We must help young people engage in EU debate, says Lucas

16 March 2016

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, has said that the UK’s younger generations must engage in the EU debate before the older generations allow us to sleepwalk the UK into a Brexit.

Lucas, writing in IB Times, explained that the importance of the referendum must be stressed to young people. “It is deeply concerning that so far the debate has failed to engage those who have never in their lifetime had a say on the European question, and yet whose entire future will be affected by this vote.”

She argues that students and the younger generation in general may be enjoying the benefits of our EU membership without realising they could be about to be taken away. It may even seem impossible to them that the UK could turn its back on something that has always been there.

“They have grown up in the era of peace and stability inaugurated by the creation of the EU; been protected from discrimination and unfair treatment by EU laws; studied and worked with friends and colleagues who have come to the UK from abroad. For some, being European is an instinctive part of their identity. For others, remaining in is simply common sense.”

A vote to exit the EU in June would severely impact education and research in the UK, she says: “The billions of pounds of funding pumped into our higher education institutions not only allow us to conduct groundbreaking research, but mean that far more students are able to go on to study at post-graduate level.”

If we stay in the EU, it’s the current young generation of the UK who could help shape the future of the EU. They will be the ones who will have a chance to make it become more democratic, more transparent - the EU we all want: “The younger generation has a huge opportunity to change Europe for the better – to ensure that it becomes a genuine force for solidarity and collective action.

“For a start that means making important meetings like the EU Council open to the public through livestreaming, and rebalancing the power in Brussels so that elected politicians in the European Parliament have sway over unelected commissioners – not the other way round.”