Young Europeans Eager to Shape Future Through Civic Engagement Ahead of European Elections

Image Credit, John Mounsey

As the European elections draw near, a recent Eurobarometer survey sheds light on the proactive involvement of young people in civic and democratic affairs. Conducted between April 3 and April 12, 2024, the Flash Eurobarometer survey 545, titled ‘Youth and Democracy,’ interviewed 26,189 individuals aged 15 to 30 across the 27 Member States. The results provide valuable insights into the attitudes and actions of young Europeans regarding political participation and engagement.

According to the survey, an encouraging 64% of young respondents expressed their intention to vote in the upcoming elections, demonstrating a strong commitment to shaping the future of the European Union. This eagerness to participate reflects a growing awareness among youth of the significance of their voice in democratic processes. However, despite this positive trend, there remains a segment—comprising 19%—who express disinterest in politics, and 13% who lack interest in voting altogether.

Nevertheless, the survey unveils a vibrant culture of civic engagement among young Europeans. A significant majority—64%—indicated their participation in the activities of various organizations over the past year. Moreover, nearly half of the respondents (48%) reported taking tangible steps to effect societal change, such as signing petitions, joining rallies, or corresponding with politicians. Issues related to human rights, climate change, health, and equal rights emerged as focal points for youth activism, reflecting their commitment to addressing pressing global challenges.

Interestingly, the survey highlights the pivotal role of education in nurturing active citizenship among young people. A substantial majority—73%—felt that their education equipped them with digital literacy skills to combat misinformation, while 72% believed it instilled a sense of environmental responsibility. These findings underscore the importance of integrating civic education and critical thinking into curricula to empower future generations as informed and responsible citizens.

Moreover, the survey underscores young Europeans’ cosmopolitan outlook, with over 43% having engaged in activities in other EU countries, including studying, volunteering, or working. Awareness of programs like Erasmus+, which promotes cross-cultural exchange and mobility, is high, with 49% of respondents acknowledging its funding opportunities. Such experiences foster a sense of European identity and solidarity among youth, reinforcing the Union’s values of unity in diversity.

The European Commission’s commitment to youth empowerment is evident through initiatives like the appointment of an EU Youth Coordinator and the integration of a youth check in policymaking processes. Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner Iliana Ivanova have spearheaded dialogues on youth policy, emphasizing the importance of youth participation in democratic life.

In light of the survey findings, Vice-President Schinas remains optimistic about the potential for increased youth engagement in the upcoming elections, echoing the sentiment that young voters hold the key to shaping policies that impact their lives. Commissioner Ivanova stresses the need to reach out to disengaged youth and ensure their voices are heard in decision-making processes.

As Europe prepares for the elections from June 6 to June 9, the survey serves as a rallying call for greater youth involvement in democratic processes. With their energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to positive change, young Europeans stand poised to play a pivotal role in shaping a brighter future for the Union and its citizens.