Italy

Youth policies in Italy are based on a bottom-up approach, a distinct feature of Italian youth legislation. Currently, 17 of the 20 Italian regions have adopted youth laws. In addition, the development of a national framework law on youth is under discussion.

Published on October 25, 2023
Updated on February 12, 2024

Definition of youth

There is not a universal definition of "youth" in Italy, as it varies according to the field of application.

The Department for Youth Policy and the Universal Civic Service (DPGSCU) targets their measures at the 14 to 28/35 age group, depending on the specific action. GIOVANI2030, the "digital home" for youth created by DPGSCU, is intended for those between the ages of 14 and 35.

Similarly, the 11 May 2022 Unified Conference Agreement on the Allocation of the National Fund for Youth Policies highlights that "the target group for the measures must be between 14 and 35 years old, with the exception of those relating to the Regional Youth Card."

Giovani.Stat, an information system that is part of the National Statistics Institute, considers young people to be the population between the ages of 15 and 34, with some "duly indicated exceptions."

Definition 1
14 - 28 years

Source: GIOVANI2030 2020

Definition 2
14 - 35 years

Voting Rights

Majority age
18 years
Voting age
18 years
Criminal responsibility
15 years

Candidacy age

Lower House
25 years
Upper House
40 years
President
--- (tbc)

Marriage & Gender

Without parental consent
Female
18 years
Male
18 years
With parental consent
Female
16 years
Male
16 years

Source: UNSD, UNDESA, ILGA

Is same-sex marriage legalized?
Female
Partly *
Male
Partly *
Are other genders recognised?
Yes
compulsory medical diagnosis

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Yes

Youth policies in Italy are based on a bottom-up approach, a distinct feature of Italian youth legislation, according to the EU Youth Wiki. The Youth Wiki highlights that currently 17 of the 20 Italian regions have adopted youth laws. In addition, the development of a national framework law on youth is under discussion.

A national youth policy framework is developed annually through the allocation of the National Fund for Youth Policies. Importantly, the fund distinguishes between "interventions of national importance" and "interventions of territorial relevance", which have a more regional or local focus. The yearly allocation process of the fund involves two main pieces of legislation:

  1. An agreement at the Unified Conference sets how the fund is distributed between the interventions of national importance and the interventions of territorial relevance, and outlines the priorities for the territorial interventions. The conference includes the national government, the regions, the autonomous provinces, the Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI), and the Union of Italian Provinces (UPI).
  2. A ministerial decree then confirms the share allocation agreed upon in the Unified Conference agreement and formulates the interventions of national importance.

In 2022, the Unified Conference Agreement of 11 May 2022 (Rep. Act n.77/CU) and the Ministerial Decree of 14 June 2022 allocated 51 percent of the fund to interventions of territorial relevance and 49 percent to interventions of national importance.

The EU Youth Wiki highlights that "the current youth strategy does not provide for the participation of young people in its formulation."

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority that is primarily responsible for youth?
Yes

According to the EU Youth Wiki, the "Prime Minister is the authority in charge of youth policies", but this responsibility may be delegated to a third party: currently the Minister for Sport and Youth. The minister oversees the Department for Youth Policy and the Universal Civic Service (DPGSCU), which carries out the implementation and coordination of youth policy.

The department's mandate includes the implementation of the youth strategy, the promotion of youth rights, the management and implementation of the Universal Civic Service programme, and representing Italy at the European and international level on youth policy matters.

The DPGSCU is divided into three general management-level offices, one of which is the Youth Policy Office. According to its website, this office evaluates and monitors youth policy, promotes the interest of young people, advocates for and supports youth work, and manages relations with the National Youth Council, among other mandates.

As mandated by law, the DPGSCU receives an annual General Directive for Administrative Action and Management (latest available from 2022) from the minister, which outlines the department's strategic and operational objectives on the basis of the resources allocated to it for the financial year.

Youth & Representation

Does the country have a national youth organization or association?
Yes

The National Youth Council (CNG) was established in 2019 by Law No. 145/2018 on the 2019 National Budget, thereby replacing the National Youth Forum (see Article 475).

According to its statutes, the National Youth Council is an independent and democratic association that promotes the rights and interests of young people vis-�-vis the government. The CNG strives to promote dialogue between institutions, youth organisations and young people, toassist in overcoming obstacles to young people's participation in democracy, and tofoster active citizenship of young people, among other objectives.

The CNG is required to submit a yearly programme report to the Department for Youth Policy and the Universal Civic Service (DPGSCU) to obtain funding. In the report for 2023-2025, the CNG outlined their top policy recommendations for this period, focusing on the following six thematic areas:

  1. Employment, training and social policies;
  2. Rights and gender policies;
  3. Citizenship and civil service;
  4. Culture, sports, legality, health;
  5. Environment and agriculture;
  6. European and international cooperation.

Youth work

Is youth work a formally recognised profession?
Unclear

The professional field of youth work is not formally recognised on a national level in Italy, but the situation is in flux. As highlighted in the Annual Activity Report 2019 of the National Agency for Youth (ANG), "the field of Youth Work is mostly left to decentralised regional and local legislation with few normative references in national legislative acts."

On a subnational level, the report notes that as of 2019, 18 regions recognise youth workers or related designations through laws, regulations or qualification schemes.

According to the EU Youth Wiki, a national law for the recognition of youth work and youth workers is "currently under discussion." In the context of the draft law, youth worker is translated as "socio-educational instructor for youth" (Animatore Socio-educativo per i Giovani). It was not possible to obtain a copy of the draft.

In 2021, the University of Suor Orsola Benincasa, in cooperation with the National Agency for Youth (ANG) and the Santobono-Pausilipon Foundation, launched the country's first Master's in Youth Work. However, it is unclear whether the programme is still running, as its website has not been updated since 2021.

Some regions have also taken the first steps towards the launch of professional training paths for youth workers. For example, the program "Next Generation Youth Worker" (2018) aims to create a space for comparison, exchange, reflection and planning for youth workers in the Tuscany region.

Budget & Spending

Does the national youth policy have a dedicated budget?
Yes

According to the Department for Youth Policy and the Universal Civic Service, government policies in support of youth have been funded by the National Fund for Youth Policies since 2006. The fund was established by Article 19, paragraph 2 of Legislative Decree 223/2006, which in turn was converted into law by Law No. 248/2006.

The fund's financing is ensured in the annual budget of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister). In the preliminary note to the 2022 budget, the fund was allocated EUR 85.86 million (USD 92.85 million) in 2022, plus an additional EUR 5 million (USD 5.41 million) for national activities in support of the European Year of the Youth.

According to the Ministerial Decree of 14 June 2022, the final amount available to the fund after a readjustment by the Budget and Accounting Office was EUR 83.71 million (USD 90.52 million).

In the overall national budget law of 2022, the sum for the National Fund for Youth Policies is included in programme area 30.2 - "Encouragement and support for youth".

According to the EU Youth Wiki, the National Youth Council (CNG) has been allocated EUR 1 million (USD 1.08 million) in public funding in 2023. This number could not be independently verified.

Contextual Figures

Liberal Democracy Index
844
Youth Progress Index
84.38

Economic Indicators

GDP per capita
$35770.05
Human Development Index
0.895
Gini coefficient
35.2

Additional background

From a 2023 Deutsche Welle article headlined "Italy slashes anti-poverty subsidies":

"Italy's right-wing government amended labor rights and subsidies on Monday, cutting down on anti-poverty subsidies introduced in 2019, saying they cost too much. The new program was announced on May 1, which is International Workers day. It coincided with nationwide demonstrations marking the day. The subsidies, dubbed 'citizens' income' would be replaced by 'inclusion checks' which largely exclude youth citizens. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's government said last year's subsidies were too costly, at around �8 billion ($8.8 billion), and that they discourage otherwise able-bodied citizens, mostly youths, from seeking employment."

"'We are reforming the citizens' income to make a distinction between those who are able to work and those who aren't,' Prime Minister Meloni, who heads Italy's most right wing government since World War II, said in a statement."

"Giuseppe Conte, former prime minister of the Five Star Movement which had introduced the more generous 'citizens' income' program, blasted the changes. 'A serious government does not meet on May 1 to condemn young people to a life of precariousness, destroying their dream of having a home or children,' he was quoted by the French AFP news agency as saying."

From a 2022 Green European Journal article headlined "No Country for Young People":

"The cost of living crisis follows the pandemic as another blow to young people and their living standards. In Italy, younger generations have been suffering from the effects of precarious work and falling economic prosperity for at least a decade. The result is widespread disillusionment, withdrawal from politics, and a vacuum that only the Right has so far been able to fill."

"'The fundamental problem is that there are no public welfare policies for young people,' adds Silvia Ciucciovino, a professor of labour law and advisor to the National Council of Economy and Labour. Social protection is targeted at older people and 'the welfare state does not address the social needs of young people and families.' An entire demographic is thus ignored by social security, deprived of the possibility of making plans at a cost to personal dignity and drive alike."

"Under-35s in Italy are living in bubbles of economic and job insecurity that can burst at any moment. Meloni's right-wing government appears uninterested in employment policies and the needs of young people, whose principal desire is to be able to express their identity and sense of self. Meanwhile, the cost of living is going up, and the gap between job insecurity and the right to housing is growing, leaving young people at the mercy of the future. With proposals lacking, the challenge for Italy's government and its opposition is to formulate credible and feasible long-term proposals to change a system that is becoming less and less sustainable."

Sources

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Updates

  • Update 22.06.2024: