Young people and the future of European democracies

European democratic systems are currently facing a profound crisis in light of a sustained collapse in political participation and the decline in legitimization that goes with it. This works at two interconnected levels: at one level, this crisis concerns the nature and quality of political participation of young people in European democratic life; at another level, it concerns forms of social, economic, political, and intra- and inter-generational inequalities exacerbated by the economic crisis and austerity measures, challenging young people's aspirations for prosperity, growth, and stability across Europe. Many young people are increasingly disengaged and even positively critical in some cases of the ways in which our political life is conducted at both the national and European Union levels, and by a pervasive sense of powerlessness in relation to the issues that are affecting their own economic and social prospects. For some scholars and commentators, this is due to a “democratic deficit” and young people's feelings that their values and interests are not reflected in mainstream policies and institutions. 

Yet, while young citizens tend to disengage from conventional politics, they are very often the driving forces of political participation that aims to change societies and political systems. Rather than being depoliticized as it has been most commonly assumed, young people in different national contexts may be giving rise to alternative politicswhich implies participating in politics in different ways – in youth organizations and through the social media and democratic innovation and experimentation. It is these aspects that are particularly addressed by the project. Developing an EU-wide policy understanding of the potential of young people to craft new democratic models is at the centre of EURYKA