European Youth Survey
The concept ‘youth’ in European policies has been introduced only recently and it stresses the importance of actively including young people in European matters. The treaty of Maastricht in 1993 laid the foundation for a more active contribution of youth in society. Specifically, in this treaty it is stated that the EU should “…encourage the development of youth exchanges and of exchanges of socio-educational instructors…” In satisfying the treaty, the European Commission implemented a program, in 2007, that promotes youth active participation in European matters. The program is called ‘Youth in Action’ and it aims to include all young people, irrespective of social, educational or cultural background, in the decision making that will shape the Unions’ future.
Purpose and Methodology
- Along with the EU guides and under the UCYVROK project, the research team prepared a survey that attempts to examine from the youth directly the reasons that participation is minimal or non-existent in EU projects.
- The survey consisted of 23 statements that are possible reasons for non participation and on which participants were asked to check the degree to which they agree or disagree with the statement on a 5-point scale. The responses ranged from Totally Disagree to Totally Agree.
- The 23 statements derived from a structured dialogue conducted on 17 and 18 March at Future Worlds Center in Nicosia, Cyprus. The structured dialogue co-laboratory lasted two days. The first day focused on the Vision of an ideal society, whereas the second day focused on the Obstacles that prevent the ideal society from being materialised. Further to the above the participants and the facilitation team developed a comprehensive list of statements regarding the participation of less privileged youth in European Youth projects and activities, based on the root cause map created in the interactive workshop session.
- Demographic information was also asked from the participants in order to be able to compare responses based on country, background or educational level.
- In addition, participants were asked to give their own opinion on the topics the responsible bodies should focus when designing youth programs as also on the means that are most appropriate to them for receiving information on existing and new youth programs, opportunities and choices.
- The age of the participants ranged from 18 to 30 years old as per requirements of this project.
- The survey was administered in the eleven countries that constitute the partnership of this project. Each country was asked to collect a sample of 100 questionnaires and return them to the research team in Cyprus. All questionnaires have been translated to the native language of each country and answers were translated to English before being sent back to Cyprus.
The results were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The sample at present consists of 227 males and 311 females from nine countries (Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Latvia, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania). The mean age of the sample is 22.5 years old.
An analysis of the participants’ responses on the statements revealed that 14 out of the 23 statements constitute important reasons for non-participation in EU projects from Youth. These statements are:
- In many European countries young people still have stereotypes and prejudices.
- Youth don’t feel confident enough to participate in EU projects.
- Youth show less interest for communal politics compared to national politics.
- Most of the activities for youth are placed in big cities rather than in rural areas.
- European youth programs can cause expense to participants such as time, petrol, travel etc, thus it makes participation difficult.
- Many young people are not financially stable.
- Young people are not aware of the opportunities and benefits that are available to them.
Many young people feel they have no power to actually change policies.
- The decisions and activities of Brussels and the EC are far away from the personal realities of young people.
Many less privileged young people have the feeling of being outsiders in the country they live in.
- Many young people do not have a sense of belonging to a community thus they do not take it into consideration.
- Less privileged young people are not asked for their needs, expectations and wishes.
- Young people are not aware of the existence of and access to youth programs.
- Young people are not aware of others’ behavior, cultures, values and environment.
Root Cause Map Results
Reason: Programs in most cases don’t reach young people.
- Creation of TV spots
- Specialized magazines that inform about available programs
- Promotion through Social Networking Sites
The current youth programs don’t adequately address the real problems that young people are facing in their everyday life.
- Career opportunities
- Gender Issues
Reason: Many young people feel they don’t have a power to actually change things and this prevents them from dealing with EU matters.
Suggestion: EU should find ways to ‘convince’ youth that their involvement can have a real impact – Example: UCYVROK project.
- This European Youth Survey is attempting to examine real problems in the communication between the European commission and the European Youth.
- Results show that the EC has some real issues to address and work on, for offering young people a better chance in being active citizens.