The young generation's view of the EU

The young generation's view of the EU

Engaging with youngsters is a challenge all institutions face today, whether it be politics, education, media or other. The “millennial” generation will, in the near future, be responsible for our continent so it is valuable to hear their voice. This is exactly what the “Generation What” project had in mind: This major survey which was launched in April 2016 portrayed 18-34 year olds in Europe using a large online questionnaire to which almost one million young people from 35 different territories replied.  A generation with an optimistic view of the future as it turned out – but let’s take a closer look at the results, especially with regard to the upcoming EU elections and the young generation’s view of the EU.

Results of the survey: 3 out of 4 young Europeans feel European

Many of the young generation have grown up with the spirit of an increasing European integration, but do they really feel European? According to the results of the survey, this is the case for 3 out of 4 young Europeans. The values and ideas that the young generation connects to the EU are first and foremost the common currency of the euro and the mobility in work, travel and study, but also the cultural diversity, bureaucracy, freedom and economic growth. More than a third of those surveyed regard Europe as a “necessary construction” and one fifth see it as “the only project for the future”, but for around 1 out of 5 it is just the name of a continent and nothing more.

The question arises as to whether the young generation has confidence in Europe and the results are mixed. While only 1 out of 14 is fully confident, almost 1 out of 6 is of the opposite opinion and does not trust Europe at all. So remain 4 out of 5 respondents who have more or less confidence in Europe.  When asked whether their country should stay in the EU, the vast majority agrees, but 14% are still in favour of leaving the EU. Finally, in the context of the upcoming elections, it is interesting to see how young Europeans feel about politics and in fact, 4 out of 5 have little or no confidence in politics.

As a result, the way young people see Europe is also influenced by the need for a stable foundation because optimism and support for Europe go hand in hand. The more young people feel insecure and therefore pessimistic, the more their attitude towards Europe is hostile. 

The detailed results of the survey can be found under the following link:

“The EU offers my generation a huge liberty to develop and shape our future.”

Let’s leave the word to a young future professional working in Europe describing her point of view on the EU and its importance for the young generation: “For me, Europe means first and foremost mobility, especially in terms of travel and study. The EU has made it possible for me to study in an international environment and thus "look beyond my own nose". My German-French studies, my Erasmus semester in Switzerland and my internship abroad in Brussels gave me the opportunity to gain valuable experience in a wide variety of cultures, to develop an intercultural understanding and an open-minded attitude. The EU offers my generation a huge liberty to develop and shape our future.

I could never imagine Europe without the EU because I have never known Europe without the EU. The EU is an enormous enrichment for all Europeans and unites people of different cultures through shared values. For this reason, I look optimistically to the future and hope that the feeling of solidarity within Europe will develop further in the future and that the member states will work together more intensively in the most diverse areas and make decisions together.” 

“Europe is the only project for the future.”

And what does the Head of Operation of “Eurochild”, a European association working with children and young people thinks of the EU? From her point of view, the EU creates a community based on basic democratic values and means above all cultural diversity, shared values and social security. It is therefore clear that the EU is perceived as the only project for the future. Due to the numerous activities of the organisation throughout Europe, she naturally feels first and foremost part of Europe. When asked how she feels about the size of the EU, she replies that in her opinion the EU is too small and should integrate more countries.