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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.6 Supporting youth organisations

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Legal/policy framework for the functioning and development of youth organisations
  2. Public financial support
  3. Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants

Legal/policy framework for the functioning and development of youth organisations

Law no. 23/2006 of 23rd of July, with the current wording of Law no. 57/2019 of 7th of August establishes the legal regime of youth organisations and it is the legal framework for the support to youth organisations.

The law is divided in nine chapters:

  • Chapter 1: General Provisions and Principles;
  • Chapter 2: Youth Organisations;
  • Chapter 3: Students Organisations;
  • Chapter 4: Rights and Obligations of Youth Organisations;
    • Section I – General Rights;
    • Section II – Rights of Students Associations;
      • Sub-section I – General Provisions;
      • Sub-section II – Students Associations from Basic and Secondary School;
      • Sub-section III – Students Associations from High School;
    • Section III - Obligations
  • Chapter 5: Youth Leader Statute;
  • Chapter 6: National Register of Youth Organisations;
  • Chapter 7: Support Programmes for Youth Organisations;
  • Chapter 8: Monitoring/Supervision;
  • Chapter 9: Final and Transitional Provisions.

The first part of the law aims to define what type of organisations are considered to be in the universe of youth organisations. It states that a youth organisation must have, at least, 80% of its members under the age of 30 (30 included), and also, at least, 80% young members (30 or under) in the executive board of the association.

The Law defines youth associations as non-profit organizations that, not fulfilling the requirements of youth associations, have in the last three years at least 50% of their activity directed exclusively to young people aged 30 or under and/or have as their social object the performance of activities primarily or exclusively aimed at young people, to be recognized by biennial order of the Government member responsible for the youth area.

The law also defines what a students' association is, establishing that it is that which represents the students of the respective establishment of primary, secondary, higher or vocational education.

A central piece of this legal framework is the National Register of Youth Organisations (RNAJ), where all of the above mentioned entities must be registered to be recognised in the youth sector. As such, being registered in RNAJ is essential to reach the support and rights granted by the legislation. 

The whole legislation regarding youth organizations has been reviewed and updated and as the revision of current wording known has Law no. 57/2019 of 7th of August was published, the regulation will soon be public, allowing its full implementation.

Public financial support

There are four kinds of support to youth organisations delivered by the IPDJ, which are granted through the Law on Youth Associationism: financial, logistic, technical and training. According to this law, the financial support is framed by three programmes, regulated by Decree-Law no. 1230/2006:

  • Youth Support Programme ( Programa de Apoio Juvenil – PAJ ): it aims to support the development of the activities of youth associations and informal groups of young people (as defined in the article 40, nr 1, a), Law 57/2019). It can be biennial, annual and a one-off;
  • Infrastructure Support Programme (Programa de Apoio Infra-Estrutural – PAI): support for investment in infrastructures, facilities and equipment for the development of activities of youth associations and similar organisations


Besides these three programmes, there is also the Training programme  (programa Formar+) . The Formar+ programme, regulated by Ordinance No. 382/2017 of 20th December, provides and promotes training support for young people, the associative movement and youth professionals, through four support measures.


Currently, there is also a line of financial support for the development of internships in youth organisations, as a measure to fight unemployment, promoting the reinforcement of youth organisations’ human resources (even if many of them are voluntarily driven), but also profiting from the competencies usually delivered to unemployed youngsters in the context of action of a youth organisation. It is the Incentive for the Development of Associativism programme (programa de Incentivo ao Desenvolvimento Associativo – IDA) created by Decree no. 155/2013 of 18th April and changed  by Decree no. 160/2019, 24th May.

These are dedicated programmes, that go deeply to the core of youth organisations’ basic needs. However, many other funds are available in programmes that correspond to Youth Organisations’ areas of action or interest. For instance, leisure times occupation, holiday camps, international work camps, volunteering programmes, and others areas where youth organisations can apply with supportable ideas and projects, apart from their regular activity plans. No duplicated financial support is authorized.

Apart from these programmes, the IPDJ has a programme called the House of Youth, in order for youth organisations to have a place to start its activities and gather its members.

The public support programmes for youth organisations, as a whole, have about 6 million euros available annually. There are over 1100 active youth organisations regularly registered and active in RNAJ.


Type of activities supported

The supported activities are very diverse, including culture (theatre, music, arts) environment, science, sports, political engagement and debate, youth empowerment, gender and minorities empowerment, multiculturalism, migrations and networking, entrepreneurship, socio-cultural animation, and so on. This means that it is possible for a youth organisation to receive support in almost every area of its own interest and motivation, as long as non-formal education methodologies and learning environments are applied, with restrictions regarding the type of budgetary items, levels of funding, obligation of co-funding and self-funding.


Other supports (not exclusive to youth organisations)

Despite not targeting youth organisations, it is worth mentioning that the High Commission for Migration (ACM, I.P.) has a Technical Support Office for Immigrant Associations that promotes recognition of immigrant associations and offers technical and financial support. Youth organisations, which are also immigrant associations, and recognised as such by the High Commission for Migration (ACM, I.P.), can apply for this support.

The support to immigrant associations is assigned through agreements between the associations and the High Commission for Migration (ACM, I.P.), based on projects submitted, aiming to contribute to the integration of immigrant citizens, by promoting their dignity and equal opportunities, among other purposes.

The National Roma Communities Integration Strategy Support Fund (FAPE) and the Roma Representative Associations Support Programme (PAAC), managed by the High Commission for Migration (ACM, I.P.), are also worth mentioning, since both target non-governmental organisations of disadvantaged communities in Portugal, which includes young people.


Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants

The inclusion of all young people in the IPDJ initiatives and programmes, with special attention to young people with fewer opportunities, is a permanent concern reflected in different actions that allow the participation of a diverse group of young people in youth organisations. The youth movement in Portugal is very rich as far as diversity is concerned, covering a large number of young people with different backgrounds and reflecting the diversity of Portuguese society. 

The listening processes have been trying to meet the pluralities of youths, wherefore, for example, in the National listening Forum for the National Youth Plan there was the specific intent to bring young representatives that identify themselves with or that belong to differentiated social groups, namely:

  •  youths from the countryside;
  •  youths that reside in the outermost regions of Madeira and Azores;
  •  representative youths from associations defenders of LGBTI+’s rights;
  •  young roma;
  •  young Afro-descendants and migrants in Portugal.