Over one in two young people see climate change as main global challenge for the future of the EU. This was one of the main conclusions of a special Eurobarometer survey the Future of Europe whose findings were just published.

Commissioned jointly by the European Parliament and the Commission, the survey was carried out between 16 September and 17 October 2021 in the 27 EU Member States. The survey was conducted face-to-face and completed with online interviews where necessary as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Some 26,530 interviews were conducted in total.

Main conclusions

  • Nine out of 10 young Europeans agree that tackling climate change can help improve their own health and well-being (91% of 15–24-year-olds) while 87% of all respondents also share this sentiment
  • 43% of respondents say the main benefit of involving Europe’s youth in the Conference on the Future of Europe is to focus on issues of interest to them
  • 81% of respondents say they are happy living in the EU
  • 68% of Europeans agree the EU is a place of stability in a troubled world; while 67% agree the EU project offers a future perspective for Europe’s youth

The Future of Europe

The Eurobarometer shows that 91% of 15–24-year-olds believe that tackling climate change can help improve their own health and well-being, while 84% of those aged 55 or over agree. Almost every second European (49%) sees climate change as the main global challenge for the future of the EU, with overwhelming support for the environmental objectives of the European Green Deal: 88% of Europeans think it is important to increase the share of renewable energy in our economy and have greater energy efficiency, while 80% agree on the importance of making Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and promoting the growth of the zero- and low-emissions vehicles market.

Other future global challenges highlighted by respondents include health (34%) and forced migration and displacement (mentioned by some 30%).

Having comparable living standards (31%) and a common health policy (22%) are the two most helpful aspects for the future of Europe. Europeans also prioritise stronger solidarity among Member States (21%) and energy independence (20%).

Assets, challenges and values of the EU

The four most mentioned challenges facing the EU itself are social inequalities (36%), unemployment (32%), followed by migration issues (31%). Like with the global challenges, environmental issues and climate change also feature high on the list of challenges facing the EU, mentioned by 32% of respondents.

Europeans consider the EU’s respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law (27%) as the main asset of the EU, followed by its economic, industrial and trading power (25%).

Peace (49%), freedom of opinion (47%), social equality and solidarity (45%), and tolerance and openness to others (44%) are the values best embodied by the EU – in comparison with other countries, according to respondents.

The Conference on the Future of Europe

Some 43% of Europeans say that the main benefit of involving the younger generation in the Conference is to focus on issues of interest to them. Further benefits of their key role in the Conference is the energy and motivation for reform and change they bring (cited by 35%) and their focus on making the future of Europe more relevant to the challenges of today’s society (33%).

Citizens’ voice in the EU

90% of Europeans agree that EU citizens’ voices should be taken more into account in decisions relating to the future of Europe. 55% of Europeans mention voting in European elections as one of the most effective ways of ensuring voices are heard by decision-makers at EU level.

This survey is available on a new dedicated Eurobarometer website providing access to Eurobarometer surveys and data published by both institutions since 1974.