European Citizen’s Prize for JEF-Finland: ’The vast majority of young Finns identify as Europeans’

, by Juuso Järviniemi

European Citizen's Prize for JEF-Finland: 'The vast majority of young Finns identify as Europeans'
Balloons at the JEF-Finland Europe Day event in 2018. Photograph: Eurooppanuoret (JEF-Finland) // Facebook

The European Citizen’s Prize is awarded annually to individuals and organisations that promote mutual understanding within the EU. This summer, JEF-Finland is one of the fifty recipients of the prize.

Each Member of the European Parliament has the right to make a nomination for an awardee. JEF-Finland was nominated by Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP who highlighted the way in which the organisation has played a valuable role in citizen dialogue on the future of Europe. The prize will be presented to JEF-Finland at SuomiAreena, an annual high-profile media event where politicians attend discussions and debates in July. All of the winners will be invited to Brussels for a joint event in October.

The prize jury commended the fact that JEF-Finland had taken into account the European Year of Cultural Heritage in its activities. According to Tuomas Tikkanen, President of JEF-Finland, the organisation ran three cultural events, covering European identity as well as the sixty-year history since the Treaty of Rome. The third one, a Eurovision night, was a fitting representation of European culture. The New Federalist asked Tuomas Tikkanen to tell more about recent Finnish discussions on Europe.

The New Federalist (TNF): Earlier this year, you surveyed young Finns about their attachment to European identity. What were the key findings of the survey? Did the findings or the public reaction to the survey surprise you?

Tuomas Tikkanen (TT): The biggest, positive, surprise was to see how positively young Finns think about Finland being a member of the EU. We always tend to say that young people think this way but now we actually have proof of that.

According to our research, 81% of young Finns think that being a member of the EU is a ’good’ or a ’very good’ thing. The percentage is much higher than among the whole population in Finland. Another big positive sign was that 91% of young Finns see themselves as Europeans. The proportion of Finnish youth who see themselves as European is bigger than the proportion of those who see themselves as members of their local community (89%).

TNF: What other initiatives has JEF-Finland been particularly excited about this year?

TT: Looking beyond JEF-Finland, the Commission’s proposal for the next Multiannual Financial Framework is really interesting, and we were very excited about the significance it gave to the Erasmus+ programme, for example. On the other hand, I think the Commission’s initiative to give away free Interrail tickets is bit strange, and it is certainly not the core function of EU.

TNF: In what ways has Finnish public discourse on European integration changed over the past few years? What ideas can JEF-Finland bring to the debate?

After the Brexit referendum, there has been an awful lot of talk about a ’Fixit’ referendum as well. Positively enough, most segments of Finnish society are not at all excited about the idea, and the EU membership is still seen as a valuable thing. Nonetheless, Brexit has opened the opportunity for anti-EU campaigners to talk about a ’Fixit’.

Together with the European Movement in Finland, JEF-Finland has brought facts into this discussion, and continues to do so. We represent the vast majority of Finnish youth who wish to be part of the European Union.

TNF: What is JEF-Finland seeking to achieve next? How can the European Citizen’s Prize benefit the organisation in the future?

This was of course a great acknowledgement and I do believe that it will keep inspiring our board, members and staff in the future. Next, we wish to accomplish a visible and influential campaign ahead of the European Parliament elections next spring.

Your comments

Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.

Enter your comment here

This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Follow the comments: RSS 2.0 | Atom