Case: In a certain municipality, the term of the youth council lasted for 2 years (from March 2020 to March 2022). However, in October 2021, 90% of the youth council members resigned due to completing their secondary education. The by-elections and swearing-in of new members lasted until the end of the year, so the new youth council members would only be in their positions for 3 months. Therefore, the municipality council would like to extend the term of the youth council by six months (until October 2022).
Can the municipality council change the statute regulations in this way?
The law does not explicitly regulate the permissibility of extending the term of the youth council. However, Article 5b (10) of the Act on Local Self-Government states that “the municipality council, when creating a youth council, grants it a statute specifying, in particular, the rules of operation of the youth council…”. The key here is the phrase “in particular,” which defines the list from the provision as open. Therefore, the municipality council, when granting a statute to the youth council, must define its necessary structural elements and the individual procedures within its activities. However, statutory regulations should not exceed the scope of “structure,” and cannot contradict statutory norms. Furthermore, the regulations in the statute cannot give the youth council new competencies. Therefore, the statute should only be based on the elements necessary for the functioning of the youth council within the statutory norm.
One of the necessary elements is defining the term of the council. Although it is known that the criterion of term is usually strictly regulated in the statute (e.g., “the term lasts for 2 years”), in exceptional, unexpected, and incidental cases, the term of the youth council may be extended based on an episodic provision. However, this should generally be avoided if it is not absolutely necessary, as in this case.
Therefore, the episodic provision in the form of extending the term of the current council until October 2023 is permissible but should only be adopted by the municipality council resolution. This provision, due to its episodic nature, should not be included in the statute of the youth council. Therefore, an incidental change in the length of the youth council term can be introduced by a separate municipality council resolution.