For most young Europeans, the European Union (EU) is more of an economic alliance rather than an institution of shared values, while some appear skeptic and believe their country should leave the EU, according to the findings of the European Youth Study, commissioned by Germany’s TUI Foundation and conducted by YouGov.
The survey polled 6,000 young people, aged between 16 and 26, in seven EU countries – France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK.
More than 76 percent of respondents regard the EU as an economic alliance, and only 30 percent see it as an alliance of countries with common cultural values. More than a third want the EU to return power to national governments. This trend is particularly pronounced in Greece (60 percent) and the UK (44 percent).
Populism and Democracy
Only half (52 percent) of young Europeans regard democracy as the best form of government. Democracy convinces young people least of all in France (42 percent), Italy (45 percent) and Poland (42 percent). In all three countries, populist movements have grown up in recent years. In Germany, approval of democracy as the best form of government is higher (62 percent), but top of the list is Greece with 66 percent.
EU skeptics and supporters
In no country is there a majority among young Europeans in favor of leaving the EU. But one in every five (21 percent) advocates the withdrawal of their country. Particularly critical are young people in Greece (31 percent for EU exit), with French and Polish young people more in the middle (20 percent for EU exit). The EU is rated most positively in Germany and Spain as only 12 percent of young people in these countries would vote against in a referendum on staying in the EU.
Young Europeans have very different assessments of the current economic situation. While a total of 29 percent of young people assess their current financial situation as relatively good, 32 percent judge it as rather poor. Young people in Spain, France and Greece are particularly negative, while the assessment from Germany, Poland and the UK is above average.