5.3 Youth representation bodies
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The National Assembly of Young People (Assemblée nationale des jeunes) is the Luxembourgish youth parliament established by the 2008 Youth Law. It is constituted by delegates from youth organisations and NGOs working on behalf of young people, as well as individual young persons (2008 Youth Law, Art. 14). The National Assembly of Young People is not part of the constitutional structure. It is politically independent, but supported by the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth. An agreement between the Ministry in charge of youth policy, the National Youth Council, the Youth Information Centre and the executive committee of the assembly defines the organisation of the National Assembly of Young People. Rules and regulations are defined by the Internal Regulation of the National Assembly of Young People. According to this agreement, the National Youth Council is composed of four bodies:
- The plenary assembly
- The executive committee
- Four permanent commissions
- A media group.
The National Youth Council is in charge of material and logistical support and of the educational support of the National Assembly of Young People. One project collaborator of the National Youth Council has been assigned this task; furthermore, the collaborator is affiliated with the executive committee. The Youth Information Centre supports the National Youth Council by providing information on political issues and contributes to the organisation of events in the framework of the plenary meetings.
The number of participants is approximately 50 in the 2020/21 parliamentary term.
All young people between 14 and 24 years of age and living in Luxembourg are eligible. The members of the Assembly are not selected by election but may apply for membership, so that every young person interested can participate. The parliamentary term starts on 1 October and finishes by 30 September. A plenary session is mandatory at least once a year. According to the Internal Regulation of the National Assembly of Young People, the plenary session takes place three times a year. The Youth Information Centre is in charge of the recruitment of participants. It visits secondary schools in Luxembourg with a special vehicle (the so-called 'Infomobile') and informs about the activities of the Assembly in order to stimulate pupils' interest in getting involved as active members. This promotion is an important activity facilitating larger inclusiveness and diversity.
Role and responsibilities
The main objective of the National Assembly of Young People is to give young people and youth organisations the opportunity to participate in the study of all issues related to actions and policy on behalf of young people at national and European level. On the one hand, the National Assembly of Young People allows young people to have a say in the political debate, discuss and present their opinions on political issues. On the other hand, it is also an educational programme. Young participants are expected to engage in a political debate and, by doing so, they learn democratic processes and become acquainted with policy. The main outputs of the assembly's work are the statements and resolutions that commissions or individuals can draft and bring to vote (Internal Regulation of the National Assembly of Young People). These are presented and voted by the members at a plenary meeting and adopted by simple majority. Adopted statements and resolutions represent the official position of the Assembly. They are published on the webpage and communicated to the media. The Assembly does not have to be consulted in the legislation process by policy-makers and thus has no direct influence on the legislative process. The topics regularly dealt with by the National Assembly of Young People are reflected in 4 permanent commissions that deal with specific political issues. These commissions are:
- Foreign and European Affairs, Defence, International Cooperation and Immigration (Affaires Étrangères et Européennes, de la Défense, de la Coopération et de l'Immigration)
- Economy and Employment (Économie et Travail)
- Education and Environment (Éducation et Environnement)
- Equal opportunities and Education (Égalité des Chances et Intégration).
The National Assembly of Young People receives funding from the ministry of Education, Children and Youth in the form of the financing of one full time collaborator (employed by the National Youth Council) and administrative costs. The National Youth Council which supports the Assembly is accountable to the national Erasmus+ agency Anefore (which is accountable to the European Union) and to the ministry of Education, Children and Youth.
a) Higher Youth Council (Conseil supérieur de la jeunesse)
The Higher Youth Council has been introduced by the 2008 Youth Law. It is established at national level and is not part of the Luxembourgish constitutional structure. It is supervised by the ministry in charge of youth policy (ministry of Education, Children and Youth). It is composed of 19 representatives of several organisations and administrations concerned with youth issues (including 8 young representatives of youth organisations, 4 representatives of youth services, 4 representatives of organisations that work on behalf of young people, 2 student representatives, 1 representative of Syvicol, 1 representative of the National Assembly of Young People, 1 representative of the ministry in charge of youth policy and 1 representative of youth research) (2015 grand-ducal regulation on youth (règlement grand-ducal du 31 mai 2015 modifiant le règlement grand-ducal du 9 janvier 2009 sur la jeunesse), Art. 1). Members are selected by the ministry of Education, Children and Youth and nominated by the minister in charge of youth policy. Meetings are called for by the minister, the president of the council or by written request of 1/3 of its members (Art. 25). The council does not meet on a regular basis. It may establish commissions or working groups that are assigned a permanent mission or analyse a particular issue (Art. 26). Decisions can only be made when a majority of members are present (Art. 28). The duration of the mandate is three years. The Higher Youth Council is an advisory board studying youth-related issues, either of its own initiative or by request of the government. The council recommends reforms and innovations aiming at increasing the well-being of young people (2008 Youth Law, Art. 12). In the past, the council drafted several statements dealing with issues such as the revision of the 2008 Youth Law or the participation of young people at the local level. The Higher Youth Council receives funding from the ministry of Education, Children and Youth and is accountable to it.
b) National Youth Council (Jugendrot)
The National Youth Council is an umbrella organisation and interest group of young people and youth organisations in Luxembourg. The council has a total number of 27 member organisations which are divided into four groups:
- Political youth movements,
- Labour union youth movements
- Scouts and guides
- Socio-cultural and leisure associations for the young.
Applicants for a membership in the council have to fulfil certain conditions (members have to be mostly under 35 years of age, at least 100 members, promote the interest of young people, organise activities in the framework of its social objectives). The organisation is composed of an executive committee with 11 member organisations. It determines which projects are implemented and is in charge of the further development of the council. There are 3 full-time collaborators: 2 full-time collaborators support the National Assembly of Young People and the National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg; a third collaborator was hired in 2017 to support projects in the field of political participation. The council is funded by the state budget and further sources (Erasmus+, member fees) and is supervised by the ministry of Education, Children and Youth. The organisations associated with the National Youth Council include political youth movements, labour union youth movements, scouts and guides, as well as socio-cultural and leisure associations for young people. The main objective of the Youth Council is to increase active participation of young people in society. The Council and its collaborators are in charge of the realisation of various projects. These include, inter alia, the support of the National Assembly of Young People (see: Youth parliament), the organisation of events such as the youth conventions, where young people have the opportunity to sit in parliament and meet deputies, or the city rally, where young people can explore both the capital city and different topics related to civic education. The council is an important partner organisation in the framework of the European structured dialogue. The Activity Reports presented by the council provide a complete overview of projects and activities.
There are several bodies representing the interest of tertiary education students in Luxembourg. Since a large number of students study abroad, most members of the student unions are enrolled at universities in other European countries. With regard to legislation, there is neither a legal framework establishing the higher education student unions in Luxembourg nor are the unions a part of Luxembourg's constitutional structure.
a) Luxembourg National Union of Students (UNEL; Union Nationale des Étudiant(e)s du Luxembourg)
The Luxembourg National Union of Students is an interest group that represents students' interests at university level, but also in secondary education and vocational school. It fights for a more democratic university and school system and for a society based on justice and solidarity. The coordinating group, composed of 2 spokespersons and 3 secretaries, is the administrative body of the Luxembourg National Union of Students. This group mainly deals with the following issues:
- Higher education and student life
- Secondary education and students’ rights
- Youth unemployment
- Societal issues
The topics and political issues are focused on by four working groups:
- Higher education policies
- Secondary education policy
- International issues
Most of the work takes place on digital platforms, which means that participants do not need to be present in Luxembourg to contribute and be part of the working groups. There is no public funding. The UNEL is financed by membership fees.
b) Association of Luxembourg Student Circles (ACEL; Association des Cercles d’Étudiants Luxembourgeois)
The Association of Luxembourg Student Circles represents 44 student circles (Luxembourgish student organisations located at universities abroad). Its objectives are threefold:
- Bringing together Luxembourgish students, living abroad and also in Luxembourg
- Informing students and future students
- Representing the students and fighting for their rights on national and international level.
The association is managed by a committee composed of 11 to 14 members. Mandates are for one year and can be renewed. Board members have to fulfil certain conditions (e.g. Luxembourgish nationality or residence, enrolment in a post-secondary education institution, having no other mandate in a political party or student association). The committee organises various events throughout the year, such as 'student for one day' or student proms. It drafts information leaflets (e.g. guides for students, information on student allowances, cookbook) and statements on political issues (e.g. increase of student allowances, free use of public transportation). There is no public funding. The ACEL is financed by membership fees.
c) Luxembourg Association of Catholic University Students (ALUC; Association Luxembourgeoise des Universitaires Catholiques)
The Luxembourg Association of Catholic University Students advocates students' interests in dialogue with the appropriate authorities and other student unions. In order to express intellectual, religious, political and cultural values and become present in the public discourse, the ALUC hosts conferences and prepares informative publications. In accordance with its Christian orientation, the association supports its members in their search for values and purpose in life. There is no public funding. The ALUC is financed by membership fees.
Besides these bodies representing the interests of students, the 2018 law on the organisation of the University of Luxembourg (loi du 27 juin 2018 ayant pour objet l'organisation de l'Université du Luxembourg) also defines the student council (délégation des étudiants) as a representation of students and their interests within the university. According to this law, the president of the student council is member of the board of governors with an advisory function (Art. 6,4), six students are to be elected to the university council (Art. 13,1) and three students are to be elected to the faculty council (Art. 15,4).
The National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg (CNEL; Conférence nationale des Élèves du Luxembourg) is the national body that represents the interests of secondary school students at national level. It is composed of 1 member and 1 alternate member of each student council (comité d'élèves) of secondary schools in Luxembourg. Both the student councils of each secondary school and the National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg have a legal basis:
- 2001 grand-ducal regulation on the organisation of student councils
- 2015 grand-ducal regulation on the organisation of the National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg.
a) Student Council (comité d’élèves)
Student councils are elected every second year by all the pupils enrolled in secondary schools; voting is compulsory. The student council meets at least twice in a trimester. All pupils can stand as candidates and must submit their application to the school's principal. Student councils are composed of 7 to 13 members who are between 12 and 19 years of age. Certain expenses can be paid by the school budget (after approval of the principal). In each school, the most important priorities of the student council are:
- To represent all students with respect to matters relating to the directorate, the teachers' committee, the parents' council, etc.
- To inform pupils about their rights and duties, especially by means of the intermediate role of the class delegates
- To organise cultural, social and sport activities
- To draft propositions regarding academic life and students' work (SNJ, 2008).
The school's principal has to meet with the student council whenever a meeting is requested. The student council delegates its representatives to the National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg and to the education council of the school. 1 candidate and 1 deputy member are selected by the student council of the secondary school.
b) National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg (Conférence nationale des Élèves du Luxembourg)
The National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg is an advisory committee of the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth. Its task is to advise the Ministry on all issues concerning the pupils, in order to make it aware of existing problems and to propose solutions. In addition, the Ministry seeks the advice of the pupil conference when developing a new law or regulation that affects pupils directly or indirectly. The National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg meets once in a month. The age range of its members stretches from 12 to 19 years of age. A coordination group is in charge of the common tasks that arise between meetings. The members of the coordination group are elected at the first meeting by the members of the conference by simple majority. The National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg is supported by an administrative secretary of the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth. The duration of the mandate is two years. The National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg is represented in different committees on the national level such as the Higher Educational Council (Conseil supérieur de l'Éducation nationale), the Higher Youth Council (Conseil supérieur de la jeunesse) and the Vocational Training Committee (Comité à la formation professionnelle). Furthermore, it can designate representatives to working groups within the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth and other ministries (SNJ, 2008). The National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg receives funding from the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth in the form of the financing of one full-time collaborator (employed by the National Youth Council).
The Luxembourgish labour unions have youth departments/sections where young people can be involved and represent their interests. The following three labour unions have such youth departments:
- Independent Luxembourg Trade Union Confederation-youth (OGB-L-jeunes; Onofhängege Gewerkschaftsbond Lëtzebuerg-jeunes )
- Luxembourg Confederation of Christian Trade Unions-youth (LCGB-LCGJ-jeunes; Lëtzebuerger Chrëschtleche Gewerkschaftsbond - jeunes)
- National Federation of Railroad Workers, Transport Workers, Civil Servants and Employees (FNCTTFEL; Fédération nationale des cheminots, travailleurs du transport, fonctionnaires et employés).