Only around 30% percent of young people between 18 and 29 participate in the European elections according to the “Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung” in Germany. But how can we change this? Twenty young journalists dealt with this question with regard to the upcoming elections last weekend in Berlin.
Additionally to the young journalists, speakers who are engaged with Europe were present at the workshop. One of them was Detlev Clemens, representation of the European Commission in Berlin. He said that it is important to make Europe attractive for young people, because “their voice makes the difference for the future direction of the European Union”. A suggestion of us, the journalists, to reach more young people is to personalize the election like in the US, nevertheless it is clear that it is impossible to launch an Obama campaign in Europe, because we have a completely different mentality in Europe. But perhaps we can take a bit of the spirit of the American elections for the European elections.
Beside obstacles like the prejudice that Europe is only a complicated bureaucracy, which is too far away for most citizens, there are also the EU myths. One current German example is the myth that German bread is “not healthy”, because it contains according to EU guidelines too much salt. The guidelines are only discussed and far from being released, the German press titled “German bread is going to be forbidden by the EU”. Although the EU clarified and denied the myth, a negative image of the EU stays in the heads of many “German-EU citizens”.
Another obstacle is that many people, peculiar young people in Germany, does not really know how the system of the EU works. Which rights has the EU parliament? What does the European Commission and who is the Council of the European Union?
In order to clear all these obscurities the “politikfabrik” in Berlin will launch the project “Eurowahlgang”. With this platform they want to motivate young people from 18 to 29 to vote in the European elections. The project includes the visit of 80 schools in Germany, parties, a cinema trailer as well as a campaign on social networks such as facebook. A campaign from young people for young people. Already for the elections of the German Bundestag 2005, they launched a similar campaign and were very successful. In my opinion a very innovative project which makes Europe more “sexy” for the youth.