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Youth and EU Elections: European Youth Week Encourages Democratic Participation

European Youth Week is a theme week held every two years. It encourages youth to participate in European Union decision-making and active citizenship.

This year European Youth Week is celebrated from 12th to 19th of April under the theme Voice Your Vision. The theme of the year is inspired by the European Parliament elections to be held in June 2024. The aim of the event is to encourage young people not only to vote in the upcoming elections but also to participate in the society in other ways. During the week, the focus will be on topics that are important to young people, such as environmental issues, digital accessibility, and participation. The EU has named the involvement of youth in decision-making and democratic processes as one of its priorities.

While voter turnout among young Europeans in European Parliament elections has seen a slight increase in recent years, it remains far from ideal. In the 2019 European Parliament elections, only 42% of all European citizens aged 18–24 cast their vote. In Finland, the turnout was even lower at just 24.2% for the same age group.

According to a report commissioned by the European Parliament, factors affecting the voter turnout of young people include lack of political interest, lack of awareness, and physical barriers to voting, such as the location of polling stations. According to the 2018 Youth Barometer, interest in politics is actually growing among Finnish youth. However, political participation, such as voting, running for office or joining a party, has not increased. The voter turnout and political participation of young people can be supported, for example, by increasing information, strengthening participation, and making voting easier.

For us at Youth Academy participation means that everyone has the opportunity and resources to participate and influence in matters that are important to them. With this we do not mean only participation through political means, but more broadly in different arenas of the society. Increasing democratic participation is of course also one form of supporting participation.

We encourage all those working with youth to celebrate the European Youth Week with us. This is a fantastic opportunity to increase young people’s knowledge of the European Union and the theme week and to encourage youth to participate in democratic decision-making. Together we can make the European Youth Week an unforgettable experience for young people!

Free material tip for discussing the topic with youth

Know Your Europe mobile learning game deals with the EU’s different activities and responsibilities, and offers a great opportunity to get to know, among other things, the EU’s values, goals and practical activities. The game is available on the platform in three languages English, Finnish and Swedish. The game is perfect for discussing the European Youth Week and its topics with youth. The material is available for free on our website.

Order Know Your Europe learning game

This text was written by Kaisla Karhuvirta, intern at Youth Academy in spring 2024.