Enthusiasm for Europe? Results from the Young Europe study

Brussels, 29/01/2020 – TUI Group’s Corporate Office hosted a Policy Breakfast on TUI Foundation’s annual “Young Europe” study. An interested audience coming from the European institutions, think tanks, tourism professionals and industry representatives gathered in TUI’s Brussels office to discuss key results from the 2019 edition of the study, followed by a debate on how the young generation’s trust in European institutions can be improved.

TUI Foundation: Educating young people on Europe

The event was opened by Elke Hlawatschek, Managing Director of TUI Foundation. She briefly introduced the TUI Foundation and its mission to encourage young people to engage with Europe and the EU. In addition, she also presented two more projects of the organisation. The first one focusing on disadvantaged young people giving them an understanding for the EU. And the second, where young multipliers developed a Charter for Europe and a Graphic Novel about it.

Majority in favour of EU membership

Ms Hlawatschek was then followed by Marcus Spittler, Research Fellow at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, who supports the foundation with the design and interpretation of the study. He highlighted that young Europeans generally consider national elections to be more important than the European elections. One reason could be that they feel better represented in their national parliaments and that they perceive their interests to be taken more seriously on a national than on a European level.

Nevertheless, Mr Spittler emphasised that young people describe themselves more often as European citizens than other age groups. The study found that a majority of the respondents are in favour of their country’s EU membership and embrace most of the benefits offered by it. Unlike an often cited prejudice that young people have little interest in politics, the study revealed that a great number of young Europeans are actually interested and participate actively in political topics – both online and offline. Topics such as environmental policy, gender equality as well as migration and asylum are what moves them the most. Mr Spittler concluded his presentation with a clear message: “Young Europeans are concerned about their future. Anyone who takes them seriously will get them to the polls.”

European Green Deal: potential for more youth participation

Next, Alicia Homs Ginel, Member of the European Parliament and President of the Young European Socialists, took the floor. She spoke about the danger of lacking knowledge about the EU, especially with younger people, and its damaging effect on democracy. In particular, she emphasised the necessity to involve European citizens from an early stage, both from an educational perspective but also in terms of communication and the use of the right channels. In the end, Ms Homs Ginel gave a brief outlook on the European Green Deal and its potential to unite the European youth and to bring them to the political table.

Finally, Dr Ralf Pastleitner, TUI Group Director International Public Policy and EU Affairs and Head of the TUI Group Corporate Office in Brussels, opened the floor for the audience. During the debate, many interesting developments and issues were brought to the fore, including around the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe, and on how the EU can communicate on its climate plans in an effective way to young people. A core interest of the participants was also how educational institutions both on a European and a member state level can promote the European idea in a more comprehensive way, while at the same time activating younger generations to involve themselves more in the political debate.

This edition in the on-going series of Policy Breakfasts at the TUI Group Corporate Office in Brussels was successful in raising awareness for the interests and concerns of young Europeans, and provided an interesting debate on how this age group can be continuously enthused for the European project. TUI Group will continue its commitment to positively contribute to the European policy debate through the organisation of Policy Breakfasts and other events.