Youth Regional Council in Alsace, France
ContextRegion Alsace has set up a Youth Regional Assembly called “Parlement Alsacien des Jeunes “ (PAJ), within the Framework of its Regional Project for Youth, adopted by the Plenary Session of the Alsace Regional Council in November 2010. The “Parlement Alsacien des Jeunes” is now running the second half of its second mandate.
MeasureAs third assembly of the region, the PAJ is an initiative of participatory democracy, consultation, reflection and action that enables young Alsacians to directly contribute – with an actual decisional power as regards some given topics – to the implementation, the follow up, the assessment and the enrichment of the Youth Regional Project and, more globally, of all policies affecting youth. In this context, it can be addressed for consultations by the President of the Regional Council and can submit its opinion on all topics of interest. The PAJ enables its members to co-organize and co-animate events, shows, meetings, reflections, etc. organized by the region or other partners (Council of Europe, Association of French Regions, local authorities, etc.) on different topics.
Target GroupThe PAJ brings together 40 members aged 15-28 ensuring a balance on gender, status of the members (high school students, trainees, university students, workers, unemployed, enrolled at the Mission locale), coming from urban and rural territories of the region in order to be as representative as possible of the Alsatian youth. To be noted: the members of the PAJ cannot have another mandate in order to provide with this opportunity only those who never had a representative role.
MethodologyThe identification and the appointment of the PAJ members follows, for each mandate, the following procedure:
- Call for proposals addressed to all educational institutions, Missions Locales, Cultural and Youth Centres, Socio-cultural centers, municipalities and associations. The call is also advertised through the website of the Region, the Youth Information Network, the Departments and other local authorities as well as through communication campaigns (posters, projection of advertisements at the cinemas of the region, press, radio and televisions at the regional and local level)
- Random draw of PAJ members among all candidacies received, put into categories in advance in order to ensure the representativeness of the different target groups outlined above.
StakeholdersThe PAJ is a cross-cutting project which involves several units of the Region. It is carried out by the Regional Agency for Youth, the members of which come from the different operational units of the Region that work in liaison on youth issues. The methodology is characterized by pragmatism and flexibility, which have allowed to involve all needed competencies within the framework of a shared dynamics.
AssessmentThe assessment of the first mandate of the PAJ (the second mandate is still running) stresses the interest and need of this measure of participatory democracy. The young accomplished their mission fully, by participating in reflections, works and in the making of decisions of their competence. A core group of around 25 young people has been active permanently until the very end of their mandate.
At the end of the first mandate, the expectations of elected members of the Regional Council and regional civil servants have increased in relation with the expertise of PAJ regarding some policies of the Community. For instance: policies on transport, pricing system, orientations, life conditions in high schools, ecological transition, cultural development.
The second mandate has contributed to promote a more direct interaction between the PAJ and the regional policies and projects. The PAJ has also widely contributed to several regional projects as, recently, the perspective process of “Alsace 2030”. It brings together all the stakeholders of the territory around a common objective: reflect upon the Alsace of tomorrow to promote policies and measures able to respond to the different territories’ needs. The PAJ has represented the Alsatian youth in the debates and discussions that took place for several months in the territory.
The PAJ also played a key role in the drafting of the Assembly of European Regions’ report on the “Involvement of young people in democratic life at regional level”. This report, that puts together good practices in European regions on how to best involve the youth in public life, will be shortly accompanied by a toolkit.
ImpactThe first mandate has clearly been for the members of the PAJ, no matter their age and background, an opportunity to be empowered, to foster their intellectual development and to be more responsible towards the community. The members themselves took the initiative to create the “Association of the old members of the PAJ” in order to pursue together, through other tools, their involvement in regional community life in Alsace.
This initiative has also been a key training opportunity for the members, therefore contributing to a more concrete involvement of the young in the policies and the public life of the region. The members of PAJ benefit, at the beginning of their mandate, of activities aimed at strengthening the bonds of the group as well as of trainings (presentation of local authorities and the institutional framework, of youth policies adopted in Alsace by local, regional and national authorities as well as trainings on empowerment, project management, assessment, etc.)