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The Youth Parliament in Portugal is an educational programme to promote citizenship, which aims to boost the interest of young people in civic and political participation.
Approved by the Resolution no. 42/2006, of 2nd June, the Youth Parliament programme is an initiative of the Portuguese Parliament, whose implementation is developed in partnership with the following entities: the Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Regional Secretariats of Education and Youth of Madeira and the Azores.
It is intended for young people attending the 2nd and 3rd cycle levels of basic education, as well as high school (secondary education). The Youth Parliament programme is an initiative that takes place every school year in public, private and cooperative education inside the country and at the Portuguese communities in and outside Europe.
Therefore, the Youth Parliament in Portugal is not a representation body to put in place youth interests. It is mainly an educational programme.
But the Portuguese institutional framework provides for several youth representation bodies, in various scopes. In terms of national scope, there are two major platforms that represent youth and the youth associationism movement: the National Youth Council and the National Federation of Youth Associations. Also, within national scope, we have the Youth Advisory Council, which is the advisory body of the member of Government responsible for the field of youth and which is also chaired by this member. The organic law of the IPDJ also provides for the existence of its own Advisory Council, which supports and participates in establishing the guidelines for its scope of action. Finally, at a regional and local level, there are Regional Advisory Councils and Youth City Councils.
It is the platform of the national youth organisations that represents youth interests and promotes the participation of young people in the formulation, implementation and assessment of youth policies. It comprises 45 youth organisations from various sectors (student, scout, cultural, sports, socio-educational, religious) and it rules on several advisory areas on matters of youth interest (e.g., Advisory Council on Youth, Advisory Committee of the IPDJ, National Education Council, National Council for Drugs, Drug Addiction and the Harmful Use of Alcohol, Committee for the Coordination and Monitoring of the Youth Guarantee, RTP’s Advisory Council, Parliamentary Committee hearings and working groups for youth matters). At an international level, it represents the Portuguese youth in places such as the European Youth Forum, the CPLP Youth Forum and the Ibero-American Youth Organisation (OIJ).
The status of being the contact for young people before the ruling power is regulated in its legal statute (Law no. 1/2006), which indicates that the State must take its advise ‘as a contact for young people on all issues regarding youth’ (article 5th, paragraph c)), being that the institutional participation in the formulation of policies affecting youth and in the creation of legislation are also referred in article 8th. Without prejudice to participation rights granted to different youth organisations individually, the National Youth Council (CNJ) integrates the organs of participation and concertation where youth interests should be globally represented (according to paragraph 2, of Article 8th).
The Direction of the CNJ, elected every two years, consists of young people under 30 (30 included), belonging to organisations integrated in the platform, and elected by the General Assembly. The three governing bodies – Board of Directors, General Assembly and Supervisory Board – follow internal regulations. Part of the CNJ’s funding is public, meaning it must report to the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports and to the IPDJ. The organisation also applies for national and European funding programmes.
Another fundamental platform of representation for young Portuguese, for its wide local base of involvement, is the National Federation of Youth Associations. FNAJ represents youth organisations at a local level and their regional federations, defending young people’s aspirations and fighting for the resolution of their problems; promotes associative life as an instrument of active participation for young people in local communities, and encourages civic and associative education for young people. It represents local associative life in advisory organisms such as the Advisory Council on Youth, the Advisory Committee of the IPDJ, the National Council for Drugs, Drug Addiction and the Harmful Use of Alcohol, the Committee for Assessment and Selection of the Erasmus+ Youth and Action programme, among other processes in which public youth policies are defined. It has around 1,000 affiliated associations. FNAJ has four governing bodies and its statutes and rules are available on the organisation website. Its funding comes from IPDJ programmes for youth associations and from applications for national and international funds.
Advisory Council on Youth - CCJ
The architecture of public youth policies involves a building where there are proper spaces and time, beyond those that the democratic expression can find on their own accord, for the expression of positions on how to best defend young people's interests. Thus, the Advisory Council on Youth (Conselho Consultivo da Juventude) is an advisory body of the Government member responsible for youth affairs and concertation of youth policies. According to article 2nd of Decree-Law no. 129/2015, the Advisory Council on Youth is responsible for:
- Examining the issues concerning global youth policy;
- Examining the issues concerning civic participation and social and economic integration of young people;
- Assessing projects of sector-specific legislation, in sections concerning youth issues;
- Identifying priority fields for intervention in the youth sector, in the context of the White Paper on Youth;
- Identifying fields for intervention, in the context of the European strategies agreed upon by the EU Member States for each decade;
- Establishing structured dialogue procedures.
The Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) is chaired by the member of the government responsible for the youth sector and it is composed of 23 organisations representing the most diverse interests of young people (students, unions, business, scouts, cultural, sports and cultural), being that other organisations with relevant work in the youth field may also take part in its meetings, as explained in article 1st of the above-mentioned Decree-Law.
CCJ has the following structure:
- Five representatives nominated by the National Youth Council, that cannot represent other participant organisations of the CCJ;
- Five representatives nominated by the National Federation of Youth Associations, that cannot represent other participant organisations of the CCJ;
- One representative of the UGT Youth Commission;
- One representative of INTERJOVEM;
- One representative of the National Young Entrepreneurs Association;
- One representative of the Portuguese Young Farmers Association;
- One representative of each of the youth organisations of parties with seats in the Assembly of the Republic (Parliament);
- One representative of the university student associations;
- One representative of the National Federation of Polytechnic (Higher Education) Student Associations;
- One representative of the Federation of University Sports;
- One representative of the student associations in secondary education;
- One representative of the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities;
- One representative of the National Association of Civil Parishes;
- One representative of the Department of Youth of the National Confederation of Family Associations;
- One representative of the National Scouts Corps;
- One representative of the Portuguese Scouts Association;
- One representative of the Portuguese Girl Scouts Association;
- One representative of the National Culture Centre;
- One representative of the Portuguese communities in the world.
The Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) meets, ordinarily, every three months or, extraordinarily, whenever convened by its president. Specialised committees, intended to assess specific issues can also be created. These meetings are properly minuted and the issues addressed are varied, covering youth employment and support programmes, youth associative life, youth hostels’ management, and the national Government budgets for the youth sector, among other topics.
As an example, here are some of the topics of the Advisory Council on Youth’s agenda:
- The Legal Framework of Youth Associativism ;
- Youth employment and the Youth Guarantee programme;
- Presentation of the National Government Budget for Youth;
- Information on Movijovem’s co-management - inclusion of the National Youth Council and of the National Federation of Youth Associations in the share capital and decision-making bodies of the cooperative that runs Youth Hostels and the Youth Card initiative in Portugal;
- Presentation of the European Solidarity Corps Programme;
- Consultation on legislation or regulation amendments;
- Consultation concerning the National Youth Plan.
Its funding is included in the operating costs of the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports.
Advisory Council of the institute IPDJ (Conselho Consultivo do IPDJ)
The organic law of the Portuguese Institute for Youth and Sports provides for the existence of the Advisory Council of the IPDJ, I.P. (article 9th, Decree-Law no. 98/2011, revised by Decree-Law no. 132/2014 of 3rd September), which is the advisory, support and participation body concerning the formulation of the institute’s general courses of action and the decision-making procedures of the governing body.
This Advisory Council is composed by nine elements in the sports and youth sectors and it can meet in plenary session or in specialised sections. In its composition, the following entities directly linked to youth are highlighted:
- The president of the IPDJ, I. P., who presides;
- A representative nominated by the National Youth Council;
- A representative nominated by the National Federation of Youth Associations;
- A representative nominated by the associations for students in higher education;
- A representative nominated by the associations for students in basic and secondary education.
The Advisory Council of the IPDJ is responsible for issuing opinions on:
- The annual and multiannual activity plans and on the activity report;
- Other matters submitted by the president.
The Advisory Council meets, ordinarily, at least twice a year and, extraordinarily, whenever convened by its president, or at the request of one third of its members. Any person or entity whose presence is deemed necessary to clarify the topics under consideration can be convened by the president to participate in the meetings, but with no voting rights.
Regional Advisory Councils of the IPDJ
At a regional level, the statutes of the IPDJ foresee the existence of the Regional Advisory Councils (CCR), corresponding to the five regional directorates of the IPDJ (North, Centre, Lisbon and the Tagus Valley, Alentejo and Algarve). The Regional Advisory Council (CCR) is the representative structure of sports and youth associative life in the region, as explained in article 22nd of Ordinance no. 11/2012 of 11th January.
The Regional Advisory Council (CCR) is responsible for presenting proposals, suggestions or recommendations on actions, initiatives and programmes promoted by the IPDJ, I. P., covering its respective region.
It is composed by seven elements, mostly linked to the youth associative movement (paragraph 3, article 22nd of Ordinance no. 11/2012 of 11th January).
The Regional Advisory Council meets, ordinarily, at least twice a year and, extraordinarily, whenever convened by the Regional Director, or at the request of one third of its members.
Advisory Councils in the autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira
In the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores, there are also formal mechanisms for young people consultation:
The Regional Advisory Council for Youth (Conselho Consultivo Regional da Juventude – CCRJ) is the advisory body of the Regional Government of the Azores on matters concerning young people (Regional Legislative Decree no. 10/99/A, which reformulates the Regional Advisory Council for Youth – CCRJ);
Local Advisory Bodies: Youth City Councils
At a local level, Youth City Councils (CMJ) have been implemented since the approval of Law no. 6/2012 of 10th February, amending Law no. 8/2009 of 18th February, and creating the Legal Framework for Youth City Councils.
Youth City Councils (CMJ) are the municipalities’ advisory bodies on matters concerning youth policy, assisting in the formulation and implementation of youth municipal policies and ensuring its articulation and coordination with other sectoral policies, particularly in the following sectors: employment and professional training; housing; basic, secondary and higher education; culture; sports: health and social welfare, as explained in article 3rd of Law no. 6/2012. The Youth City Council (CMJ) approves its own rules of procedure.
The CMJ has the following structure:
a) The mayor, who presides;
b) One member of the municipal assembly of each party or group of citizens/voters represented in the municipal assembly;
c) The representative of the municipality’s city council in the regional youth council;
d) One representative of each youth association headquartered in the municipality enrolled in the National Register of Youth Associations (RNAJ);
e) One representative of each basic and secondary education students association headquartered in the municipality;
f) One representative of each higher education students association headquartered in the municipality;
g) One representative from each student federation enrolled in RNAJ, whose geographical scope of action is limited to the municipality or area in which the students associations headquartered in the municipality represent more than 50% of the associates;
h) One representative of each political youth organisation with representation in the city council's bodies or in the Assembly of the Republic (Parliament);
i) One representative of each youth association and entities equivalent to juvenile associations, in accordance with paragraph no. 3 of article 3rd, of Law no. 57/2019 of 7 August , at a national level.
The municipal assembly is responsible for approving the rules of the respective municipal youth council. The internal CMJ charter is approved by the members of the board and must include the operating rules that are not provided for in the Code of Administrative Proceedings or in the law ruling the CMJ.
In regard to financing, the law does not provide specific financing guarantees to the CMJ; however, it stipulates that the Municipal Council is responsible for ensuring the logistic and administrative conditions for its operation.
The Legal Framework of Youth Associations, approved by Law no. 57/2019, of 7 August, defines student associations as those that represent students from the respective establishment of basic, secondary, higher or vocational education.
Sub-section III of Law no. 57/2019 focuses specifically on the legal framework of higher education associations and federations, recognising their right to participate in consultative bodies at a national level, with responsibilities on the definition and planning of the educational system, and to be consulted, issuing opinions about the management of schools, particularly in matters related to the planning of activities and budget, educational guidance and teaching methods, or study plans and assessment of knowledge systems.
Regarding the representative structures, higher education student associations are affiliated with each other in a very diversified manner, both geographically (local, regional or national) and in a typological way, depending on the fact of being a public university or foundation, polytechnic or a private or cooperative higher education institution.
Usually, each university or higher education institution has a students association that represents their interests before the governing body of the university or higher education institution. Some, however, are not restricted to a single educational establishment, such as, for instance, the Students Association of Coimbra.
The university or higher education associations may then affiliate between themselves, creating an Association of the University or of the Polytechnic, or they may even affiliate directly with a federation, which can be local (for example, Students Association of the University of Algarve), regional (as the Students Federation of Oporto), national, in a specific field of intervention (as, for instance, the Students Federation of University Sports) or encompassing a type of educational establishment (for instance, the National Federation of the Polytechnic Education Students Association).
At a national level, the various associations and federations constitute the students association movement, which meets up regularly in ENDA – National Association Boards Meeting. The ENDA is used for discussing and defining the position of the students association movement on various relevant issues about higher education.
The Associations Law, defined by Law no. 57/2019 of 7th August, presents in sub-section II the characteristics and the legal framework of basic and secondary education students associations.
The student unions are independent from the State, political parties, religious organisations or any others. They are free to draw up their respective rules and other internal regulations, to elect their governing bodies, to manage and administrate their assets and to create their activity plans. However, they are entitled to financial support, to be granted by the State, for the development of their pedagogical, cultural, social, and sports activities. Specifically, school associations of non-tertiary education have the right to monitor the activity of the management bodies and the school social support and to intervene in the organisation of extracurricular activities and school sports, as well as to collaborate in the management of areas for leisure and sports.
At a national level, the National Platform of Basic and Secondary Education Students Associations (FNAEBS) was created, whose main purpose is protecting the interests of students in primary and secondary schools throughout the country. What led to its creation was the fact that there is no permanent dialogue channel between students associations and the Government, particularly with the Ministry of Education, in order to present proposals and the demands of basic and secondary school students. The National Platform of Basic and Secondary Education Students Associations is a platform that represents students associations all over the country, having held the I National Meeting of Associations Boards of the Basic and Secondary Education, where the FNAEBS board was elected, in May 2017.