Case: In Niespornice [name changed], there was no youth council in the city until now. For a long time, an informal group called “Youth Reaction” has been advocating for its establishment. After long efforts, the group succeeded in bringing about the establishment of a youth council in the city (YCC) by the municipal council. None of the members of the “Youth Reaction” group obtained a mandate as a YCC councilor. This led to a boycott of the established youth council by the members of this group, and then to an internal division of its members. A former leader of the group, Artur Myśl, decided to establish a foundation called “Youth Council of Niespornice” and filed an application for its registration with the appropriate District Court. The remaining members, under the leadership of Mirosław Zbiorny, decided to establish an association called “Youth Council of Niespornice”. Considering that the municipal council has established its own youth council in Niespornice, there are currently three Youth Councils of Niespornice, which leads to disputes.
How to solve the following situation?
It should be noted that according to Article 58 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, everyone has the freedom of association. In the context of “association,” there will be many forms of engagement for various purposes, including civic purposes. In principle, such forms of activity are referred to as the “third sector” or “non-governmental organizations,” as they fill the space between the public sector (broadly understood authorities) and the private sector (commercial initiatives).
The most common forms of “association” will include:
- informal groups, which are loose and unformalized groups of people who act mostly for a purpose, but each member of the group takes action at their own risk and expense;
- associations, which are formalized groups of people, the regulations of which are covered by the Act of 7 April 1989 on Associations;
- foundations, which are, in simplified terms, legal persons established by the founder or founders to pursue specific goals (e.g. social goals). The actions of foundations are regulated by the Act of 6 April 1984 on Foundations.
Basically, the institutions of (i) the Youth City Council, (ii) associations, and (iii) foundations will be linked by the fact that each of these entities will operate based on a specific statute and that their actions may have a civic and social dimension.
It should be noted that the Youth City Council is a consultative body created solely by the municipal council, pursuant to Article 5b of the Act of 8 March 1990 on Local Government. The aforementioned article defines the way in which this body is created and operates. The only legal connection between the Youth City Council and the municipal council can be found in the specific catalogue of competences of the Youth City Council, which includes giving opinions on draft resolutions concerning young people, participating in the development of strategic documents for young people in the municipality, monitoring the implementation of strategic documents for young people in the municipality, and taking actions for young people, particularly in the area of civic education, according to the principles defined by the municipal council. Only such a council will have the right to make inquiries regarding matters concerning the municipality based on Article 5b(7) of the Act on Local Government.
Ignoring the issue of whether it is permissible to register an organization name that may mislead individuals and entities, including public administration bodies, it should be pointed out that the full names of the organizations presented in the case are:
- The Youth City Council Foundation of Niespornice,
- The Youth City Council Association of Niespornice,
- The Youth City Council of Niespornice.
Only the last entity will have the attribute of being a youth council of the municipality referred to in Article 5b of the Act on Local Government. However, this does not preclude its actions from being supported by representatives of non-governmental organizations (the third sector).