5.10 Current debates and reforms
As previously mentioned, multilevel governance, participatory youth policy-making and the involvement of civil society are key issues in youth policy-making in Portugal.
Fostering participatory policy-making practices in the field of youth policies is one of the current Government’s priorities. Far from only listening and taking into account young peoples’ needs and expectations, the government is committed to deepen multilevel governance in youth policy, through the following mechanisms:
Regulation of the Legal Framework for Youth Associatiativism
Between September 2016 and November 2017, took place the revision process of the Legal Framework of Youth Associativism (Law No. 23/2006, 23rd July, republished by the Law 57/2019, 7th August), in which were also framed the support programmes to the development of youth associations activities.
The youth association movement, like other players in the youth state policies, has demanded amendments, specifically regarding matters of tributary nature, which were, among others, discussed in a work group created to undertake the before mentioned assessment. This group was composed by representatives of the Office of the Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth, I.P., National Youth Council and National Federation of Youth Associations.
This process began with an invitation to all organisations of the Youth Advisory Council so they would send their contributions to the Permanent Secretariat — the legislative amendment was preceded by two meetings for audition of the Council’s members, besides other parallel meetings with several youth organisations, including the district federations of youth associations.
Law no. 57/2019, of 7 August, made a number of changes to the legal framework of youth associations, namely:
a) Alteration in the associative typology, with greater emphasis on the youth character of youth associations and in the determination of their activity by youth (up to the age of 30), including a president of the board mandatorily with age up to the age of 30.
b) The introduction of a new entity in the associative typology, called youth association, which will also have a specific support program, which allows revaluing the entities that, not being led or majority constituted by young people, dedicate to them the essential of their activity.
c) Revision of the concept of informal groups, which need fewer young people and where one person of legal age is enough to lead a group that may have young people under 18 years of age.
(d) Improvement of the conditions and rights of associations, particularly in the field of taxation (IRS, IRC, VAT, patronage) and also facilitating the creation of associations, free of charge for young people.
e) Improvement of the access of student associations and federations to support and benefit from infrastructure support.
(f) Development of associations of Portuguese descendants.
The new Legal Framework of Youth Associations emphasizes the role of youth associativism in the expression of the participative citizenship of young people, and in the access to the acquisition of skills in non-formal education. The new law provides for an integrated set of incentive and support programmes and mechanisms that, in addition to financial support, integrate training (Formar + Programme), boost these entities in the social economy and the enhancement of professional internships and employment in the third sector (IDA Programme), the enhancement of the activity of associative leader, the annual award of best practices and the celebration of the movement itself and the voluntary activity of young people.
National Youth Plan
The first National Youth Plan is a political instrument that aims to ensure youth’s integration in other political domains, defining a sustainable strategy for youth policies, with an approach based on rights and that engages young people in the several phases of the process: planning, implementation and assessment. It is coordinated by IPDJ, I.P., and engages other state administration organisms and civil society organizations. The National Youth Plan has envisaged a Follow-Up Committee, composed by a CNJ representative, another one from FNAJ, a regarded person of recognized standing and an IPDJ representative, who is the chairman. Thereby a gradual and closer participation in PNJ’s process of follow-up by the representative youth platforms is intended to be ensured.
The PNJ has been subjected to two evaluative moments: semiannual and annual monitoring, from which result the respective assessment reports, which reflect the level of execution of the measures that integrate the respective Action Plans, as well as the state where the measures are.
This process of follow-up and monitoring (which will soon have a quarterly periodicity) prints an active and dynamic management of the execution of the PNJ, allowing a timely action, whenever there are deviations / constraints to the fulfillment of the defined indicators and / or goals.
The evaluative analyzes and the respective reports are based on the data reported by the Governmental Areas / entities / services of the IPDJ, I.P. involved in the NPC through their focal points.
These reports are analyzed and subject to a non-binding opinion by the PNJ Monitoring Commission, made up of representatives of the IPDJ, I.P. (who presides); the National Youth Council; of the National Federation of Youth Associations and by a person of recognized merit in the sector, appointed by the member of the Government responsible for this area.
Analyzing the quantitative and qualitative data available and the results presented from the first two years of the PNJ's validity, we can conclude that this National Plan, as a national strategic document for the Youth area, has been showing itself as an instrument where the participation of young people and youth organizations, from the conception phase, to its implementation and evaluation, is a fundamental aspect.