Why does EU need civic education?

By Vicky Missira, PhD in European Policy

For all those who believe in the European project, the results of the recent EU elections are promising, taking into account that they were marked by a historic participation of Europeans. This trend manifests the increasing interest of EU citizens in European issues as well as their desire to handle the numerous global challenges at the European level. However, on the 26th of May, it was young people who created a surprise, through their significant mobilisation to vote.

Far from disinterest in politics that often marks this age group, young people demonstrated their strong interest in European -and global- topics and Europe must not let them down. In this respect, civic education has a special part to play. Indeed, nowadays, there is a wide consensus in Europe upon the importance of civic education in sustaining democracy as well as in the preparation of well-informed, concerned and active citizens. Citizenship education is currently a priority at the European level and is perceived as an instrument to enhance democracy and participation, to increase the involvement of young citizens in shaping the future of the European project; and to foster a sense of a common European identity. In the wake of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, the EU Education Ministers and the European Commission signed the Paris Declaration, which called for action at European, national, regional and local levels to reinforce the role of education in promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination (European Commission, 2015).

On top of the Paris Declaration and the Key Competences Framework[1], the EU has expressed its commitment to citizenship education through a number of policy initiatives. However, despite the above mentioned progress, much more has to be done -not only at the European level but also at the EU member states- to ensure that citizenship education receives the attention it deserves.

Whilst citizenship education is not panacea against all social ills, it is anticipated that it can contribute towards the European common good. So, let’s take advantage of the positiveelections results as a motive for further mobilisation.