Youth study: Europe on the rise, democracy under pressure

Europe is experiencing a revival among its younger citizens according to a study of European youth commissioned by the TUI Foundation in 2018. More than 6,000 young people in seven EU Member States participated in the survey. However, populist attitudes are evident.

»Europe is experiencing a comeback among younger people. We’re talking about strengths, opportunities and achievements again. In a world where there is a lot of unrest, where isolationism rather than cooperation is propagated as a solution, Europe is getting a new profile and we’re having genuine debates again that are reinforcing positive attitudes about the EU.«

Thomas Ellerbeck, Member of the TUI Group Executive Committee and Chairman of the  TUI Care Foundation’s Board of Trustees

If a referendum were to be held tomorrow on leaving the EU, 71 percent of young Europeans would vote “no”. One year ago, only 61 percent would have voted against EU exit. It seems that the plethora of debates surrounding Brexit have put the issue of EU membership back on its citizens’ agenda. In almost all countries – especially the United Kingdom – a higher percentage of young citizens feel that they are also Europeans. The number of young people who are pro-Europe has increased by a total of seven percent.

On the other side of the coin, it’s concerning that only a minority of young people think that their country’s political system works. And there are widespread populist attitudes among the European youth. They were expressed in the study by statements such as “The people should be making key political decisions, not the politicians.” The survey revealed that seven percent of young people in Germany and up to 23 percent in Poland are demonstrating populist tendencies. They are extremely critical of the democratic system and fundamentally willing to discard basic democratic elements.

To safeguard Europe’s future, it is essential to understand the attitudes and everyday lives of Europe’s younger generation. TUI Foundation is contributing to this understanding through its projects and its study.