- Young people between 16 and 26 name “asylum and migration” as the EU’s key political problem, followed by environmental protection and economic policy
- They want stronger European integration, but do not believe it will succeed
- Young adults believe they are better represented in national parliaments than in the European Parliament – European elections are “second-order elections”
- “Young Europe 2019” was carried out by YouGov as an online survey in eleven European countries (Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, the United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Spain), polling 8,220 young people aged between 16 and 26
Young Europeans do not consider themselves to be adequately represented in the European Parliament, regard the European elections as second-order elections – and yet, support the European idea. “In all EU countries surveyed, at least 60 per cent of the 16- to 26-year-olds would opt to remain if a referendum on leaving the EU were to be held, with Spain ranking top at 79 per cent. Young Europeans manifest particularly strong pro-European views. This positive fundamental attitude is encouraging. It should inspire us to intensify dialogue with young Europeans, take their questions, concerns and criticism seriously. This may help to convert support into enthusiasm for Europe," said Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the TUI Foundation. With a view to the next legislative period of the European Parliament, young people from ten EU countries and Norway have named environmental policy as one of the most important challenges to be solved within the EU. The topic came in second, with migration and asylum even more important for them and economic and financial policy in third place. In their view, the environment is a topic for the future. “Young people see climate protection as an opportunity rather than a threat," explains Ellerbeck.
Pro-European views have increased steadily since 2017 and remain strong this year. In 2019, support for the EU ranges from 61 per cent in Italy and Sweden to 79 per cent in Spain. In the UK, Greece and Poland, support for EU membership has continually grown since 2017. In France, Spain and Italy, by contrast, support for EU membership declined from its record level observed in 2018. The same trend was also observed in Germany: The proportion of young respondents advocating EU membership grew from 69 per cent in 2017 to 80 per cent in 2018 and declined to 74 per cent in 2019.
“As the results show, support for Europe cannot be taken for granted and the importance of Europe needs to be continually explained. Politicians and EU officials should realise and respect that phenomenon. The needs of young people have to be more successfully integrated into the political agenda,” said Elke Hlawatschek, Managing Director TUI Foundation, at the presentation of the results in Berlin.