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Sweden is a parliamentary democracy, which means that all public power proceeds from the people. At the national level, the people are represented by the Riksdag (Swedish parliament) which has legislative power. The Government implements the Riksdag's decisions and draws up proposals for new laws or law amendments.
All government decisions are made jointly by the Government. The Prime Minister has the ultimate responsibility for Government policy coordination.
Since 2019, the Ministry of Culture is in charge of youth policy. The responsible minister is Ms. Amanda Lind, Minister for Culture and Democracy. The duration of the mandate is January 2019–September 2022.
Division for Civil Society and National Minorities in the Ministry of Culture
The Division for Civil Society and National Minorities is placed under the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry of Culture is responsible for preparing the parts of the central government budget concerning issues relating to culture, media, democracy, human rights at national level, the national minorities, sports and youth policy.
The task for the Division for Civil Society and National Minorities is to coordinate and develop youth policy issues, including the cross-sectoral youth policy objectives and follow-up of youth policy. The division is also responsible for the conditions and development of youth organisations. In addition, it is responsible for international cooperation on youth policy issues. The division is also responsible for the Swedish Agency for youth and civil society, MUCF.
The Swedish youth policy is multidisciplinary and deals with issues in areas such as education, employment, private economy, housing, health, participation, culture and leisure. The scope of the Swedish youth policy is more or less unchanged since 2004.
The main themes for the Swedish youth policy according to the Government Communication 2021 (Ungdomspolitisk skrivelse Skr 2020/21:105) are:
- increasing young people's mental health
- giving access to meaningful leisure time activities for all young people
- involving all young people in societal issues
- young people's social inclusion and entry into the labour market.
Besides the four priorities where a multisectoral approach is necessary, the Government Communication includes an action programme with 100 efforts within the priority areas that deserve a particular attention.
These efforts target human rights, including gender equality, counteracting honour-related violence and oppression, the rights of young LGBTI-people and efforts to reduce the number of young people who neither work nor study, just to give a few examples. Here the Government has identified a need for sector-specific actions that even need to be directed to both young people themselves and to civil society organisations.
The government guidelines for youth policy are not limited to government decisions and actions, but should be taken into account in all public activities involving young people. They are though not mandatory for municipalities and regions/county councils, due to the extensive municipal autonomy in Sweden.
According to the youth policy bill from 2014, all public activities involving or addressing young people should:
- have a youth perspective
- be based on knowledge of young people's conditions and needs
- have access to knowledge of such initiatives and methods that can improve young people's living conditions
- be coordinated between relevant sectors.
Specific target groups
Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) is a priority group within the Government’s youth policy initiatives. Among the initiatives, efforts to prevent early school leaving and the 90-day guarantee for young people (which limits the period of unemployment to 90 days before efforts that lead to a job or an education are to be introduced) can be mentioned.
Other groups that are specifically targeted are young newly arrived, young people with immigrant background, young people in national minorities, young LGBTI people and young people with disabilities.
Initiatives focusing on better knowledge and addressing social inclusion in terms of participation, employment, mental health, discrimination, violence prevention and better access to leisure activities often target the above mentioned groups.
A brief history
- 1959: The National Youth Council (Statens ungdomsråd) was established, with the main task of distributing government grants to youth organisations.
- 1976: The National Youth Council was transformed into a government agency, with a new mission of developing and disseminating knowledge on young people's leisure time added to the previous task.
- 1994: The council's name was changed to Swedish National Youth Board (Ungdomsstyrelsen). A new responsibility of implementing government's youth policy, together with developing and disseminating knowledge of young people's living conditions was added to the previous tasks.
- 2014: The board's name was changed to Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society (Myndigheten för ungdoms- och civilsamhällesfrågor, MUCF), due to new responsibilities concerning civil society policies.
- 2019: the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society was relocated from Stockholm to Växjö.
Role and responsibilities for the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society
The Swedish Agency for youth and civil society is a government agency for matters relating to youth policy and civil society. The agency has approximately 90 employees.
The Government decides on the preconditions for the agency's operations. This is implemented by annual appropriation directives and an ordinance. The appropriation directives set out, among other things, how much money the agency has at its disposal and how the money is to be distributed between the different activities. The ordinance contains general administrative provisions concerning how the agency is to carry out its work.
The agency shall, according to its ordinance, work to ensure that the objectives of youth policy and of civil society policy will be achieved by:
- presenting, gathering and disseminating knowledge,
- contributing to the coordination of government efforts concerning youth policy,
- cooperating with government authorities, municipalities, county councils and civil society organisations, and
- distributing state grants to civil society organisations.
The more specific duties of the agency are:
- contributing to young people's transition from school to work and their integration into society
- ensuring that young people have meaningful and developing leisure activities
- promoting the integration of the youth perspective into government agencies
- supporting knowledge-based youth policy in municipalities and regions
- following up and analyzing young people's living conditions, attitudes and values
- being national agency for EU programmes in the field of youth and national correspondent for the EU Youth Wiki tool.
In its activities, the agency shall promote equal rights and opportunities for young people irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. The agency shall promote gender mainstreaming and counteract discrimination on the grounds of gender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation or age.
In addition to the ordinance, annual appropriations directives contain special missions to the agency.
Budget for the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society
Of the year 2021 total budget for the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society, 5.3 million euros (53 million Swedish kronor) was ear-marked for youth policy and 1.5 million euros (15.3 million Swedish kronor) for civil society policy. Above that, 28.4 million euros (284 million Swedish kronor) was targeted to national and international youth activities. See section 1.7 Funding youth policy for more information.
Policy monitoring and evaluation
The current youth policy monitoring system is mainly based on the model presented in the 2004 Youth Policy Bill, with only minor changes in the 2014 Youth Policy Bill. The system is based on indicators of young people's living conditions, on annual thematic in-depth analyzes on young people's living conditions and on periodic studies on young people's attitudes and values. The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society (MUCF) is responsible for conducting the studies that are included in the youth policy follow-up.
The 2014 Youth Policy Bill also pointed out that young people and youth organisations shall be empowered in the process of monitoring youth policies. The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society has presented a plan for 2015–2017, where different forms for consultations with young people and youth organisations are planned for the annual reports that are a part of the monitoring system.
When monitoring young people's living conditions, statistics should be presented, commented and analysed by sex and age unless there are special reasons for this. Moreover, policy proposals targeting young people should include a consequence analysis, where young people's age and sex are taken into account.
The national youth policy monitoring system is evaluated regularly, before a revision takes place. The latest evaluation is from 2010, when the Swedish Agency for public management (Statskontoret) got the government task to evaluate the monitoring system of the national youth policy. According to the final report 'A more effective monitoring system for the national youth policy' (Ett effektivare uppföljningssystem för den nationella ungdomspolitiken), the monitoring system did not supply enough relevant knowledge and analysis, and did not reach out to local governments in an adequate manner. The 2014 revised youth policy bill proposed changes aimed for addressing these problems.
In 2021, the Agency for public management got a new assignment to evaluate the monitoring system of the national youth policy. The assignment must be reported to the government (Ministry of Culture) no later than March 2022.