The majority of young Europeans believe that the Ukraine war is a 'watershed' event
16 to 26 year-olds see climate crisis as a bigger threat than the Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fight against climate change as the key to future freedom
The climate and the economy are still the two most important EU issues for young people
The mood among young Europeans is getting darker
Young people in Europe feel more threatened by climate change than the Ukraine war or the COVID-19 pandemic. They also put the environment and climate protection at the top of the list of most urgent problems facing the EU together with migration and asylum policy (30 percent each), followed by foreign and defence policy (24 percent). These are some of the key results of the TUI Foundation's sixth representative 'Young Europe' study, which were presented today in Berlin. They were obtained in a YouGov market research agency survey of more than 6,000 people between the ages of 16 and 26 in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Poland.
"The TUI Foundation's youth study shows how young Europeans, between drastic experiences of crisis - war, climate change, Corona - rely on pragmatism and a willingness to compromise to tackle the challenges of our time. 71 percent of them agree with the statement that compromises are needed to achieve success in climate protection. They seem to be very aware of the conflicting goals in climate and energy issues that result from political decisions. At the same time, 66 percent of those surveyed see measures against climate change as securing future freedom. There is also great realism with regard to the war in Ukraine. More than 60 percent of the respondents perceive the war as a turning point. In order to stop war crimes and human rights violations in another country, higher costs for petrol, food or energy naturally find less approval among young Europeans than political decisions such as supplying weapons or economic sanctions. It is a pragmatic approach to the challenges ahead. The study results show a generation that is realistic in its analysis as well as constructive and pragmatic when it comes to the question of how to shape the future," said Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the TUI Foundation.
The majority of young Europeans believe that the Ukraine war is a 'watershed' event. 26 percent of respondents 'strongly agreed' with this statement and 40 percent 'agreed to some extent'. Young people in Greece, in particular, feel that the war is a fundamental event that is changing the world order. 43 percent 'strongly' agree that the war is a watershed event and 38 percent agree 'to some extent'. The results for Germany are very close to the Europe-wide results: 28 percent of respondents 'strongly agree' and 39 percent 'agree to some extent'.
Young Europeans are becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of war in an EU country
In Poland, Germany, Italy and Greece, many members of the young population perceive Russia's invasion of Ukraine to be a threat to them. At the other end of the scale, young people in the United Kingdom feel least threatened. Concerns about war breaking out an EU country are also on the rise: almost half (46 percent) of young Europeans believe that there could be a war involving European Union countries in the next decade. In the 2020 study only 37 percent thought war possible.
Young Europeans are very supportive of personal engagement and government action to improve the humanitarian situation. However, the positive response rates are lower when the measures come at a personal cost to them. Two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents were in favour of their country taking in refugees. 54 percent would accept their country supplying weapons to another country for the purpose of preventing war crimes and human rights abuses. In contrast, young Europeans are less willing to accept higher prices for fuel (35 percent Europe, 45 percent Germany), food (35 percent Europe, 45 percent Germany) as well as heat and electricity (34 percent Europe, 44 percent Germany).
Although 61 percent of young people in Europe are in favour of supplying weapons to Ukraine, less than one-third of them (27 percent) 'fully and completely' support it. 34 percent said they supported it, but with reservations. The strongest support for the supply of weapons to Ukraine came from Poland, where 47 percent of young people 'fully and completely' support it. Young people in Greece (14 percent 'fully and completely support it') and Italy (19 percent) are the most sceptical.
Views of the EU remain stable
Despite the fact that Europe faces a greater military threat in 2022 as a result of the Ukraine war, the EU is not perceived to be a military alliance. 39 percent of respondents stated that 'military alliance' best described the EU as compared to 39 percent five years ago. The majority (68 percent) see the EU primarily as an economic union. The Ukraine war has not even changed perceptions of the EU as an institution that safeguards the peace between European nations. In 2017, 63 percent of the surveyed 16 to 26 year-olds said that the EU was 'absolutely necessary' compared to 62 percent in April 2022.
"The TUI Foundation's latest Youth Study shows that young adults in Europe see the European Union primarily as an economic alliance and a union of states where citizens are free to travel, live and work as they please. This opinion has not been changed by the Ukraine war. Views of the EU remain stable with 23 percent of respondents stating that the current relationship between the EU and its Member States is 'just right'. 42 percent of young Europeans would like to see closer ties between the EU Member States. Here, too, the results are almost identical to 2020. Although we measured the lowest level of approval for their own country's membership in the EU since the Youth Study was launched in 2017 among young Germans, the young people in Poland returned the lowest number of votes for their country's exit from the EU (7 percent)," said Elke Hlawatschek, Managing Director of the TUI Foundation.
Despite the war and the pandemic climate change is still the number one issue for young Europeans
Almost half of the respondents (46 percent) believe that the Ukraine war will accelerate the transition to green energy in Europe. At the same time, the young adults are practical, believing that to become independent of Russian energy we should continue operating our nuclear power stations (44 percent) for longer. There were fewer respondents in favour of continuing to operate coal-fired power stations at 37 percent. More than two-thirds (71 percent) think that political and societal compromises will be necessary in order to prevent climate change. The young people are not only aware of the climate change problem but also of the trade-offs that are occurring - e.g. in connection with the energy crisis.
Over half of them believe that EU nations should give higher priority to preventing climate change than to energy independence (52 percent). As was the case before the Ukraine war, young Europeans prioritise the fight to prevent climate change ahead of measures to boost economic growth. However, the support for climate change is declining in almost all countries. Last year, 47 percent of German respondents gave priority to climate change compared to only 36 percent in 2022.
"One surprising aspect of this prioritisation is that there are no significant differences in opinions about climate change measures across all genders, levels of education, places of residence and family backgrounds. Young Europeans are aware of how urgently we need climate solutions, yet new lines of conflict are evident. In Germany, France and the United Kingdom, environmental and climate protection are considered to be the most important issues for both the EU and the Member States. However, young people in Spain, Poland, Italy and Greece believe that these issues are the exclusive responsibility of the EU. In the latter group of countries issues such as unemployment and social policy are more of a concern for young people. The Youth Study clearly shows that the climate protection divide does not exist between social classes within societies, but to a greater extent between EU Member States with strongly diverging standards of living and economic strength," explained Marcus Spittler of Humboldt University in Berlin, the expert consultant supporting the European Youth Study.
Most young people believe that climate protection measures safeguard future freedom
Actions to prevent climate change are viewed by the majority of young Europeans to be a means of safeguarding future freedom (66 percent) rather than having the effect of limiting freedom. However, around one-quarter of young Germans (26 percent), the highest percentage of all European countries surveyed, do perceive them to be a limitation on freedom as compared to only 11 percent in Italy.
Young people expect the government to provide active support in the fight against climate change. 58 percent of respondents think that higher taxes, rules and bans should be introduced to make products and services more climate-friendly. However, there is a lower level of approval for a ban on petrol and diesel cars. 40 percent of young Europeans are in favour of this and the countries with the lowest approval levels are Poland (29 percent) and Germany (34 percent).
The mood is getting darker
Although the young Europeans' life situations have improved slightly, around one-third (36 percent) of them stated that their life situation had deteriorated as a result of the pandemic. Compared to the previous year, however, the number of respondents who stated that their situation had worsened as a result of COVID-19 has declined significantly (2021: 52 percent, 2022: 36 percent). In all countries - with the exception of Greece - the majority of respondents stated that their life situations remained unchanged. This is partly due to the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, though it might also indicate that young people have become accustomed to the situation and are better able to cope with the pandemic's impacts on public life.
When it comes to their future outlook young Europeans are less optimistic than in 2022. With the exception of Spain and Italy, pessimism among members of the 16 to 26 age group about their future outlook reached a record high: Germany (from 29 percent in 2017 to 35 percent in 2022), France (from 33 to 41 percent), Greece (from 27 to 30 percent), Poland (from 18 to 32 percent) and in the United Kingdom (from 29 to 41 percent). The TUI Foundation has been monitoring young people's opinions about their future outlook since 2017 and the findings have never been so negative. In some cases, the negative development is more dramatic than at any time in the previous five years. The mood is getting darker.
COVID-19 Mental health was impacted most
More than three out of five respondents (62 percent) stated that the pandemic has had a negative effect on their mental health. Greece is the country in which the most respondents mentioned negative impacts on mental health (72 percent). The pandemic also had a significant impact on financial situations in Greece (73 percent) as well as career opportunities for young people (63 percent).
About TUI Group
TUI Group is one of the world's leading tourism groups and operates worldwide. The Group is headquartered in Germany. TUI shares are listed on the FTSE 250, an index of the London Stock Exchange, on the regulated market of the Hanover Stock Exchange and on the Open Market segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The TUI Group offers integrated services from a single source for its 27 million customers, 21 million of them in the European national companies.
The entire tourism value chain is covered under one roof. This includes over 400 hotels and resorts with premium brands such as RIU, TUI Blue and Robinson and 16 cruise ships, from the MS Europa and the MS Europa 2 in the luxury class and expedition ships to the Mein Schiff fleet of TUI Cruises and cruise ships at Marella Cruises in Great Britain. The Group also includes leading tour operator brands and online marketing platforms across Europe, five airlines with more than 100 modern medium and long-haul aircraft and over 1,000 travel agencies. In addition to expanding its core business with hotels, cruises via successful joint ventures and activities in holiday destinations, TUI is increasingly focusing on the expansion of digital platforms. The Group is transforming itself into a digital company.
Global responsibility for sustainable economic, ecological and social action is at the core of our corporate culture. The TUI Care Foundation, initiated by TUI, focuses on the positive effects of tourism, on education and training and on strengthening environmental and social standards with projects in 25 countries. It thus supports holiday destinations in their development.