YOUNG-5a-2014 - Societal and political engagement of young people and their perspectives on Europe
Specific challenge: Since its creation, the European Union has been constantly changing, shaped by European citizens, and young people represent both its present and its future. Consequently, exploring the perspectives of young people on Europe and the ways in which they engage in shaping its future is crucial for the long-term success of the European project. However, according to the recent findings of the Eurobarometer (Standard EB 77, spring 2012), half of the young people tend to distrust the European Union and this percentage has constantly increased in the aftermath of the crisis, rising to 50% in 2012. Also, almost 50% of them consider that things are going in the wrong direction in the EU. Despite that, according to the Eurobarometer Flash ‘European Youth: participation in democratic life’ 2013 (n°375), young people are more active in non-governmental and local associations than in political parties, even though most of them generally vote in elections at different levels.
The EU Youth Strategy (2010-2018) aims to encourage young people to be active citizens and participate in society in order to ensure that they have a say in the democratic processes that shape Europe’s future. In this context it is important to understand how young people participate in the society under unequal regional conditions and expectations, express their views (also in terms of language, meaning and media) and advocate their interests which may involve new forms of political and civic actions, mixing traditional and new forms of engagement such as through the use of digital media inter alia and creative practices, and reconsider socially innovative problem solving process.
It is also important to show how public authorities establish a broad engagement with young people not just in democratic processes, but in all public sector processes, in order to increase trust in and accountability of public authorities. Previous eParticipation projects focused on the use of ICT for citizen involvement in political decisions and public policy making at local, national and European level. Open participation, open processes and open engagement allow young, connected people to become active actors in all decision-making processes and activities of the public sector.
a) Research will analyse the reasons for the declining trust and examine qualitatively how the values and interest in common objectives of the young people, often influenced by cross-border mobility experiences, compare with the general social dynamics at the EU level. It will also examine how best to stimulate the societal and political engagement of young people to strengthen the European project and how they understand their role in shaping the European history, especially when they have to build on political commitments of past generations.
Research should also consider how to improve the representation of young people in all areas which affect their lives in order to ensure that their concerns and visions are integrated in decisions made at all relevant levels, thus shaping new forms of democracy in Europe. This should take into account the different ways, traditional and novel, in which young people engage in society, exploring the socio-cultural and generational contexts of the different forms of engagement. Research could also look into the means and styles of communication by and for young people as well as into the linguistic dimension.
In addition, research should explore which of these forms have been successful in achieving societal goals through the analysis of specific cases (for example community projects, solidarity networks, etc.).
Activities under this topic should take into account the characteristics, approaches and needs of young people coming from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, including the gender context.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1.5 and 2.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
a) Through a better understanding of the different factors influencing the perspectives of young people on Europe and of the ways in which young people engage in society, activities under this topic will help tackle the challenge of bringing the European Union closer to its citizens.
Through exploring ideas and tools to integrate young people’s perceptions into various areas of policy-making, these activities will also help to boost the participation of young people in society, increasing the democratic accountability of the decisions taken at the EU level and consequently building public support for EU policies.
Type of action: a) Research and innovation actions
 See also http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/eparticipation</p>