Initial findings from the EBU’s landmark Generation What Europe project have revealed that despite a sluggish economy, Brexit and the refugee crisis, most 18-34 year olds across Europe have a fundamentally positive outlook on life, the future and European politics. These preliminary results will be presented to the EU Council on Education, Youth, Culture and Sport on Monday 21 November in Brussels. MEPs share their reaction to the results in the video above.
18 EBU Members from 14 different countries have taken part in the project. Since its launch in April nearly a million young people have taken the 149 question survey focused on family, peers, self, society, the future, country and identity.
The results were examined by sociologists exploring the factors influencing optimism for the future among young people across Europe. Their analysis revealed that although young people hold extremely varied opinions about Europe, politics, the economy and their private lives, there are international criteria that have a significant effect on the degree of optimism of young Europeans:
The survey found optimism and support for Europe go hand in hand. The more young people feel insecure and therefore pessimistic, the more their attitude towards Europe is hostile. And pessimistic people are more inclined to support nationalistic ideologies. Moreover, they are more likely to approve Brexit-type scenarios. A positive attitude towards a unified Europe correlates with the level of optimism.
Generation What also discovered that school experiences also contribute to how optimistic European youth are throughout their lives. The stronger their belief that their country's education system provides them with a sufficient foundation for a successful start to their working lives and that access to education is fair, the more optimistically they consider their future prospects.
Throughout Europe the EBU’s survey reveals a person's level of satisfaction with their job correlates with the extent of their optimism, particularly the extent young people are appreciated and accepted by colleagues and bosses. The survey also found that school experiences contribute to how optimistic European youth are throughout their lives.
- Parents play a big role in the happiness of young people especially for respondents in Germany, Spain and Luxembourg. On the other hand, in Ireland and Wales, friends have a greater influence than family.
- Young people with a negative outlook, especially in Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, feel that previous generations have a great deal of responsibility for the problems of today.
- The widening gap between rich and poor has a negative influence on the optimism of the young participants in Austria, Luxembourg or Belgium.
- Unemployment is a cause for concern among young Czechs, French and Italians and therefore triggers pessimism. Migrant immigration is seen as intimidating in Austria, according to the results of the survey.
- A lack of confidence in politicians leads to more extreme pessimism in some countries than in others, and especially in Greece and Italy, though this can also be observed in Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg.
- Despite criticism of the political establishment, widespread pessimism is apparently not leading to a Europe-wide rebellion. Only the frustrated young Irish tend to imagine actively taking part in such a movement.
- Non-governmental organizations, such as the Church, also have an influence on young people’s lives. Trust in religious institutions plays an especially important role in Spain and Belgium.
EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre said the results of the Generation What report and the project itself helps broadcasters get closer to young audiences:
“Nearly a million young people have been given the opportunity by public service media (PSM) to speak up and to be heard. The “millennial” generation will, in the near future, be responsible for our continent so it is valuable to hear their voice and learn from what the survey has revealed,” said Deltenre.
“PSM is not just listening but providing a platform to build bridges, not just between generations but between citizens and the institutions that influence their lives. Generation What shall be the start of an increased dialogue between young people in the various countries, institutions, governments and the EU.”
The full report revealing the findings of Generation What Europe is available here and further analysis will be released in early 2017.