PRESS RELEASE published on 25 Apr 2017

EBU’s landmark Generation What project reveals picture of European youth

The EBU’s landmark Generation What Europe project has revealed how 18-34 year olds across Europe feel about a number of key areas affecting their lives including politics, immigration, national identity and their hopes for the future.

The research was collated by 18 EBU Members. Broadcasters in Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Wales* took part in the Generation What project which ran for a year with the aim of finding out how a generation of young people across the continent feel about their lives.

Launched in April 2016, nearly a million young people have taken the 149 question survey focused on family, peers, self, society, the future, country and identity.


Trust in politics and media

Trust in the political class is rock bottom. 90% believe some, or all politicians are corrupt. Worst offenders are Greece and France which top the ‘all of them’ poll with 60 and 61%. The Netherlands and Ireland escape the best with only 22% believing ‘very few’ of them are corrupt.

Not surprisingly, trust in politics overall is also very low, with an average of 82% having no trust in the process. Lack of trust is highest in Italy (94%) Greece (92%) and France (92%).

Things are better in The Netherlands and Germany (62% & 63% say they have no trust in the political process) but not by much.

However, all is not lost as 69% want to vote and respondents would not be happy without the ability to cast a ballot.

The media doesn’t do much better, with an overall 80/20 vote of no confidence in the trustworthiness of media across Europe. While the German media comes close to acceptance with a 39% trust-approval rating, there is less room to manoeuvre in the UK, Italy and Greece which all get 90+ disapproval.


Despite the growth of nationalism and populist politics, there is no appetite for a ban on immigration.

Overall 73% believe immigration makes society richer – with particular support in Spain (85%), Germany (83%) and Denmark (83%). European women in general support immigration more than men by 75% to 69%, but young (under-19) UK males drag behind significantly, with only 42% in favour.

Two thirds of the poll response show young Europeans are not bothered by the sight of women wearing veils in the street, and in the Netherlands that number rises from 67% to 85%. Austria, the UK and Luxembourg are less convinced with around half saying they are/are not concerned.

On the question of welcoming refugees, there was a strong voice in favour of opening up.

Almost a third (32%) voted to welcome all refugees whatever their reason for migrating, and a further 31% want to see refugees from war zones accepted. Migrants from developed and developing countries were not favourably perceived (1-2% each), while there was a 6% call to accept no refugees at all (led by voters in Ireland, the UK and Czech Republic).


Music makes the world go around with an overwhelming 98% saying they could not be happy without music. They also like to read and 73% tie their happiness to books.

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not all about the internet, or mobiles. 63% say they can get along perfectly without a mobile phone, while a less certain 52% think the internet is not a vital part of happiness.

Ominously for broadcasters, 79% can live without television. And religion is out as well – only 15% of those polled believe religion is key to happiness.


Fighting for your country gets a big thumbs down in the Generation What survey. 60% say they wouldn’t (with women leading the No vote in every single country polled, by an average of 66 to 53). The most enthusiastic male fighters are to be found in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Ireland.

Looking ahead

Overall, young Europeans look to the future with a measure of confidence. They feel in control of their own destiny (72%), with notable exceptions in the unemployment hotspots of Spain (38%), Italy (43%) and Greece (48%).

Despite a lack of certainty whether their education has prepared them properly for life (Yes 51/49), and limited trust in Europe (no 53/47), they see the future optimistically, overall (62%). But it is patchy.

While the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Switzerland bask in 70+ ratings, Italy, Greece and the UK hover around the 50% mark.

Support for a copy of Brexit is also low, 76% also see their country’s future as remaining inside the EU.

And the Brits are isolated again when it comes to sex. While there is enthusiasm for having sex in public places in Austria (68%), Belgium (64%) and Ireland (63%), this is not likely to be matched in the UK where a prudish 66% of under- 19s said it’s not for them.

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 results of the survey can be found here.

*EBU Members who took part in the survey:

ORF (Austria)

RTBF (Belgium)

VRT (Belgium)

CT (Czech Republic)

CR (Czech Republic)

France Télévisions (France)

BR (Germany)

SWR (Germany)

ZDF (Germany)

ERT (Greece)

RTE (Ireland)

RAI (Italy)

BNN (Netherlands)

RTVE (Spain)

RTR (Switzerland)

RST (Switzerland)

RTS (Switzerland)

S4C (Wales)

The survey was also conducted by Eldoradio (Luxembourg) and in Belarus