of public services) are the smaller local administrations.
(Inter)municipal youth polices bear largely on social and educational action, prevention of delinquency and civic commitment. Among other things, municipalities’ social services, (with the Departement’s agreement) grant aid from the FAJ and can decide on social accompaniment of young people in major difficulty. Municipalities also provide young people with information on existing schemes related to employment, healthcare, accommodation, mobility and social rights via dedicated information facilities.
The Government and other institutional actors with a say in youth policies focus above all on the education and training of young people, which constitute the main themes of youth policies, which also prioritise autonomy, young people’s mobility and their participation in society.
Youth policies are usually designed to:
- Ensure young people’s academic success and professional integration;
- Foster young people’s autonomy;
- Promote young people’s ability to act in society and develop their commitment;
- Foster mobility among all young people;
- Inform young people on the public mechanisms concerning them as well as on their (social) rights.
Policy development draws on data, statistical data in particular, much of it produced by the Ministry of National Education’s Directorate for Evaluation, Forecasting and Performance (Direction de l'évaluation, de la prospective et de la performance – DEPP), as well as on work carried out by the National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education (INJEP) attached to the DJEPVA, and on analysis of data produced by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques – INSEE) and Ministerial Statistical Departments (Services statistiques ministériels – SSMs).
Such studies bear on youth policies and young people’s living conditions.
Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds confronted with social and economic problems and the question of inequalities between young people are also the subjects of studies and reports, such as INJEP’s work on young people with fewer opportunities and their unequal access to various public schemes.
Since 2016, the DJEPVA and INJEP, in partnership with the Research Centre for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions (Centre de Recherche pour l'Étude et l'Observation des Conditions de Vie – CREDOC), have carried out an annual survey among over 4000 young people between 18 and 30 years of age living in France, enabling obtainment of qualitative information on youth: the Baromètre Jeunesse (Youth Barometer).
This work provides youth policy developers with objective quantitative and qualitative data highlighting the problems encountered by young people and their aspirations regarding international mobility, recreational activities, culture, commitment and access to social rights.
National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education
France does not have a youth “agency” as such. Public policies on youth are developed and coordinated by the DJEPVA’s departments.
Since 1 January 2016, the National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education (Institut national de la jeunesse et de l’éducation populaire – INJEP, created in 1953), which is a Government Agency with National Authority (Service à compétence nationale – SCN) has been attached to the Director of the DJEPVA. Its missions and operation are set by Decree no.2015-1771 of 24 December 2015 on creation of a government agency with national authority called “National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal education”.
Its role as observatory is given concrete expression by production of analyses and statistical data, the research work it carries out, and its studies and assessments in the fields of youth, education, associations and sport.
It is also a resource and expertise centre for professionals involved with youth and non-formal education, associations, public decision-makers and representatives of civil society. In this respect, one of its mission is to “collect, summarise, disseminate and promote knowledge on youth policies” in particular through publications and events.
The Institute comprises five missions:
1. The Surveys, Data and Statistical Studies Mission (Mission des enquêtes, des données et des études statistiques –MEDES)
2. The Study and Research Mission (Mission d'étude et de recherche – MER)
3. The Experimentation and Evaluation of Public Policies Mission (Mission d'expérimentation et d'évaluation des politiques publiques – MEEPP)
4. The Valorisation and Dissemination Mission (Mission de valorisation et de diffusion – MVD)
5. The Documentation/Resource Centre Mission (Mission de la documentation/centre de ressources – Mdoc)
The Institute plays a key role in knowledge and analysis of youth policies, as “a resource and expert assessment centre for all stakeholders in youth affairs, non-formal education and voluntary organisations, for parliamentary assemblies and bodies representing civil society”.
INJEP’s role is “to observe and analyse young people’s situations and youth policies at all territorial levels from local to European”. At the Prime Minister’s request, it carries out studies and drafts assessments relating to cross-ministerial youth policy, and oversees specific activities of observation or expert assessment of public action in favour of youth.
INJEP also runs the FEJ – Youth Experimentation Fund (Fonds d’Expérimentation pour la Jeunesse), which finances experimental projects concerning young people.
Assessment and analysis of public youth policies in France have been developed and systematised over the last dozen or so years. Assessments, which may be quantitative, statistical or qualitative, are carried out by various public and private bodies (laboratories and academic research centres, research firms, etc.) Among other things, they seek to assess the impact of youth programmes and policies, and make recommendations.
A variety of institutions and organisations participate in the assessment and monitoring of policies, including Ministerial Statistical Departments, studies institutes, Ministerial Inspection Departments and consultative bodies. The public authorities may also call upon the services of external policy assessment agencies to monitor their youth policies.
Indicative list of youth policy assessment bodies
Each ministry has its own ministerial evaluation and statistical department, able to produce data and assess policies and programmes likely to concern young people.
At the DJEPVA/INJEP, the Surveys, Data and Statistical Studies Mission (MEDES) produces statistics in collaboration with the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE). Its role is to produce and disseminate public statistics on youth, non-formal education and sport.
- Ministry of Agriculture and Food: Department of Statistics and Foresight Analysis (Service de statistique et de la prospective – SSP)
- Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and Relations with Local Authorities: Department for Local Studies and Statistics (Département des études et des statistiques locales – DESL)
- Ministry of Public Action and Accounts: External Trade Statistics and Analyses Division (Département des statistiques et des études du commerce extérieur – DSECE)
- Ministry of Culture: Department of Studies, Foresight and Statistics (Département des études, de la prospective et des statistiques – DEPS)
- Ministry for the Armed Forces: Defence Economic Observatory (Observatoire économique de la défense – OED)
- Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition: Data and Statistical Studies Department (Service de données et des études statistiques – SDES)
- Ministry of National Education: Directorate for Evaluation, Forecasting and Performance (Direction de l'évaluation, de la prospective et de la performance – DEPP)
- Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation: Information Systems and Statistical Studies Sub-Directorate (Sous-direction des systèmes d'information et des études statistiques – SIES)
- Ministry of Justice: Statistics and Studies Sub-Directorate (Sous-direction de la statistique et des études – SDSE)
- Ministry for Solidarity and Health: Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (Direction de la recherche, des études, de l'évaluation et des statistiques – DREES)
- Ministry of Labour: Directorate of Research, Economic Studies and Statistics (Direction de l’animation, de la recherche, des études et des statistiques – DARES)
The Advisory Council on Youth Policies
The Advisory Council on Youth Policies (Conseil d'orientation des politiques de la jeunesse – COJ) is an administrative consultative body under the Prime Minister’s authority, created by Decree no.2016-1377 of 12 October 2016. (See below Part 1.5 Dynamic Interministerial Approach).
The COJ has three main missions:
- it may be consulted on legislative and regulatory projects connected with youth, and discuss any questions of general interest concerning youth policies;
- it may make proposals to the Government to improve young people’s situation
- it has to send an annual report to the Government.
COJ website: http://www.jeunes.gouv.fr/spip.php?rubrique1188
The Interministerial Directorate for Public Transformation
The Interministerial Directorate for Public Transformation (Direction interministérielle de la transformation publique – DITP) is a Prime Ministerial department that assists the French Government in the implementation and assessment of public policies.
Ministerial Inspection Departments
Several administrations (ministries) have inspection departments or inspection bodies responsible for carrying out inspections or producing assessment studies. In the field of public youth policies, the Minister of National Education and Youth’s “Youth and Sport” inspectors make up a civil service corps in its own right which participates in the implementation and assessment of public policies adopted by ministries. It may be required to carry out advisory, study and research missions in the fields of youth, non-formal education, physical and sports activities, collective recreational activities, and associations). Since September 2019, it has been merged with three other inspection bodies – the Inspectorate General for National Education (Inspection générale de l’éducation nationale – IGEN), the Inspectorate General for National Education and Research (Inspection générale de l’administration de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche – IGAENR), and the Inspectorate General of Libraries (Inspection générale des bibliothèques - IGB) – to form the General Inspectorate of Education, Sport and Research (Inspection générale de l’éducation, du Sport et de la recherche – IGESR).