Giving young people a voice on Europe

Published: 8 November 2013 at 14:05

Anglia Ruskin project aims to discover views on EU policies and institutions

An ambitious project to discover young people’s views on the concept of Europe and the work of EU institutions is being launched by Anglia Ruskin University.

Youth Voice: Big EU debate will explore the priorities of 16-25 year-olds ahead of the 2014 European Parliament elections and any future referendum of the UK’s membership of the EU.

Using a combination of real-world and online approaches, the project will engage a section of the UK population which is seldom consulted on European affairs and which is less likely to consider how EU policies impact on their daily lives.

Youth Voice: Big EU debate is being organised by Anglia Ruskin in partnership with the Euclid Network, and is supported by UnLtd and the British Youth Council.

The official launch on Saturday, 9 November at Anglia Ruskin’s Chelmsford campus will see young people from youth groups from across the East of England attend a seminar to discuss and debate the EU.  Expert speakers include Filippo Addarii, Director of International Strategy at the Young Foundation, Chris Powers, President of Young European Movement, and Dr Craig Duckworth, an EU Economist at Anglia Ruskin.

The event will also feature the launch of a competition which will encourage young people to express their views on Europe by producing a two-minute video to address the question “How do you imagine Europe in 2050?”

The Youth Voice: Big EU debate project will also feature four pop-up workshops (in London, Glasgow, Manchester and Cardiff) and carry out a poll to identify the key issues related to Europe raised by young people.

The findings of the project will be presented to MEPs and key policymakers at an event at Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus on 25 April 2014.

Dr Darren Sharpe, from Anglia Ruskin’s Childhood & Youth Research Institute, said:

“The gap between citizens and the European Institutions is growing constantly.  Young people especially have a limited interest in EU affairs.
“This low level of political engagement by citizens not only seriously affects the quality of the EU’s democratic life, but also means that citizens’ interests and views are likely to be under-represented in the decision-making process.
“This project aims to specifically mobilise young people in the UK and engage them in EU affairs by creating an understanding of how Europe influences their daily lives and by connecting them to policy-makers and politicians in Brussels, giving them a forum to voice their opinions and shape the Europe they want.”

Professor Alex Warleigh-Lack, Director of External Relations for the School of Politics, University of Surrey, said:

“What do young people in Britain think about their fellow Europeans?
“What makes Europe – and European integration – connect with young people, fire their imaginations and want to take part in the process? Can anything? Should anything?  This innovative and unusual research project will shed light on these matters.”