Education, culture, youth and sport
#TheFutureIsYours Education, culture, youth and sport in Europe
Our Future in Our Homeland Europe EJ Congress's output and Survey
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What do young people want for their Future in Europe? Desires, expectations and proposals.
The European Journalists Association – The Communication Network ASBL (EJ) was founded in San Remo (Italy) in 1962 and aims to promote European integration based on the rule of law and freedom of press. In the context of the “Conference on the Future of Europe”, EJ organized several online events among its members from different EU countries and with the involvement of hundreds of young people – mostly students – in order to discuss about the European project and consequently deriving reflections, suggestions and proposals for Europe’s future.
The main events were promoted in connection with the yearly International Congress and were planned to take place at the West University Timisoara in October 2021, but were held online due to the pandemic. A special survey involving about a thousand students was organized with the coordination of the former student of journalism of the Timisoara University UVT Codirlă Alexandra-Maria with the support of her former teacher Stefana Ciortea Neamţiu and Paolo Magagnotti, EJ President. In the following we report some of the main questions from the questionnaire, with the relevant summarized answers.
1. The European Union has a long history. How much do you know about the European Union?
2. Were you already interested in researching or reading about the European Union? From which sources?
3. Would you like to be better informed about the European Union in the future?
4. Do you think that the right freedom of expression is strictly guaranteed in the European Union?
5. Mark from 1 to 10, in order of importance, which areas should be the most important for the European Union in the future.
6. Is it better to keep unanimity or is it better to have majority voting in the European Council?
7. Who should defend Europe?
8. Do you think the European Union should accept new countries or are the present 27 countries enough for now?
9. At the present, the following countries are candidates to become member of the European Union: Albania, Republic of North Macedonia, Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo. Which ones do you think should become members first?
10. Thinking about your country, what advantages do you think being a member state of the European Union can give?
11. To what extent do you think young people could make a difference for the future of the European Union?
Our purpose was to have clear opinions on the topic, thus we intentionally made explanatory, open, closed and exemplary questions for our students. We had multiple choice answers and free answers in every question. In a few days, we received a total of 663 answers from the students.
Young people are interested in different subjects, and several of them read and search information about the European Union, but only 59 students showed to have a rather large knowledge about the EU. When they conduct research, the most used source is Internet, followed by television (news) and books. Many of them would like to have more detailed information about the European Union. They want to know how the European Union acts during a crisis, how can they be involved and how the EU handles its member States. The main fields of interest requiring particular attention and support by the EU are health, followed by a strong economy, social justice and jobs. In third place we find climate change and environment. A large portion of participants thinks that the applications for a further EU enlargement should be seriously considered.
Conclusion and snapshots:
We received all the answer in a few days. We were happy that all the students considered this survey useful and serious. They were really excited about the subject and they really wanted to express themselves and to mark their opinion. Thus, the students want to be more informed about the European Union. The European Union is an opportunity for the countries who are in financial, social, cultural and political unrest. They see an „open door” for the members states. And last, they believe that more countries should join the European Union, bacause such countries could develop their potential and invest in the most crucial fields: health, sport, culture, climate, education and security.
• The European Union is more a necessity rather than an opportunity.
• Health together with education are basic conditions to allow people to develop their potential.
• Climate change must be addressed very urgently to avoid a catastrophe.
• Young people require real effects that, in addition to principles and values, can motivate them to be more involved in the European affairs.
• We need more correct and objective information and a system countering the myths.
• The EU member States must realize that they need to give real power to the European Union to have a strong European foreign, defense and security policy.
• Even considering that the EU is a unity based on diversity, all member States must be aware that the European institutions can’t be hindered by pure egoistic national interest if they want to become more efficient.
• It is necessary to change the Lisbon treaties in order to allow the European Council to decide without the present request of unanimity: this is a limit that doesn’t leave room for any necessary trigger to make the entire EU system to work in an appropriate way. The entire EU legislative and administrative bodies must be more aware that they are elected, appointed or hired to serve the citizens and not to be served by them.
• There are two very topical aspects of the European integration where almost all the students involved in the survey expressed the same firm opinion/request.
• We need a strong and efficient European defense community with the support of all the member States. Even if the majority of the students are supporting a European defense community by itself, several of them would prefer a cooperation with NATO.
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