UK

Most Young People Don't Even Know The European Elections Are Happening In May 2014

28/04/2014 11:24 BST | Updated 28/04/2014 11:59 BST

Airwaves might be dominated by Ukip's gaffes or the Lib Dem's nosedive in the polls, but less than half of young people are aware the European elections are even taking place, new research has shown.

Just 42% of people aged between 12 and 24 know that the European Parliament is due to hold elections in May, with eight in 10 feeling "disconnected" from the European Union.

But contrary to the Eurosceptic rhetoric from some Conservatives and UK, the majority of young people, 72%, see themselves as European citizens, according the study from Anglia Ruskin University and the Euclid Network.

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European elections are not on radar of the majority of young people

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times indicates anti-European feeling is high among other age groups, and that Ukip leader Nigel Farage is not sustaining significant damage from the furores, or persistent questions about his MEP expenses.

The firm gave Ukip an outright advantage for the first time, with 31% support compared to 28% for Labour, and the Tories languishing in third on 19%.

The results are in line with a ComRes poll for the Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday last month, which put Ukip on 30%, Labour on 28%, and David Cameron's party on 21%.

Young people feel isolated from the European Union not because they oppose its function, but because they feel they don’t know enough about the EU, how it works and above all how it affects their everyday lives, the Anglia Ruskin research suggested.

Only 7% admit that they know ‘a lot’ about the EU and just 12% feel that the EU impacts on their lives ‘very much’.

Just one third could spell out the difference between the European Parliament, European Commission, European Council and the European Union.

A massive 88% believe that young people in the UK should be taught more about European politics at school.

Dr Darren Sharpe of Anglia Ruskin University, one of the report’s authors, said the concerns voiced by young people were “not that dissimilar to older generations" on issues of EU immigration.

"But they also strongly identify as being European and are broadly optimistic about the future of the EU," he continued.

Young people see "the value of creating an EU army, learning a second language, and improvements in health and social welfare for all European member states," he added.

The survey captured the views of 500 young people aged 12-24 via workshops and a British Youth Council online questionnaire, carried out between January and March 2014 and funded by the European Commission’s Permanent Representation to the UK.