28th Feb 2024

EU hopes for youth surge in June, asks Taylor Swift for help

  • In the last 2019 elections, the EU saw an increase in voter turnout for the first time ever, largely due to young voters (Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service)
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The European Commission has pinned its hopes on US pop queen Taylor Swift driving young voters to the polling booths in June.

"No one can mobilise youth better than young people," European Commission vice president Margaritis Schinas said at the start of a press conference on Wednesday (10 January).

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  • The EU has asked American star Taylor Swift to mobilise young voters ahead of the EU elections in June (Photo: Eva Rinaldi)

However, few expected Schinas to then publicly ask American singer Taylor Swift to encourage young Europeans to go to the polls, as she did with US citizens on her social media last September.

"Taylor Swift will be in Europe in May, (...) so I very much hope that she does the same for young Europeans," Schinas continued.

The European Parliament elections will be held between 6 and 9 of June.

"Now it's the moment for them to have a say in the ballot box, to attribute praise or blame on European policies," said Schinas.

In the 2019 elections, the EU saw an increase in voter turnout for the first time, which rose to 50.6 percent (+8 percent compared to 2014) and a eurobarometer survey conducted immediately after the elections showed that the increased participation was largely driven by young voters, especially those under 25.

And in 2024, the EU wants them to return to the polls — and Schinas urged them to act as a barrier against populism.

"Young Europeans will become a wall of democracy next June against this wave of populism and hate that threatens to attack Europe," he said.

The EU commissioner for education, Iliana Ivanova, also emphasised the importance of engaging with younger generations, announcing the introduction of a so-called 'youth check' to analyse how EU policy proposals affect young people's lives now and in the future.

"Through these quality assessments, we can ensure that their concerns, priorities and ideas are taken seriously and that every year is indeed a year for youth," commented Elias Dray, vice president of the European Youth Forum.

Ivanova said that engaging with young people is a commitment, not a statement, and stressed that the EU is working to give them a stronger voice so they feel heard, and to address their concerns.

Yet one of the key demands of youth organisations, on internships in the EU, has now been removed from the Commission's agenda.

The latest agenda published by the EU executive on 9 January shows no sign of the proposal to improve internships in member states, which trade unions, MEPs and youth organisations want to see banned.

An EU official told reporters in Brussels that the agenda was only indicative and that items are only confirmed after the meeting of heads of cabinet.

"This is not a case of any point being pushed back or pushed forward, or changed, this is simply an internal planning tool of the commission that we put at your disposal," the senior official clarified.

"A few days don't make such a big difference," Ivanova said, adding that it is a matter of technicality and that the commission intends to tackle the issue.

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