5.4 Young people's participation in policy-making
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Youth participation and consultation is a basic principle of youth policy in Luxembourg. The 2008 Youth Law promotes youth participation and consultation on local and national level, mostly by reinforcing existing measures and organisations or by establishing new structures. At national level, youth consultation is mainly ensured by three bodies:
These bodies meet on a regular basis and play a predominant role in the national structured dialogue. The National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg and the Youth Information Centre are two further important organisations involved in the structured dialogue. The instrument of national structured dialogue was introduced in 2013. The main topic in the first cycle (2013-2014) was the Youth Guarantee. In the second cycle (2014-2015) the theme was 'access to housing for young people'. The method consists of consultation with young people from different backgrounds and larger meetings where organisations are involved and other interested people can present statements and discuss them with politicians (ministers). The National Working Group Luxembourg organises the current 9th cycle of the structured dialogue (January 2021 - June 2022). This working group is composed of representatives from different stakeholders in the youth field (see: Mission Statement). In 2021, the event 'Jugenddësch' on well-being and mental health of young people was organised. This consultation in the framework of the structured dialogue allowed for a constructive exchange between government representatives. experts and representatives of (non)organised youth (Jugenddësch). Consultation of young people also occurs on ad hoc occasions. During a meeting in autumn 2016, youth organisations and their representatives were given the possibility to exchange their views on the realisation of the Youth Guarantee in Luxembourg with the minister of Education, Children and Youth and the minister of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy. The young participants could express their different perspectives and claims. The results of the discussion were taken into account in the further development of the Youth Guarantee in Luxembourg.
According to the basic principle of a participatory youth policy approach, young people and youth representatives are strongly involved in the preparation of the national youth strategy that defines the main policy themes of national youth policy (see: 1.3 National youth strategy). The participation and consultation of young people is organised by the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth in close cooperation with the National Youth Council and the umbrella organisation of youth centres (DLJ; Daachverband vun de Lëtzebuerger Jugendstrukturen).
The Higher Youth Council, the National Youth Council and the National Assembly of Young People are the 3 main organisations at national level.
1 - The Higher Youth Council, which was introduced by the 2008 Youth Law, is an advisory board studying youth issues, either on its own initiative or by request of the government. The council recommends reforms and innovations aiming at increasing young people's well-being (2008 Youth Law, Art. 12).
It is composed of 19 representatives of several organisations and administrations concerned with youth issues (e.g. eight representatives of youth organisations) (2015 grand-ducal regulation on youth, Art. 1).
2 - The National Youth Council is an umbrella organisation that gathers the youth organisations in Luxembourg. Its main objective is to increase active participation of young people in society.
Organisations associated with the National Youth Council are political youth movements, labour union youth movements, scouts and guides, socio-cultural and leisure associations for the young.
The Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies organises youth conventions in cooperation with the National Youth Council. During these events young people have the opportunity to sit in parliament and meet deputies.
3 - The National Assembly of Young People, established by the 2008 Youth Law, gives young people and youth organisations the possibility to participate in the examination of all issues related to actions and policy on behalf of young people at national and at European level.
The National Assembly of Young People is constituted by delegates from youth organisations and NGOs working on behalf of young people, as well as individual young persons. A plenary session is mandatory at least once a year (2008 Youth Law, Art. 14).
At local level, some municipalities organise youth councils or youth forums, where young people can participate in local planning by making suggestions, articulating their needs or providing criticism. Most municipalities also regularly convene an advisory youth commission where young people or party representatives can become members and give advice on youth-related issues and political decisions at local level. These commissions meet on a regular basis.
The Municipal Youth Plan represents another instrument on the local level that promotes the participation of young people. The 2008 Youth Law reinforces the implementation of Municipal Youth Plans.
Currently, there is no systematic mechanism of data collection/monitoring of the process of consultation of young people with regard to decision making.
At European level, many recommendations adopted at the EU Youth Conference in Luxembourg in September 2015 were integrated into the Council Resolution on encouraging political participation of young people in democratic life in Europe. These joint recommendations were elaborated during the IV cycle on structured dialogue under the Trio Presidency Italy-Latvia-Luxembourg. Outcomes of the consultations held in the framework of the national structured dialogue are documented and available online. In 2014 and 2015, youth organisations were consulted on housing policy and were given the opportunity to present their statements on this issue. Statements of young people in the framework of round table discussions with politicians were also documented (in 2015) and evaluated in a follow-up two years later (2017). At national level, the Youth Pact is the most important policy document into which young people's opinions have been directly integrated (see: 1.3 National youth strategy). At local level, a number of youth action plans have been elaborated in the framework of the Municipal Youth Plan (Heinen et al., 2009). These action plans are the result of an empirical analysis of the situation of young people and a counselling process of young people themselves (by youth forums or world cafés, for instance). These action plans guide local youth policy for a defined period of time. While most of the scientific analyses are available online (e.g. Heinen et al., 2007; Meyers et al., 2009, 2012), most of the action plans are internal documents that are not publicly available.
Beyond the formal mechanisms of consultation described above, there are further opportunities for young people and youth representative bodies to enter into dialogue with policy-makers. For instance, if:
- Members of the National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg and the minister of Education, Children and Youth had a debate on the scheduling of exams or met representatives of the political parties to talk about the reform of secondary education
- Members of the National Youth Council participated in a hearing at the Chamber of Deputies on the integration of young refugees
- Members of the National Pupil Conference of Luxembourg participated in the consultation process to evaluate the health measures in schools and care facilities in the context of the COVID-19 health crisis.