5.4 Young people's participation in policy-making
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A national youth policy is developed in consultation with the EU, national and municipal, governmental and non-governmental actors in the field of youth policy. The consultations are designed to create, encourage and strengthen various forms of cooperation between actors. The consultations take place through a network of youth organizations, business and civil society representatives. The consultations with LiJOT representatives are taken in meetings on drafting and preparation of legal documents. The open system TAIS (Legal Acts Information System) includes possibilities to monitor the whole process of legislation adoption. Regional youth affairs councils are also included into policy consultations. Municipality youth affairs coordinators are included in consultations as well as Youth Guarantee coordinators in each of the 60 municipalities. The tool with the information acout each youth centre in municipalities has been created in order have on-hand information and to make consultations more effective. The EU Structured Dialogue between policy-makers, young people and their representatives is widely seen as a promising tool for listening to young people. The Structured Dialogue has yet to fulfil its full potential: It still fails to reach a wider group of young people with fewer opportunities. The following preparatory work is carried out in order to gain adequate understanding of the actual needs of young people: consultations with and collecting information from municipal councils for youth affairs, coordinators for youth affairs, regional youth councils and youth organisations (organisations working with youth), employees of municipality administration, representatives of non-governmental organisations, communities, and other stakeholders (experts, entrepreneurs etc.). The main policy themes covered by youth policy are identified through information and statistical (EU and national) data collection: analysis of documents (EU and national strategic documents, youth programs / conceptions, research reports and articles on youth related issues, organizing events (discussions, meetings etc.), analysis of good practices, EU and national document analysis (e.g. EU recommendations in the youth policy) and synthesis, plan preparation and monitoring of implementation. Youth activities and activities of Youth organisations in Lithuania are remarkably well documented and presented. They present a consistent analysis of the background situation and define the approach of each relevant organisation to it. Each ministry also provides reports and uses all necessary statistical and research information.
Youth consultation and counseling is carried out in accordance with the European Youth Information Charter. In 2013 the Guidelines on Youth Information and Counceling were prepared (updated in 2015) by the Department of Youth Affairs. Currently, Lithuania has 40 Eurodesk Lithuania regional representatives (in Vilnius, Mazeikiai, Rietavas, Plunge, Siauliai, Panevezys, Utena, Molėtai, Birzai, Alytus, Lazdijai, Ukmerge, Gargzdai, Silale, Visaginas, Zarasai, Rokiškis, Radviliškis, Kupiškis and Marijampole).
2021 The National Youth Policy Action Plan for 2021 is being implemented, the aim of which is to identify measures to strengthen the implementation of youth policy at the national level, ensuring interdepartmental cooperation between the public, private and non-governmental sectors. The measures shall be implemented in order to:
- to ensure the development of the social security system that meets the various needs of young people
- to develop a conscious, civic, patriotic, mature, cultural, and creative personality of a young person who is able to be an active part of a diverse society
- develop and coordinate the youth work system and ensure the development of youth employment infrastructure
- to facilitate the consistent and high-quality activities of young people and organizations working with young people in order to increase the involvement of young people in organized activities
- ensure cooperation between the public, private and non-governmental sectors in developing coherent, factual and knowledge-based youth policies
Youth policy is developed and implemented according to a cross-sectorial approach. In real life this approach is translated into cooperation across different sectors: government, public institutions (health, education, environment, culture, sport, etc.), the public, NGOs, business and media. The main youth actors (e.g. youth representatives, organisations, students associations, youth parliaments and councils, etc.) involved in the consultation processes are described in section 5.3.
On the national level, LiJOT holds structured dialogue consultations in collaboration with the open youth centers and their employees, youth organsations. Information about ongoing consultation process and participation opportunities is available to all young people, especially focusing on the youth that do not belong to youth organisations. LiJOT informally monitors legislation adoption and acts on behalf of youth representatives. LiJOT administers its own database on young people including those from vulnerable groups; however, the monitoring of the uptake of the consultations’ results in EU and national policy remains a challenge. There are no formal mechanisms of data collection/ monitoring of the processes of consultation of young people to policy-making.
At the municipal level any young person in Lithuania has a possibility to participate in the municipal council and the municipal commission meetings and submit proposals to the municipal administration on issues of young people. Young people from vulnerable groups are equally free to engage in these processes. In most cases this option is exercised engaging them in youth organizations, informal groups and pupils‘ self-governance activities. Youth coordinators in municipalities engage members of vulnerable youth in various events on youth policy. They also coordinate the municipal council youth work, cooperates with youth organizations and youth related information and performing other functions contribute to the engaging young people from vulnerable groups in the youth policy decision-making. Policy measures for involvement migrant youth in youth policy and activities is not yet well developed, but the LiJOT and youth coordinators in municipalities are aware of the challenges faced by migrant youth and discuss these issues in conferences and meetings. For exapmle charity fund "For the Young" (Jauniems) implemented the project "Regional youth policy strengthening for civic engagement," in 2015 which included a conference on youth policy makers and NGOs‘ partnerships.
Lithuania organised a Structured Dialogue on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, including a public consultation, a conference and a round table with ministers in 2015. ‘X-Y-Z’ project focused on the involvement of NEETs in youth policy processes. Lithuania has prepared a Structured Dialogue communication strategy and uses social media networks to attract non-organized youth and young Lithuanians living in remote areas or abroad. There also exists Memorandum on Youth Guarantees Implementation Monitoring. However, in the interest of accountability and to motivate young people to stay engaged, policymakers at all levels should provide better feedback on their responses through the European Youth Portal and national working groups.
Lithuania organised a Structured Dialogue on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, including a public consultation, a conference and a round table with ministers in 2015. The ‘X-Y-Z’ project focused on the involvement of NEETs in youth policy processes. Lithuania has prepared a Structured Dialogue communication strategy and uses social media networks to attract non-organized youth and young Lithuanians living in remote areas or abroad. There also exists Memorandum on Youth Guarantees Implementation Monitoring. All 60 Lithuanian municipalities have prepared long-term (2013–2018) strategic documents on youth policy followed by medium-term (2013–2015) action plans and monitoring and control systems for their implementation. The following structures implementing youth policy were involved into the consultations while preparing these plans: municipal council for youth affairs, coordinator for youth affairs, regional youth council or other youth organisations or organisations working with youth, employees of municipality administration, representatives of non-governmental organisations and communities. Approximately 500 local and national events (trainings, discussions, presentations) involving almost 7000 participants were organised drawing up these plans. There are at least 2 long-term aims provided in each plan and at least 2 objectives for each of the aims are indicated. Plans also include partner institutions and indicate a level of their involvement. Plans and action plans also include assessment criteria for each of long-term aims.