When young people are asked what they think are the best ways to take part in public life, the most popular answer is voting in European elections. Yet, worryingly, less than half of the young people eligible to vote in the 2014 European elections actually did so. How would you explain the low turnout? What would encourage more young people to feel involved enough to vote?


Young europeans have been betrayed by the rich. Growing disparities, proven by T. Piketty and others have led to concentration of capital in the hands of the few to the point last seen before WW I. The rich do work, but this labor is not fooling noone. We do not live in the meritocratic individualistic society, that the West is often portrayed to be. Social mobility has never been worse in the recent decades, and austerity policies are crucifing new generations to the benefit of the Troika and banks. Europe needs actual alternative, that will stop hollowing of the middle class and robbery of the poor. We need an honest paradigma of fiscal responsibility that starts with those, who accumulate the most. Only real economical alternative will bring people to voting booths.
Europe need a clear leader to be more popular and to help people get more interested. To tackle this I think we should create a European general election for the EU president. Then the different ministers from each EU countries will choose European ministers to create a European government to lead on specific areas like education, employment, energy, environment. This way Europe will have a single face and will make European issues more popular and will help the Europeans to understand better their union. This will also raise the turnout of European election, as parliamentary election are not as clear and interesting as presidential ones.
Seeing that what you do, what you vote has an impact. In my country (Spain) we're tired of seeing the same "dinosaurs" doind their thing, leaving aside what the public thinks. Classic-politicians laugh at the people who manifestate for their (human) rights. It doesn't affect their way of doing politics so after some time, people get tired of trying and just accept what the politicians do against their will. That may sound quite tragic and sad but it is the point of view of many young and adult people. If we could see that our protests, our votes in the elections and so on have an impact, we would feel more powered and we would like to participate in every ocassion we had. The politicians must stop being an elite, and start being an instrument of the citizens to change the world for the better.
To let them realize they are part of EU, part of history.
I think that the best way to get young people involved in political life is to understand what advantages they can get from it. Often european countries' media make Europe appear as something which taxes citizens and does nothing for them. In my opinion a better valorisation of what Europe does and offers to its citizens wold be a good way to improve either old and young people political involvment.
There is a link between an individual's perceived stake in society and their involvement in local elections. Home owners, the educated and those with stable jobs and income are most likely to vote, which goes a long way to explaining why youths in Europe appear apathetic and disenfranchised. Similarly, for young people to feel involved enough to vote and volunteer in Europe, they must feel that they have a stake in the European project. The trick is how to make young, socially immobile, apathetic Europeans feel involved in Europe if they cannot afford regular holidays! A lesson can be drawn from Erasmus, a successful programme that appeals directly to this demographic and provides them unique opportunities. Similarly, perhaps the many European volunteering initiatives could be grouped under a similar umbrella and introduced as a fixed part of High school or University. For example, many schools have a work experience week, where students work for free at local stores or companies. It is easy to envision the European volunteering opportunities being re-branded as work experience and made available to 16/17 year olds during this week, allowing them to live and "work" in Europe for a week or two. This helps the student feel involved in the European project from a young age without having to deviate from their normal life, ideal when trying to appeal to those who are not practiced at taking the initiative themselves.
Doing an Erasmus exchange year it is definitely and without hesitate the best way to make that young people become interested at least on the EU issues. With the Erasmus exchange program I had the chance to do an internship in Brussels in a law office specialized in EU affairs: living in Brussels, working in that office, attending to the EU main institutions conferences and meetings in Brussels it was for me the best way to start thinking in an EU level. Brussels it is particularly the best place to learn about Europe but the Erasmus itself involves people to international issues and that makes they are more interested on understanding how this conflicts started, and how institutions policies and people behavior can solve them. It doesn't matter if you go to France,Holland, Italy...every European country where you do your Erasmus will be the best place to start having an European and global vision that allows you thinking about the future of the EU, its members and its citizens. Given that we are all in this project, we need more young people to do an Erasmus and higher EU scholarship' amount for doing the Erasmus, because this is the best way to change young people vision about EU and Europe. While doing an Erasmus you travel around Europe, you learn about the history by visiting the main points and museums, about the culture and lifestyle. You meet people from around Europe and around the world, but mostly Europeans are doing this exchange year abroad. You exchange point of views, ways of thinking, and you talk with people that explain you the situation of their countries. That changes immediately your vision about politics, justice,society and human issues. You start thinking in a way in which Europe is inter-connected. In which your country decisions could have consecuences on all Europe and EU and vice versa. To sum up, if you go on an Erasmus you start thinking globally and European :as you change your vision of the world, you get inmediately more interested on European affairs, on the role that EU plays, you get involved and interested on the main conflicts that the EU have to deal with, and you are whiling to contribute to build a better future for Europe, you got involved in projects and start networking with people that is working on it. You have a vision, and an opinion, and that's under my point of view the first step young people have to take before voting on the EU, or participating in the public life. First of all they need to feel the EU, to get an European vision, to travel around Europe and meeting lots of people from around the continent and the world. Because EU it is not only about Europe, its role has something to do with many thirds countries from other continents, and with the people from around the world, so you also need to leave Europe, to get to understand even better the EU. Only open-minded people can be ready to consider the EU future, and to work for them. In the EU new projects and new ideas are increasingly on the agenda. EU it's a big project that needs prepared young people to work for it, with an abroad and international experience. If you increase the EU scholarships for the Erasmus exchange, work harder for motivate people to leave their countries, then you will get an EU with more young people involved and participing. A part from Erasmus, another idea I would propose it Is to promote to get first hand experience in the EU institutions by doing an internship there and give to the young people more information about how to apply for it. The idea of having create the EU narrative it seems already to me, a good idea itself to improve young people participation.
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I think there should be an easy and fun way for young people to get informed about current events in the European Union. We could establish a website where young people would be encouraged to participate in interesting debates concerning current events in EU. There should also be articles or videos provided for young people to read or watch and inform themselves on the matter so they can develop their opinion about the issue. The articles should be written in a readers-friendly style so that young people wouldn't have difficulties to understand them. Students should be introduced to the website by their schools and there also should be in-class debates about the EU. In this way, young people would have more knowledge about the EU's activities and would feel responsible to take action. If you don't know what is happening around you, you can't do anything about it.
Youth participation in civic life should be more than just voting in elections. Involve us in policy and decision making!