Young Europeans are increasingly engaged in society

Eurobarometer on the European Year of Youth

With the European Year of Youth in full swing, and at the end of the Conference on the future of Europe where youth played a crucial part, the latest flash Eurobarometer survey on Youth and Democracy, has been published at an opportune time to take stock of the sentiment among the young generation.

The Flash Eurobarometer survey 502 “Youth and Democracy in the European Year of Youth” shows growing youth engagement, with a majority (58%) of young people saying they are active in the societies they live in and have participated in one or more youth organisations over the last 12 months. This is an increase of 17 percentage points since a similar Eurobarometer in 2019. Notably however, a lack of time is the main reason for not participating in a youth organisations or youth activities in most countries, especially in the case of Malta, which had the highest share of respondents (50%) stating this as their main reason.

Young people see mental and physical health and wellbeing (34%), protecting the environment and fighting climate change (34%) but also education and training, including the free movement of learners (33%) as the focus areas for the European Year of Youth. For Maltese youths, the key themes that were mentioned generally correspond to the EU average, with the exceptions of the improvement of mental and physical health and wellbeing (55%) and protection of the environment and fighting climate change (52%), with percentages well above the EU average.

In addition, young people's most common expectation for the 2022 European Year of Youth is for decision-makers to listen more to their demands and act on them, and to support their personal, social and professional development (72%). With 41% of respondents agreeing, Maltese youths would mostly like that society and decision-makers to listen more to their opinions and needs.

Moreover, Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has reinforced young people's conviction that preserving peace, reinforcing international security and promoting international cooperation is the very first objective of the EU (37%). The next highest expectations are for the EU to increase job opportunities for young people (33%), fight poverty and economic and social inequalities (32%) as well as to promote environmentally friendly policies and fight climate change (31%). Maltese youths also agree with these expectations, even exceeding the EU average of respondents’ sentiment in each of these areas.

Despite the pandemic, the survey shows an increase in transnational youth mobility compared to 2019, reflecting the strong willingness to re-connect between young people across borders. About four in ten young people (39%) have participated in a professional, volunteering, learning or sporting activity in another EU country, compared to just over three in ten (31%) in 2019. In Malta, along with Cyprus and Estonia, the proportion who have participated in a study, training or an apprenticeship in another EU country is above one in five (21%-22%). However, throughout the EU, the lack of financial means remains a key reason for non-participation in mobility projects, although the financial obstacle is declining (36% compared to 42% in 2019).

Finally, Eurobarometer results confirm that the Erasmus+ programme, which celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2022, is known by more than half of young respondents although some differences remain between Member States with the share of young people knowing Erasmus+ for students being largest in Greece (72%) and smallest in Sweden (26%), with a very large percentage of Maltese respondents (69%) having also heard of this EU-funded opportunity.

For the full results of this Flash Eurobarometer Survey click here.