1.4 Youth policy decision-making
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Structure of Decision-making
The National Agency for Youth
Policy monitoring and evaluation
Structure of Decision-making
In 2010, youth policy was integrated into one top institution, the Ministry of Human Capacities, instead of the former separately existing ministries.
Youth policy (along with sports and drug issues) was under the supervision of the State Secretariat for Youth and Sport between 2010 and 2014, after 2014 it was assigned to the State Secretariat for Family and Youth Affairs, where youth policy is on the level of the State Secretary and the person responsible is the Deputy State Secretary for Young People.
The structure has undergone minor changes after the 2018 elections, but the top-level authority responsible for youth affairs remained the Ministry of Human Capacities. After a brief period in 2021-2022, when the sector was part of the Prime Minister's Office, the structure was restored in the government formed in 2022, and the youth sector is part of the Ministry for Culture and Innovation (Kulturális és Innovációs Minisztérium). Under the Minister, the State Secretariat for Families is responsible for youth policies. The Deputy State Secretariat for Youth Affairs is under that unit.
Based on the Organizational and Operational Rules of the Ministry [3/2022. (VIII. 8.) KIM utasítás] the Minister for Culture and Innovation coordinates the activities of the State Secretary for Families.
As the person responsible for child and youth policy, the State Secretary for Families
- provides professional and political leadership in the field of youth policy,
- is responsible for the development of the government's youth policy,
- performs tasks related to strengthening intergenerational cooperation,
- coordinates the system of cooperation with young Hungarian people in the Carpathian Basin outside Hungary's borders,
- monitors the implementation of children's rights,
- carries out tasks related to volunteering, and
- manages tasks related to talent management.
The State Secretary also has development and management tasks related to youth programmes, such as
- the National Talent Programme (Nemzeti Tehetség Program),
- the Government's children's camping programme (Erzsébet táborok), and
- the Programme for the Future of the New Generation (Új Nemzedék Jövőjéért Program), for which it uses the services of the Elisabeth Youth Foundation Nonprofit Ltd and the National Talent Center Public Non-Profit Ltd.
The following structure reflects the situation in force:
The State Secretary responsible for families coordinates the following bodies:
- Deputy State Secretariat for Family Affairs (preparation of the work of the Secretariat, review of professional materials),
- Deputy State Secretariat for Youth Affairs which coordinates the Department of Youth Affairs and the Department of Talents.
The Deputy State Secretary for Youth Affairs is:
- representing the Ministry in the work of domestic and foreign governmental and other institutions,
- responsible for the technical preparation, initiation and implementation of youth related legislation,
- responsible for the management of inter-ministerial relations in the area and liaison with other departments,
- operating the Board of the Children and Youth Fund (Gyermek és Ifjúsági Alapprogram Tanácsa),
- cooperating with the Hungarian Youth Conference in order to promote dialogue between domestic and foreign youth organisations and cross-border programmes,
- cooperating with the National Youth Council (Nemzeti Ifjúsági Tanács) to promote professional dialogue between Hungarian youth organisations and the Government,
- contributing to the planning and implementation of government programmes for the digital protection of young people.
The Deputy State Secretary for Youth Affairs also
- contributes to the design and implementation of programmes and services to protect the physical and mental health of young people,
- mediates between student and youth representative bodies and governmental bodies to better promote the specific interests of young people,
- participates in the implementation of governmental tasks related to the National Youth Parliament and the National Student Council (Országos Diáktanács),
- coordinates the tasks related to the UN Youth Delegate Programme,
- contributes to the implementation and promotion of government programmes related to the National Talent Programme,
- contributes to the development of the professional concept of youth camping programmes organised by the Government or a governmental background institution, with the exception of the Elizabeth Camps,
- makes technical comments on the technical content of youth tenders launched by the National Cooperation Fund's College,
- coordinates the implementation of tasks related to the National Talent Programme (Nemzeti Tehetség Program), and
- cooperates in its tasks with the National Talent Centre.
The main aims of the Department of Youth Affairs:
- coordination of cross-sectoral policies and objectives originated from the Future of the New Generation Programme,
- contributing to the implementation and coordination of youth-related tasks arising from Hungary's membership of the European Union, cooperating with the Visegrad countries and other international memberships,
- participating in the preparation of the youth and voluntary activities budget, developing its technical content and monitoring its use,
- enforcing the principles, objectives and the corresponding implementation concepts of the National Youth Strategy, and periodically proposing its reinforcement or revision,
- coordinating the National Strategy on Volunteering;
- supporting youth work,
- drafting and coordinating qualitative and quantitative youth researches.
The department consists of the Division of Youth Policy Programmes and the Division of Volunteering.
Besides this, the role of the Ministry of Finance (Pénzügyminisztérium) must be mentioned as the Ministry that has been coordinating the Youth Guarantee Scheme (for further information see chapter 3. Employment & Entrepreneurship).
The role of the Maria Kopp Institute for Demography and Families [Kopp Mária Intézet a Népesedésért és Családokért (KINCS)] in shaping youth policy is also notable as it is a budgetary institution established in 2018 by the Government and recently headed by the Deputy State Secretary of Family Affairs.
Other relevant governmental actors
A new post has been created next to the Minister for Regional Development in the government formed in 2022. The former Deputy State Secretary for Youth Affairs, Zsófia Rácz, has been appointed to a ministerial representative. Her term of office runs to 30 June 2024 (4/2022. (VII. 21.) TFM utasítás).
The ministerial representative's tasks include:
- submitting proposals to the Minister for Regional Development to ensure that regional developments contribute to the improvement of the quality of life and living conditions of young people and to strengthening intergenerational cooperation,
- coordinating with relevant stakeholders, promoting the specific needs of young people in the development planning process, bridging the gap between decision-makers and young people on the ground, and taking young people's views into account when preparing spatial development concepts,
- monitoring the integration and development process in disadvantaged areas and making complex proposals to improve the effectiveness of measures that help young people to stay in their home country,
- advising young farmers and proposing solutions to the challenges of generational change,
- proposing knowledge transfer and mentoring programmes to improve the competitiveness of young people in specific areas and to promote their future entrepreneurship,
- proposing the provision of services to maintain and improve the physical and mental health of young people.
Roundtable for Youth
As of 2017, the National Youth Expert Forum became inactive and the Roundtable for Youth took over its role, where the Government is coordinating with the participating youth organisations and experts on a regular, bi-monthly basis. According to the information provided by the Ministry in 2019, the participants of the Roundtable were the leaders of the most important organisations related to youth policy.
The main role of the organisation was to foster the conversation between the Government and youth: the Government provides information on current developments in youth policy and the heads of the organisations are able to
- ask questions or
- point out their planned programmes.
The main outcome of their activities so far has been a questionnaire, sent out by the Ministry to the members of the Roundtable (and also to a wider target group). The topic of the questionnaire was the future direction of youth policy. The Ministry summarised the feedbacks by topics, and they are going to involve them in the strategy documents in the future.
Since 2020 the Roundtable has not been convened. The main advisory body is currently the Board of the Children and Youth Fund (Gyermek és Ifjúsági Alapprogram Tanácsa). The Board provides the Minister responsible for children and youth policy with proposals, opinions and advice.
According to the 2023 information of Deputy State Secretariat for Youth Affairs, the main themes of youth policy in Hungary focus mainly on young people's mental health by
- supporting counselling centres,
- conducting tenders on young people's physical and mental health, and
- cooperating with other state agencies in this field. (For more information on young people mental well-being please see sub-chapter 7.5 Mental health)
The second main theme is career guidance. The unit responsible for young people has launched a course on career guidance in cooperation with the Family Friendly Hungary Centre (Családbarát Magyarország Központ), a non-profit limited liability company, and they also published a handbook on career guidance with the support of the Centre.
In the field of employment, in 2021, one main youth related provision was the personal income tax exemption under 25 years from January 2022 that helps young people in starting their life easier.
What informs the choice of themes
According to the National Youth Strategy, large-scale quantitative youth research studies are to be conducted every four years, the findings of which are also to be used in strategic planning. Although there is no institutionalised way to use the results of the youth research, it is often referred to when introducing new policies (for example data on the relatively low number of young people with language exams led to make the opportunity to acquire the first language exam free for people under the age of 35).
In addition, the Framework Programme for The Future of the New Generations plays a more important role in strategic planning, especially since there is no current action plan related to the implementation of the National Youth Strategy (the last one referred to 2016-17). Moreover, as mentioned above, the tasks related to the Framework Programme are assigned to a higher level, the Ministry for Culture and Innovation and the NYS is coordinated by the Department of Youth Affairs.
In addition, according to the information provided by the Ministry in 2018, the Government emphasises the role of involving young people in decision making, through representative organisations (such as the National Youth Council and the National Conference of Students' Unions).
Specific target groups
Supporting population policy
According to the Ministry's information in 2018, specific target groups include young people who are about to start a family. They are targeted through measures designed to encourage childbearing and the start of an independent life, in particular through the Family Housing Allowance Programme (CSOK) administered by the Ministry of Finance. This type of subsidy has also been extended to second-hand properties as of 1 July 2019.
In addition, firstly married couples are eligible for tax allowances, the system of family tax benefit aims to support families with children, and there are programmes targeting parents participating in higher education (the 'graduate' childcare benefit, the suspension or termination of the obligation to pay student loans depending on the number of children). (For related information please see sub-chapter 4.6 Access to quality services.)
For married young couples, from 1 July 2019 there is another support scheme based on the Regulation on 44/2019. (III.12.) [44/2019. (III. 12.) Korm. rendelet a babaváró támogatásról]: couples where women are between 18 and 40 years and living in their first marriage can receive an interest-free loan for general purposes of maximum of HUF 10 million (about EUR 30 000). There are also certain reductions depending on the number of children. The state is the third-party guarantee and gives credit also to the banks. This option is available until 31 December 2024 (the Government extended the deadline by two years at the beginning of 2023). The budget was extended since the beginning of the support scheme. It was
- around HUF 26 billion (about EUR 72 million) in 2020,
- around HUF 67.6 billion (about EUR 190 million) in 2021,
- around HUF 91.5 billion (about EUR 230 million) in 2022, and
- around 175.3 billion (about EUR 442 million) is planned for 2023.
(For more related information, please see sub-chapter 4.6 Access to quality services.)
Young people living abroad
Connections to Hungarians living outside the borders appear in several youth policy programmes, most notably the 'Without borders' ('Határtalanul') programme, which aims to build connections between Hungarian youth in public education and the ethnic Hungarian communities in the neighbouring countries. In 2021, a budget of HUF 5.3 billion (about EUR 14.5 million) has been dedicated for the programme. In 2019, about 300 000 students participated in the programme (Nemzetpolitikáért Felelős Államtitkár, 'Megjelentek a Határtalanul! program következő tanévének pályázati kiírásai').
A smaller-scale programme with similar aims is the Petőfi Sándor Programme (Petőfi Sándor Program) in which
young people were able to travel to the countries of the former Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy with the purpose of supporting and strengthening the scattered Hungarian communities. The programme is operated by the State Secretariat for National Policy of the Prime Minister’s Office. The 2020/2021 Programme was postponed due to the pandemic situation.
Young entrepreneurs are also supported through the 'Enter to the market!' programme ('Lépj a piacra!' program) which aims to prepare and support young people to start their own businesses. The programme started in 2017. The association organising this project is under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance. (For more information on this and other programmes for young entrepreneurs, see sub-chapter 3.9 Start-up funding for young entrepreneurs)
The National Agency for Youth
There is no national agency for youth in Hungary. There was an organisational network that fulfilled its task until 2022. The relevant Ministry is planning to develop an alternative organisational framework, once a decision has been taken on the use of funds for the EU budget cycle 2020-2027.
The national agency (Mobilitas National Youth Service) was founded in 1995 and existed until 2012 when New Generation Centre took over its roles. In 2020, the community places were closed down, and the Centre's tasks were transferred to its legal successor, Elisabeth Youth Fund [Erzsébet Ifjúsági Alap (referred hereinafter to as EYF)]. EYF was founded by the state of Hungary and the Elizabeth for the Children of Carpathian - Basin Foundation exercises its ownership rights.
The EYF's Directorate of Youth Profession Programmes (Ifjúságszakmai Programok Igazgatósága) coordinated the EU-financed project HRDOP-1.2.3-CCHOP-15-2015-00001: Complex Youth Developments – New Generation Reloaded (Új Nemzedék Újratöltve) which aimed also to provide methodological support and succeeded Mobilitas for the duration of the project. The total budget of the project was about HUF 5 billion (about EUR 13.4 million). Further activities of the Directorate included:
- methodological support for youth experts and organisations,
- methodological support for municipal youth work and municipal volunteering,
- methodological support for volunteering and hosting organisations, spreading the culture of volunteering, supporting volunteer programmes,
- development of national and international links among youth experts,
- creation and maintenance of databases related to youth profession,
- harmonisation of youth-related activities of different sectors,
- operation of a network of youth profession mentors,
- professional support for the social participation of young people,
- tasks related to the development of the digital skills of young people and to adult education and further learning of teachers. (Erzsébet Ifjúsági Alap, 1/2021. (I.05.) számú ügyvezetői utasítás)
Policy monitoring and evaluation
As mentioned above, the main tool for policy monitoring and evaluation is the large-scale youth research conducted every four years. However, ad hoc research is also conducted, usually on policy areas where youth are also affected (for example family policy and volunteering). There are no institutionalised mechanisms for applying the research findings, but they are regularly used in the formulation of strategic documents, background materials and policies. Also worth mentioning the main advisory body, the Board of the Children and Youth Fund (Gyermek és Ifjúsági Alapprogram Tanácsa).