5.4 Young people's participation in policy-making
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Formal Mechanisms of Consultation
According to the Youth Law, local authorities must consult with youth organisations in all meters of interest for the youth. However, when a consultative youth council is not organised, the obligation is considered met only by complying with the provisions of Law no. 52/2003.
Consultation of citizens on policy issues is implemented according to the Law no. 52/2003 on decision making transparency. The law provides for the publication of all normative decisions at local and central level for consultation for at least 10 days and the organisation of a public debate if a registered NGO is asking for the debate.
At national level, the National Council for Youth (NCFY) was established in 2020, including the most active youth NGOs. The Council had meetings organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2020 and 2021. The council has special committees on specific policy fields, as employment, education or culture.
Levels of consultation
For the Ministry responsible of youth and for some local authorities the creation of the consultative youth councils (under different names) is the most important formal mechanism of consultation used but no guidelines on how to organise and structure the consultation at the regional or local level had been put in place.
The most important consultation method used is the face-to-face or online (since 2020) meeting. Both the meetings of the National Council for Youth (NCFY) and the debates organised according to law no. 52/2003 on decisional transparency are meetings organised at the premises of the central institutions initiating them or, since 2020, online meetings using different communication channels.
According to law 52/2003 on decisional transparency, before organising a public debate, a national or local authority has to receive suggestions and comments on draft legislation proposals. Suggestions and comments are received by e-mail.
Regularity of consultations
Consultations according to the Law no. 52/2003 on decision making transparency are organised every time a new regulation (normative act) is initiated.
On the other hand, the frequency of the National Council for Youth (NCFY) is not regulated and no meeting was organised after August 2021. The Consultative Council on Youth Issues functioned since 2016 until 2019, but the frequency of meetings varied from one every month or two months (at national level), to once every three or six months. The same variation ca be noticed at local level, depending on the local regulations.
Generally, participation in the Consultative Council on Youth Issues has opened to all organisations showing an interest in youth issues at national, between 2016 and 2019. Since 2020, when the National Council for Youth (NCFY) has been established, 50 representatives of youth organisations or groups have been selected, based on a transparent process for the council.
According to the Ministry Order, members of the National Council For Youth (NCFY) are the representatives of:
- NGOs with legal personality and established at national level
- students’ federations
- trade unions for youth
- employers’ organisations for youth
- county youth foundations and the National Youth Foundation
- country youth federations
- The National School Students Council
- youth centres with the Council of Europe Quality Label
- UN youth delegates
- informal youth groups nominating representatives during the selection process
The key public authority represented in youth consultation processes was the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Some local authorities and some County Offices for Sports and Youth (subordinated to the Ministry) were also present in the consultations, as they created consultative youth councils. However, this is not an obligation.
After the establishment of the Ministry of Family, Youth and Equal Opportunities in January 2022 and the establishment of the Country Offices for Family and Youth in February 2022, the place of the former Ministry of Youth and Sport and the County Offices for Sports and Youth in the consultation with the young people shall be taken by the new structures.
No information is available on top-level authorities involved in consultation of particular youth groups, as young people with fewer opportunities or young people with a migrant background.
Information on the extent of youth participation
There is no authority monitoring the level of participation of young people to public consultation of any type described above and no data are available for the period before 2016. For 2016 the Ministry of Youth and Sports published on its website the reports of the Consultative Council on Youth Issues (CCYI) meetings. In average about 20 people representing youth NGOs and students organisations participated in the 6 meetings organised in 2016. In 2017-2019 the Ministry of Youth and Sports didn't published reports on the meetings of the CCYI. In 2019 only two meetings took place.
In 2020, the Council was reformed and transformed in the National Council for Youth (NCFY) with a determined number of 50 participants and sectoral committees. They participated to meetings in 2020 and 2021. No meeting was organised after August 2021.
Most often, young people and youth organisations have been consulted for feedback on the youth policy initiatives of the Ministry of Youth and Sport and Local and County Councils.
According to the Secretary of State for youth representing the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2016, M. Andrei Popescu, the main factors that contributed to the success of consultation processes is participating actors’ determination to have a constructive dialogue and to focus on results at policy level. Policy makers are usually expecting an input from young people organisations and representatives on the needs they want to be addressed and specific comments and suggestions on the proposed policy and legislative drafts put forward by the authorities.
The lack of monitoring and reporting on previous consultations is an obstacle on building further the cooperation of the responsible authorities with young people, as the consultation have been always started from the beginning and no progress was formally recorded over time.
Public availability of outcomes
After January 2016, the Ministry of Youth and Sport started publishing on its website the reports on meetings of the Consultative Council on Youth Issues, but the publication of these reports was not continued in 2017-2019.
Large-scale initiatives for dialogue or debate between public institutions and young people
In 2016 the Ministry of Youth and Sports implemented an online survey in order to establish preferences of young people regarding some provisions of the Youth Law.
Moreover, in 2016, the Ministry of Youth and Sports organised a youth workers network in order to organise consultations with young people within the framework of structured dialogue. About 120 youth workers organised 79 debates (using open space technology and the World Café method), with the participation of 1 537 young people, in order to determine Romanian youth position on the European Council priorities on youth and Romanian youth priorities for the moment when the country had the presidency of the European Council, in 2019.
This initiative was developed within a Structured Dialogue project funded by Erasmus Plus and, although was the largest initiative for dialogue or debate between public institutions and young people, it was developed outside the regular consultation mechanisms based on the activity of the Consultative Council on Youth Issues (CCYI) and the implementation of the procedure provided by the law no. 52/2003 on decisional transparency.
For the 6th cycle of the youth Structured Dialogue in Romania the report has been published in May 2018. The consultation process included a questionnaire and several workshops and it was implemented by the National Working Group supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. 2 976 young people have been consulted through the questionnaire and workshops. The majority of the participants in the consultation workshops and the respondents to the online questionnaire were students, so that the opinions of these categories of young people are found in the conclusions of this report. At the same time, it was noted that the young people with disabilities responded in a very small number to the online questionnaire and did not participate at all in the physical consultation workshops, these being the aspects that the National Working Group wants to improve in the future.
The same National Working Group has been responsible for the European Youth Dialogue in 2019 and the report published in December 2019. 1 942 young people have bee consulted through workshops and 2547 through the questionnaire.