This time I'm voting". That's the slogan chosen by the European Parliament to develop an initiative aimed at raising awareness and promoting voting amongst the youth for next year's European elections.
Jaume Duch, the European Parliament's Communications spokesperson, explained that its aim is to make it clear that this is about "the most important elections in the world", since it's the only existing transnational parliament. "These are complicated elections, since they usually remain in the backdrop of domestic news", he declared.
"We all need to make an effort to let the public learn about these elections", affirmed Duch. Regarding the European youth, the spokesperson believes that "the future of young people in Europe is closely tied to the future of the EU".
Young people make up the group with the lowest voting percentage at the European elections (only 27% voted in the last elections). Jaume Duch used Brexit as an example of what could happen if we give up this vote. "Whatever's good or bad for Europe will be decided by May's results", he added.
"We need to learn about the values of the EU"
Sandra Arévalo, a student of International relations and Journalism, is a volunteer of this initiative. She wanted to highlight the need to study the European Union at school. "We are not being educated on Europe", she said, before adding that "it's essential for children not to perceive Europe as a giant building located in Brussels".
"Yes, some of us youngsters are committed to this [task]", she said, while also warning that: "Young people cannot take their vote as a joke". While Carlota Nuñez, told us that her involvement in this campaign is due to the fact that, as youngsters "we are the best embodiment of the EU's principles", and we are the ones who can offset xenophobia or Euroscepticism".
"We are voting for Europe and that's more important than anything else", Carlota concluded. Jaime joined in. "The European Union is always ahead, its policies are policies for the future", he explained, and that's why "young people must be first at voting".
Also, the youngster called on to the past. "We must remember that before, in Europe, we only had peace in the periods between wars", he reminded. Now, they face a different fight, and it is to demonstrate the importance of democracy.
Jaime's case is peculiar. He started convincing his friends to vote: They had no intention to participate in the European elections, and this youngster believes that these elections are "key". He explained his position. He believes that these elections are not important in Spain, they are left in the background, and he reminds us of "people's weariness".
In this regard, Jaume Duch admitted that communications are still essential. "It's important for people to know that they have to vote, and for them to vote", he said. Yet, he didn't hide the fact that "political parties must also be involved". He believes their commitment is needed, but he also asks for first rate candidates, and not those pursuing "a golden retirement".
A new campaign
The spokesperson said the campaign has the aim of "decentralizing". European citizens must deal with the matters dear to them, and, in each country, these matters are different. "In Spain our top priority is unemployment", he said, while in Italy they talk about "migratory policies".
He also highlighted the importance of the media. "We must also learn to use the social media to contact the 400 million European citizens", admitted Duch.
These elections are not just about choosing names, but rather, about choosing "a model for the European Union". And we are not talking about ideological models. "It's all about learning whether we want more EU or less EU", the Communications spokesperson concluded.