Youth Participation in the European Union: together we can make a real difference

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A silhouette of a person casting a vote

Europe is our home and it’s our duty to keep it up. However, only 42.54% of Europeans voted in the 2014 elections for the European Parliament. Those were the elections with the least participation since they are held.

Actually, it seems to me, that many young people feel the EU is very distant. Many people don´t understand the importance of the European Union in our daily lives although many laws are based on what the European Union decides.

It seems to me, that many young people feel the EU is very distant. Many people don´t understand the importance of the European Union in our daily lives... 

I’m a European citizen and for a while I have been interested in Europe and how it develops itself. I have participated in debates and Summits about the challenges that we are facing and I got involved in different projects about international politics and the EU. Besides that, programmes like Erasmus or opportunities for training in the EU institutions are very important for each European.

The EU has huge importance in the world: on commercial issues, defending and promoting human rights, and building a better world. We are more than a nation. We are a Union and we have to fight for our rights because together we can go further.

I experience Europe not only when I’m in Portugal but also when I travel through European countries, using my Identity Card, paying for expenses with the same currency, having a feeling of “belonging” as a member of this wide space without borders.

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A group of young people making peace signs with their hands

On the issue of the EU feeling far away from young people, how can we change this relationship? First of all, I think that it is important to teach, in schools and high schools, how relevant the EU is in our lives. We should discuss more about Europe and the way it operates.

Initiatives like “this time I’m voting” or different activities provided by some European Associations help this approach and are noteworthy.

Besides that, I suggest that in every high school and university there should be simulations of the European Parliament performed with and for young people as if they were actually portraying the different political parties with seats in the Parliament and approving policies. At the same time, there should be simulations of the Council so that young people can really understand that there has to be a consensus and how the whole European political system works.

Finally, it would be important to promote the “European Brand”, which means to show, for example, in festivals or in other places, which young people attend that the European Union is present. A system of reusable glasses with the #ForEuropeForUs and the European Union’s flag in festivals would be a way to show that the EU is close to all of us and environmentally friendly.

The world around us feels more uncertain than ever. We are facing huge problems: lost democracies, populism, terrorism, racism, human trafficking, climate change. Is this the Europe we want to grow up in?

Europe needs to find its own way. At a political level, Europe needs to meet the reality of refugees and Brexit. In the United States, political leadership has never been so contested and criticized as it is today. It is necessary to reflect on the new paths of leadership, the present and future leaders need to understand the reality of the new world we live in, only this way will we be able to qualify for the enormous challenges we face.

That’s why we should vote. Not voting is like having a white page in the story of our lives and we don't want to be invisible. We have to stand for our rights and voting is our duty. The world around us feels more uncertain than ever. We are facing huge problems: lost democracies, populism, terrorism, racism, human trafficking, climate change. Is this the Europe we want to grow up in? We have to think global and together in Europe, we can lead the way.

Together, we can promote tolerance and equality, fight terrorism, reduce climate change and make borders safe.

Today cannot be repeated. Act now.
 

Europe is our home. We all care for our homes, so let's care for Europe.


Sources: https://observador.pt/2014/08/05/abstencao-nas-europeias-de-2014-foi-maior-de-sempre-apesar-dos-primeiros-numeros-terem-mostrado-o-contrario/
 

My name is Sofia Pais and I'm a 20-year-old student from Portugal. As I'm studying law, I love a good debate and stating my arguments. I believe that the world is facing many problems and everybody is worried, and these concerns led me to write my statement.

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