September 2018 – October 2019
Falling voter turnout is a common trend and young voters abstain more than the general population in all European democracies. The democratic deficit and low electoral turnout is not faced by specific countries, but it is a phenomenon happening at EU level. The gap between the democratic institutions in Europe, their representatives and Europe’s young generation is growing. Although young people are more likely to be present in other forms of political participation (protests, strikes, joining pressure groups, etc), their overall election turnout is dramatically falling. In 2014 only 28% of under 25 were voting, compared to the general election turn-out rate which was 42.6 %.
This overall trend is double also by another worrying phenomenon: disinformation, fake news and trolling are most visible during the electoral campaigns, in an attempt to hamper with EU elections, undermine pro European values, and promote nationalistic and xenophobic messages. In addition, ease of access to relevant and adequate information on the elections is not only a country specific problem, but it happens widely in the EU. Fears about influencing elections have become more and more pregnant in the EU especially after the allegiances that Russia tried to hamper with elections in France, Netherlands or during BREXIT. This scenario is damaging for the EU 2019 elections that may record another all time low voter turnout.
We believe that understanding how young people in the EU see their renewed civic engagement on those topics (and seeing their engagement in street protests as a form of democratic participation) is a first step to address EU’s future in a constructive and inclusive way. Thus, ENGAGE project aims to offer a platform of debate which would be closely linked to the key questions of how to involve young European citizens in the discussions over their future; how to count on their support for the European values and what are the prospects for, and consequences of, an increased, more vocal Euroscepticism among EU Member States versus the costs of no EU.
Continuing debates on governance and policy-making should be translated from Brussels to the grass roots, closer to EU citizens in order to ensure that the European project can move forward and can respond to the challenges the Union in the 21st century is facing.
All information about the project partners, activities, results and outputs can be found in the dedicated website