5.4 Young people's participation in policy-making
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The involvement of young people in Portugal's decision-making is mainly characterised by being:
- Consultative, in the sense that the contributions of young people, although often considered and incorporated in the decisions, are not binding;
- Representative, in the sense that the procedures for consultation take place mainly through youth representative organisations, from youth and student associations to platforms of youth organisations, or even local or national youth consultative councils.
Formal consultation mechanisms mainly take place in the advisory boards of the State’s different fields of public intervention. The participation of young people is concentrated in organisations related to the field of youth, sports, education, employment or health.
The consultation with young people, at a national level, takes place through the following mechanisms:
- Youth Advisory Council;
- IPDJ Advisory Council;
At the local and regional level through:
- Youth Municipal Councils;
- Regional Advisory Councils of the IPDJ;
The actors involved in the youth consultation process are diversified, encompassing governmental structures, youth and student organisations, or even civil society organisations that work with relevant issues and with an impact on young people.
- National Youth Council (CNJ), a right granted by the law that constitutes it, regarding elaboration of legislation and definition of policies that affect the young;
- National Federation of Youth Associations (FNAJ), direct consultation in several legislation processes, participation in the constitution of workgroups and others;
- Youth Associations – youth associations are involved in consultation processes, not only by intervening locally, in the implementation of projects, but also as youth representatives in dialogue with the political power, such as the Youth Municipal Councils, where all youth associations of a municipality enrolled in RNAJ have a seat;
- Student associations – the student associations, as well as their respective federations, have played a key role in youth consultation processes, especially in regard to educational policy and the defence of students' interests with policy-makers and with the administrative bodies of schools. Due to Law no. 57/2019 of 7th August, the students’ representatives have a seat on councils, as interlocutors.
Usually, the following public authorities launch youth consultation processes:
- Secretariat of State for Youth and Sports;
- IPDJ – Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth, PI;
- City Councils – the local government is a key actor in any process of youth consultation and has played a key part in stimulating structures for associations headed by young people, since they have a closer relation. Its active role is essential to the creation and promotion of municipal youth councils and it constitutes a privileged public space for youth participation, for the development and implementation of local youth policies.
The meetings of the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ) can include other elements justified by their agenda, even if they are not part of the CCJ’s composition. According to paragraph 2, of article 1st of Decree-Law no. 129/2015), the following individuals or entities can participate in the meetings, whenever convened by the president:
- Government members of specific sectors;
- Members of the regional governments of Madeira and the Azores;
- Movijovem — Youth Mobility, C.I.P.R.L.;
- National Agency for the Erasmus+ Youth in Action programme;
- Youth organisations at a national, regional and local level;
- Other entities developing a relevant action in the youth sector.
In addition to the above-mentioned key actors, there are also other ministries who promote comprehensive consultation and monitoring processes focused on the young public. Here are some examples:
- The Ministry of Education involves young people in policy consultation, monitoring and assessment, through the National Education Council;
- The Ministry of Health does the same, through the National Council for Drugs, Drug Addiction and the Harmful Use of Alcohol;
- And the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, through the Committee for the Coordination and Monitoring of the Youth Guarantee.
Considering the transversality and intersectorality of youth policies, in 2007, the Interministerial Commission for Youth Policies (CIJ) was establishes. This Commission was created by the Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 77/2007, of 4th June, with the purpose of ensuring the integrated operational coordination of youth policy in an interministerial and intergovernmental structure, which promotes the creation of integrated networks of information and services for young people, attracts financial means for the implementation of programmes, and stimulates a concerted and supplemental action of said structures. Although its operation period has been intermittent, not gathering in recent years, there is an intention of reactivating this commission, framed in the National Youth Plan approved in 2018.
To the National Youth Council (CNJ), as to the National Federation of Youth Associations (FNAJ), opinion requests are made about bills regarding youth associationism, the legal framework for holiday camps, the legal framework for the youth worker profile, programmes to support and promote youth employment, among other matters related to young people’s life.
The opinions expressed are discussed and taken into account in the final formulation of official documents.
Both the National Youth Council (CNJ) and the National Federation of Youth Associations (FNAJ) are involved in the activities of the IPDJ, I.P., often playing a preponderant role in the conception and implementation of those activities (e.g., Youth Associationism Day, International Youth Day, University on Youth Development, etc.).
The integration of young people's opinion in the formulation and assessment of political measures can be found in various processes. Here are some examples:
- The National Youth Plan was devised from a wide national listening process, on an online form, accessible to all young people, as well as from a national forum dedicated to the theme. The contributions were crucial for the preparation of the plan. The report of the listening process was made available online and outside the digital world in several forums.
- The current law in force concerning the legal framework on youth associativism (Law no. 57/2019) was also subject to an extensive consultation, discussion and negotiation process.
- The professional profile development of the youth worker and its respective RVCC were part of the contributions of several actors in this sector, namely their representative platforms;
- The Youth Pass was developed based on the work group of a number of actors, including youth representatives.
- The Formar+ programme was part of contributions resulting from a public sounding out process.
- The National Plan for Implementation of a Youth Guarantee has already been amended as a result of proposals made by the representation of youth interests in the Committee for the Coordination and Monitoring of the Youth Guarantee;
A wide consultation process was developed for the creation of the PNJ (National Youth Plan, approved in August 2018 and published on 4th of September — Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 114-A/2018). A diversified set of mechanisms was developed such as an online survey, development of focus groups, debate forums, in addition to the dissemination and collection of perspectives through formal bodies and channels.
The legal framework for Youth Associativism and its revision were also examples of issues subject to consultation and large-scale iniciatives for debate between public institutions and young people.