Millennials and the Political Role of the EU

The European elections, the formation of Europe and how young people perceive and face these matters, is the main subject of a study endorsed by Vinces, an independent consultant specializing in Public Affairs, presented just a few days ago in Madrid. The preparation of the report “The European Elections from a Millennial Perspective” has required analyzing the Millenial generational profile, one very much conditioned by the socioeconomic context in which they have grown up in which has no doubt impacted their political approach.

Among the main characteristics outlined in the conclusions of the study is the eminent digital immersion of the millennial generation, which makes the Internet their favorite tool to obtain information and act politically. They are, in addition, “the generation with the highest levels of education in history, among other things, because many millennials chose to remain as students due to the impossibility of finding jobs during the financial crisis”.

Likewise, and according to the report, they are “distrustful” of political promises and tend not to put faith in the current arrangement of political parties, something that, however, is in stark contrast to their great involvement in civil society. Given that the economic crisis of recent years has impacted them severely regarding job opportunities for young people, they have favored delaying certain social conventions such as getting married or buying a house.

As the report points out, millennials “they’ve grown up taking globalization and the free movement of people in the EU for granted, which makes them instinctively internationalists.” In this sense, they are pro-European, although many of them are not aware of the rights and guarantees inherent as EU members and citizens.”  The latter is a contributing factor to the high degree of abstention recorded among this generation in European elections.  Their lack of knowledge of how the European Union works and the implications of voting or abstaining have generally led them to not go to the polls.  As with all groups, there are always outliers, in this case a small group of young people who are immersed in political life or directly question the EU, staying informed about key issues such as the Brexit phenomenon.

The study includes a section where it considers essential that a rapprochement be made from the European institutions towards priorities and aspirations millenials identify as fundamental policies to be developed in the incoming legislature.  This way, it will be possible to ensure that the EU stays in touch with this generation. Four priorities are laid out by Vinces:

The fight against unemployment and the improvement of working conditions. 78% of young Europeans are concerned about youth unemployment.

The fight against climate change. No less than 77% of millennials believe that the European Union is not doing enough in the fight against climate change. This generation demands that real policies be put in place that goes beyond simple gestures.

-Management of the migrant crisis. Young Europeans consider EU policy in this area unsatisfactory, although there is no unanimity among them when it comes to finding solutions.

-Improvement of European security and defense. Although it is a controversial measure, most millennials are in favor of creating an EU security corps.