Case: A conflict has arisen between a youth council and the county authorities regarding the possible actions of the youth council. The youth council wanted to take a position in the form of a resolution in support of the local high school director, who is in conflict with the school’s governing body – the county, regarding the reduction of the number of first-year classes in his school. Local decision-makers have taken the position that the youth council can only perform tasks that are specified in its statute and in the law on county self-government. However, the youth council, considering the seriousness of the matter and the interests of young people, wants to express its position on this issue.
What to do in this situation?
IREPSO’s answer: It should be remembered that the youth council is a public administration body, so it must operate within the limits and on the basis of the law. One of the determinants of the existence of an organ is its tasks – in this case listed in Art. 3e paragraph 8 of the law on county self-government, in the wording: “The tasks of the youth council of the municipality include in particular:
- giving opinions on draft resolutions concerning young people;
- participation in the development of strategic documents for the municipality for the benefit of young people;
- monitoring the implementation of strategic documents for the municipality for the benefit of young people;
- taking actions for young people, in particular in the field of civic education, on the principles determined by the municipality council.”
The legislator here uses the expression “in particular” quite inaccurately (even twice), which could indicate that this is an open catalogue – meaning that the council can also carry out other actions unrelated to this field. This is not the case, as the MRM must operate within the limits and on the basis of the applicable law, and can therefore only perform tasks that are clearly specified in the laws. However, the second statement “in particular” provides an opportunity to specify other actions in the MRM statute by the municipal governing body (the council). Nonetheless, the council can only clarify and specify the tasks of the MRM in the form of the scope of actions taken for the benefit of young people (for example, it can clarify that one of the council’s tasks is to implement and create programs to support young people with disabilities). It cannot, however, restrict or expand in any way the tasks from points 1-3.
In this situation, there is another restriction. Namely, the council, by specifying the scope of “actions taken for the benefit of young people, particularly in the field of civic education,” is bound by the catalogue of the municipality’s own tasks (Article 4 of the Act on County Self-Government).
In summary, it can be stated that the tasks of the youth council are defined by the law. The decision-making body (county council) may specify them, but only in terms of actions for the benefit of young people. In addition, all county authorities cannot exceed their activity beyond that specified in the catalogue of their own tasks.
Therefore, local decision-makers have more reason. Although the legislator wanted to create an open catalogue of MRM tasks, he only partially succeeded and not necessarily in the correct range. The catalogue of actions may be expanded in the youth council statute, but only in terms of the scope of actions taken for the benefit of young people. It should be noted that the above problem concerns youth councils at all levels of local government.
It is recommended that the legislator change this situation by either expanding the catalogue of tasks of youth councils at all levels of local government or by including provisions in the law allowing the decision-making body to specify this catalogue exclusively in the youth council statute.