The Romanian youth foundations and their legal framework
In March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic was taking over, the Ministry of Youth and Sport launched a public consultation on a draft of an implementing regulation of Law no.146/2002, an overdue plan derived from the Government Emergency Ordinance undermining the integrity of the youth foundations by reinstating the demand that 3 out of 5 board members are named by the respective county councils. Simultaneously, a harmful legislative initiative was making its way through the parliament, intending to repeal the legal framework under which the foundations function and their subsequent dissolution. These two initiatives, received much attention from some students’ associations, which prompted a poorly researched and ill-intended crusade against FITT and the youth foundations.
FITT’s main objective was preserving the status quo in terms of the youth foundations’ legal framework, strongly believing that interfering with the board structure and taking the legacy away from the youth and into the hands of the county councils would certainly have critical consequences on both the foundations themselves, as well as the young local community that benefits from their activity.
What we do
The main strategic direction that FITT followed was debunking the claim which constituted the heart of the initiators’ reasoning: that the existing youth foundations do not undertake projects that are relevant for the young people in their areas. Therefore, FITT took on an “emulsifier” role, bringing together all county youth foundations under the umbrella of a website that transparently outlines their activity, as well as give information on their local members, their employees, partners and strategies.
Another popular argument among the supporters of the two proposals was the supposed misuse of the patrimony. FITT illustrated how assigning the patrimony into the administration of public authorities might in reality not be the much-praised solution some think it to be. On the contrary, experience has proven that some buildings and land belonging to the former communist youth which were given into the custody of the county councils have over the years turned into private businesses and shopping malls, aspect which had been conveniently left out of the public debate. This double-standard approach was called out by FITT in an open letter to the group of supporters, which emphasized the damage one-sided stories can cause if left unattended.
What have we achieved
FITT’s extensive network on both national and international level has been vital in creating public pressure on the ministry to prolong the duration of the consultation process, as well as create a working group to amply discuss and debate the context with the civil society, including those targeted directly by these proposed regulations, the foundations. The ministry’s inbox was flooded with letters from local, national, and international structures condemning their proposal.
The issue of the youth foundations’ legal framework is still ongoing, but we are hopeful that our cause is supported by hard facts and truths that are impossible to dispute. Despite the piles of research and frustrations behind this fight, there is a silver lining in the fact that it has for the first time brought all youth foundations together, a collaboation that might start a ripple effect to ultimately update the current legislation in the youth field, in line with current European principles.
When talking about the matter of Romania’s youth foundations and FITT’s recent battles to prove how beneficial they truly are for the local youth community, Mihai Vilcea, president of FITT and leader of the movement to empower youth foundations, says:
“It is inspiring to see that through the unceasing hard work of a few an otherwise harmful initiative can take on new valences and potentially influence young people for the better, by forcing an honest discussion about the entire existing patrimony, not only the part managed by NGOs, but also the one managed by the state. We hope that this will compel the state to assume responsibility for its past shortcomings and develop a strategy to rebuild and refurbish the patrimony that has fallen into disrepair, for youth’s benefit.”
The FITT team has gone through 30 years of history as part of the research carried out to understand the journey of youth foundations.
Written by FITT