The latest Eurobarometer report, European Youth in 2016, shows worrying trends concerning the mobility of young people. The survey conducted among 10,294 young Europeans aged 16-30 in the 28 Member States revealed that a striking 61% of respondents are not interested in intra-EU mobility for training, education or professional purposes. This is a significant increase compared to the 2011 EU Flash Barometer Youth on the Move which indicated that a mere 37% of non-mobile young people showed a lack of interest.

The increasing disinterest for learning, training or profession in a different country revealed by the survey is worrying, to say the least. In a crisis-shaken Europe, these alarming figures must be addressed by all those in power to act. Europe is suffering an identity crisis, a democratic crisis and an economic crisis. Political answers to these crises must take into account young people’s future well-being and opportunities.

“We believe the apparent lack of interest shown by the Eurobarometer is rather a lack of proper information regarding the available opportunities and the benefits of mobility for young people. This is particularly true for young people with less opportunities. These young people need to be addressed by decision-makers urgently.”

Safi Sabuni, President of ESN International.

The Eurobarometer shows that only 12% of young Europeans have experienced professional or learning mobility within the EU. This is in line with the EU Youth Report 2015, which showed that only 9% of young Europeans aged 15-24 had experienced learning mobility. Mobility for all is still very far away from the reality of most young Europeans.

Learning and professional mobility is a powerful tool to develop a strong sense of European citizenship, to encourage multicultural understanding and tolerance, to foster active democratic participation in all its forms and to develop a wide range of skills young people need to thrive as professionals and active citizens in increasingly complex societies.

“The Erasmus Impact Study leaves no doubt about the direct individual benefits of mobility on employment, multicultural abilities and a wide range of transversal skills. The only conclusion to draw is that it is time to make the Erasmus Generation really happen!”, adds Safi Sabuni.

Investments in accessible and high-quality mobility of young people are part of a solution to the current crisis Europe is facing. Long-term and short-term, volunteering, studying, training and professional mobility opportunities should be made available to all young people in order to reflect the diversity of their needs and aspirations. ESN calls on all institutions, at the European and Member States’ level, to renew and strengthen their commitments to international mobility. From the accessibility, diversity and quality of available opportunities to the promotion, support and information provided to young people about these opportunities and their benefits. 

It is becoming essential for the future of Europe to achieve mobility for all. Adequate support, including empowerment of youth-led associations, should be provisioned in order to ensure all mobility experiences are quality ones, delivering the promised results and creating a systemic impact on youth.

ESN commits to continue to promote, support and facilitate student mobility by providing quality services and representation, through collaboration with all stakeholders involved, for more mobility and better mobility for all.

Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is a non-profit international student organisation. Our mission is to represent international students, thus provide opportunities for cultural understanding and self-development under the principle of Students Helping Students. ESN mobilises more than 13.500 members from 500 local associations in 38 countries working on a volunteer basis in Higher Education Institutions. We offer services to 180.000 students.