Case: In a certain provincial city, the youth council of the city convinced the mayor to submit a legislative initiative to establish youth councils for districts and neighborhoods in order to increase youth involvement in local affairs and civil society. It was argued that such youth councils would also help the functioning of the youth council of the city.
- Can the city council adopt a resolution to establish youth councils for districts and neighborhoods?
- If not, how can the youth council of the city better work on district and neighborhood issues?
The youth council of the city operates within the administrative area of the entire city, so it can deal with youth issues both in the case of “city-wide” and strictly district-wide matters. As we know, the establishment of a youth council for municipalities is the competence of the municipal council. As the municipal council is a public administration body, it must act in accordance with the principle of legality on the basis and within the limits of the law.
Therefore, in order to take authoritative action, the council must have a clear legal provision that obliges or authorizes it to act (issuing a legal act, decision, etc.). Although in the Act on Local Government the legislator granted the municipal council the competence to establish senior councils for local government units, in the case of youth councils, there is no such regulation, so it is not possible to establish such a body as a youth council for a local government unit. Such action would be illegal – the municipal council would grant itself a certain competence to act authoritatively (unknown to the Act).
Nevertheless, there are certain ways in which the youth council can direct its activities more towards local government unit issues.
Firstly, if the current number of members does not allow for effective monitoring of local municipal policies to a satisfactory extent, the number of members of the youth council can be increased. Such a change would of course have to occur through a change in the statute, and the provision itself would have to apply only from the next term of the youth council.
Secondly, the youth council can establish a problem-solving team that would cooperate with student self-governments or non-governmental organizations in youth policy matters at the local government unit level. Of course, the establishment of such a team would have to occur through a youth council resolution and have a legal basis in the statute.
Thirdly, according to Art. 5b sec. 7 of the Act on Local Government: “In matters concerning the municipality, the youth council of the municipality may direct inquiries or requests in the form of a resolution. The resolution should contain a brief presentation of the factual situation that is its subject and the questions arising from it. The head of the commune or a person appointed by him is obliged to provide a written answer, not later than within 30 days from the date of receipt of the resolution.” Therefore, the youth council can, in a resolution, turn to the mayor of the city, who will probably refer the matter to the district/neighborhood council or the appropriate official, with a question or request.