Youth consider EU as only ‘moderately effective’ in tackling major challenges

Written by Martin Banks on 20 May 2019 in News

A new survey says the EU is often perceived by young people as only “moderately effective” in tackling global challenges such as climate change or terrorism.

Photo credit: Press Association

The survey said climate change is high among the goals that young people think the EU should be pursuing.

The findings come just ahead of the keenly-awaited European elections, from 23-26 May, which many see as a key test for the EU.

Respondents also felt they do not have adequate opportunities to acquire knowledge about the EU at school and have at best only an average understanding of how its institutions function, including in the European schools.


These are among some of the findings of a study of 14-18 year olds entitled "Youngsters and the EU - Perceptions, Knowledge and Expectations" conducted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

The message, according to the EESC, is that “people in Brussels should use their position to explain Europe better.”

Presenting the results of the study, the EESC said that young Europeans think that belonging to the EU benefits them directly and they are keen to learn other languages, explore other cultures and have friends of other EU nationalities.

“This study is very important and confirms that young European people like the EU and they are willing to know more about the EU” Arno Metzler, President of the EESC's Diversity Europe Group

President of the EESC's Diversity Europe Group, Arno Metzler, said, “This study is very important and confirms that young European people like the EU and they are willing to know more about the EU, on top of taking advantage of the full range of benefits that our Union offers.”

Metzler added, however, that young Europeans “tend to think that the EU does not listen enough to their opinions face to face.”

“To tackle this, it is essential to build a new European citizenship as a way to engage with people and enrich them. We should develop new educational tools with regard to the EU, for example by developing a European learning platform or introducing a specific subject in schools to explain what the EU institutions do on a daily basis.”

“We want to make the European community more active. Civil society organisations and citizens should communicate the idea and the aims of Europe,” Metzler said.

The study was commissioned by the EESC’s Diversity Europe Group among pupils in the European schools in Brussels as well as in schools in France, Germany, Italy, Romania and Sweden.

Recommendations from the study will be sent to the next European Commission.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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