Too complicated, too far away, too un-involving, too boring: French youth are turning their backs on Europe. An Ifop survey on young people in France and the European Union, published in April, reveals that, out of 100 registered young people, 77 will not vote in the European elections.
So what has caused this rift?
- What you need to know about voting in the crucial European elections
- OPINION: Why Macron can blame himself if Le Pen triumphs in EU elections
French young people see the European Union mainly as a historical subject that they studied in school. Europe appears to them as complicated rather than democratic.
Not glamorous enough
Young people think of travel and they think of America and Australia, Europe just doesn’t seem exotic enough. In an attempt to counter this apathy, the EU has invested €16 million this year in a discovery travel programme: Discover EU.
Only young people aged 18 are eligible. They must travel to their European destination by train, all for a maximum of €260. Thirty thousand young people have already taken advantage of this offer launched in 2018.
Young people’s attitudes to Europe depend on where they live in France. Someone from a big city is much more likely to have opportunities to experience other European cultures through academic exchange programmes such as Erasmus.
If your father is a farmer and you want to take over the farm, your only direct link with Europe will be the CAP, the Common Agricultural Policy.
According to an OpinionWay survey on 18-30 year olds, conducted on April 26th, young French people are pessimistic about the future of Europe. The “positive feeling” young French people have about the European Union has gone down by 7 points.
Opportunity to change
Half of the voters say that this vote – or abstinence from vote – expresses “a disagreement about the way the European Union is run”.
Young French voters believe that they can use this election to vote against the system.
Young and old will have the opportunity to place a vote in the ballot box for Europe on May 26th.