In the upcoming months, the stage is set for European Union citizens to vote in the European Parliament elections. The spotlight is on the involvement of young French voters in this democratic event.
June marks a pivotal moment for EU member states as they prepare to elect their European Parliament representatives. The previous elections in 2019 witnessed a significant 50% surge in youth participation compared to 2014.
In France, however, the scenario varied. The 18-39 age group showed a lower turnout, ranging from 32% to 37%, unlike their counterparts in Denmark, Germany, and Belgium, where youth voter turnout was between 60% and 90%.
The question arises: Are young French voters equally engaged in this democratic process today? We explored various viewpoints.
A young woman shared, “I probably won’t vote because I’m unaware of the election date. I haven’t kept up with the candidates or parties either.”
A newly turned 18-year-old male remarked, “I’m not familiar with the process, so there’s definitely a need for more information.” A 19-year-old female added, “I’m almost 20 and hardly know about these elections. We’re aware they happen, but that’s about it.”
To counter this disinterest, the French division of the “Young European Movement” is taking action. They recently hosted a European Parliament simulation.
On January 20th in Paris, high schoolers and youths from various French cities experienced the role of European deputies firsthand.
This event is part of the MEET project, sponsored by the European Commission, designed to ignite discussions across Europe and enhance young people’s civic engagement.
Laure Niclot, president of the Young European Movement, stressed, “Many young French people are not well-versed in European affairs or the Parliament’s functioning. According to the latest Eurobarometer poll, only 14% of French citizens are aware of the election date. Our challenge is to engage them, raise awareness, and inform about these matters.”
Collaboration Jessica Larsson, Deputy Head of the European Commission Representation in France, believes in the importance of initiatives like the Young European’s. “Such projects facilitate dialogue with youths, helping them practically understand the EU’s workings, the functions of its institutions, and the roles of the Parliament, Commission, and Council,” she said.
Larsson emphasized the need for educational projects to appreciate Europe as a participatory democracy, highlighted by initiatives like the Conference on the Future of Europe.
But what efforts are being made by the EU to educate young people about the European elections?
Larsson explained, “Voting should be an informed choice. For this, resources are available on the European Commission and Parliament websites, and through our representations in France. We’re also active on social media, providing various platforms for information, encouraging questions, and promoting events like today’s.”
In these simulations, students engage in debates and seek improvements to EU legislative drafts.
A Young European volunteer described the process: “We asked students to review a European Parliament resolution on the Conference on the Future of Europe. They work in political groups to propose amendments to the text.”
A young participant expressed excitement, “We witness inter-party negotiations. This simulation allows us to step into the roles of deputies, offering more insight than a traditional lecture.”