Half of Europe’s young adults (16-26) believe democracy is not necessarily the best form of government. 20% thinks their country should leave the EU.
The YouGov study commissioned by the TUI foundation engaged 6,000 young Europeans in seven countries, including Greece, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, and the U.K. 52% of Europe’s youth see before them a negative future, 32% experience their current financial situation as rather poor, and only 26% expects to have the living standards of their parent’s generation.
And they don’t trust in Europe or democracy to guarantee a better future.
The youth surveyed is pessimistic about the future and fears globalization. And 76% of young adults believe the EU is primarilyan economic alliance and less than 30% see it primarily as a community of values.
At the launch of the study in Berlin on Thursday, Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the TUI Foundation commented as follows: “The value-based European cohesive forces have for a long time been taken for granted. The European Youth Study shows that this apparently self-evident condition no longer applies.”
31% of Greek youth favour leaving the EU, followed by Poles and French (20%) and only 12% in Spain and Germany. In fact, 60% of Greeks youth would like to see the repatriation of some power to the nation-stae. That is even more than the U.K, where only 44% a return to national politics. German youth remains keen to maintain authority in Brussels, with only 22% speaking a need for less Europe.
The main criticism against the EU is the absence of concrete and meaningful possibility for political participation. Europe is seen as an administrative apparatus where nothing can change, while 37% of respondents had grievances with specific policies. More than one in four young adults (27%) have a problem with the institutional structure of the EU (27%).
Barely 18% of European youth believe they share common cultural traits, while only 7% speak of Christianity as their common heritage.
Without confidence in democracy
When it comes to democracy, only 52% of Europe’s youth regard it as the best form of governance.
The most fervent supporters of democracy are Greeks (66%), followed by Germans (62%). Polish and French youth is the least impressed by democracy, with 42% less than convinced with its effectiveness. Italy follows with 45%.
It should be noted that the surge of populist movements in France, Italy, Poland, Germany, and Greece resonates with the idea that democracy fails to deliver substantive choice and hope.