Europe’s youth and the European Parliament

Europe, now has more older people, than young people. Life expectancy has increased and birth rates have declined. Pensions and long-term care cost will stretch Europe’s economies. The financial burden of an ageing population will be carried by young Europeans. But are they equipped for the future? What can the European Parliament do to help?

We spoke with young Europeans, asking them to explain the challenges they see for young people in Europe, and what the European Parliament can do to help.


Education is the cornerstone of Europe’s economic strategy. Matching education with skills gaps is critical to achieving the innovation which powers Europe’s exports and provides rewarding careers for Europe’s young citizens.

The European Parliament was at the forefront of the new Erasmus Plus programme, which enhanced the hugely successful Erasmus system. Erasmus Plus is enabling many young Europeans to benefit from the deep cultural and educational experience of studying in another country. Since its inception, thirty years ago, more than nine million students have benefited directly from the Erasmus programme.


Youth unemployment has damaged the perception of the European project. The economic crisis caused youth unemployment to rise to devastating levels in many countries across Europe, particularly in Spain, Italy and Greece. Today, the situation is slowly improving, but convincing Europe’s youth that the European Union has THEIR interests at heart, got much harder.

Freedom of movement

Freedom of movement has been one of Europe’s greatest successes. In most of Europe’s member states, this generation of young people has never known internal borders. But the threat of terrorism and the challenges of the migration crisis, have threatened freedom of movement. But closing Europe’s borders, and restricting freedom of movement, is perhaps the greatest threat to Europe’s economy, and public perception of the European project.

Digital economy

Key to driving Europe’s economy is innovation. Creating a digital single marketplace is one of the European Parliament’s key objectives in the coming years, and as early adopters of new technology, Europe’s young citizens have a key role to play in shaping the digital single market.

Boosting Europe’s global digital impact will depend on Europe’s speed of deployment for 5G technology, and on the willingness of young Europeans to stay in Europe, building careers in enterprising, ambitious companies.


Keeping Europe’s intellectual and entrepreneurial talent in the European Union will depend on the risk-taking mentality of today’s youth. Do they see California as a tech paradise, or will they commit to Europe, creating products, services and intellectual property, and sowing the seeds of a new digital revolution?

To encourage entrepreneurship, the European Parliament has been instrumental in improving insolvency rules and reducing red tape for start-ups; and European funds have been made available to stimulate entrepreneurship.

This report was supported by the European Parliament.


The project was co-financed by the European Union in the framework of the European Parliament’s grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information for opinions expressed in the context of this project. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the project.

Subscribe to our newsletters