Young Europeans think that belonging to the EU benefits them directly and are keen to learn other languages, explore other cultures, and have friends of other EU nationalities. These are just the first results of a study on "Youngsters and the EU - Perceptions, Knowledge and Expectations", which the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and its Diversity Europe Group presented at a major event in Brussels on 15 May 2019.
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, said the President of the EESC's Diversity Europe Group, Arno Metzler.
The study shows that young Europeans tend to consider that belonging to the EU benefits them personally. In addition, they are very conscious of the importance of learning other languages and learning about other cultures, and are open to having friends of other EU nationalities. They are curious to learn more about the EU and how the institutions function and see this as a necessary first step to getting more involved in the EU. However, they 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 the citizens should communicate the idea and the aims of Europe, added Mr Metzler.
Above all people in Brussels should use their position to explain Europe better.
The study was commissioned by the Diversity Europe Group and is a combination of desk research, a literature review and a survey. It aims to investigate how 14-18 year olds enrolled in schools perceive the EU, their knowledge on the EU, their expectations and how open they are to European diversity. The survey was conducted 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.
We need to capitalise on our young generations and listen to them, at both national and European level, concluded Mr Metzler.
This is the future. We should all take a chance to say 'I'm European', listen to the others and tell them what we are doing here to make our Union a better one.
For further information on the activities of the EESC Diversity Europe Group, please consult our website.