Jean Monnet Project Youth Opinion and Opportunities for EU Public Diplomacy: Youth Narratives and Perceptions of the EU and EU-Ukraine Relations in Ukraine and the three Baltic States (E-YOUTH) focuses on a comprehensive analysis of youth opinion(tertiary/secondary level students and youth leaders) in Ukraine and the EU (three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). It treats information gathered as an indicator for the national youth opinion on EU-Ukraine relations and Ukraine’s European orientation in the context of the ongoing violent conflict which threatens the EU’s eastern edges. Youth is defined as a key target audience for EU public diplomacy.
E-YOUTH explores two opportunities for EU public diplomacy in Ukraine: 1. Recent polls register a mild deterioration of EU perceptions among Ukrainians. Yet, one cohort remained unwaveringly positive – youth. The younger the respondents the more likely to see themselves as Europeans, have a positive EU image, and perceive Ukraine’s European orientation in terms of gains for themselves and Ukraine. E-YOUTH provides empirical information to revise EU public diplomacy based on an assessment of EU narratives and perceptions among Ukrainian youth. 2. Three Baltic states occupy a special place in Ukraine’s images of European integration and Ukraine’s European path. They are seen as role-models in post-Soviet transformation; advocates and supporters of Ukraine’s European orientation; and Ukraine’s allies within the EU in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. These views present a solid potential for EU diplomacy in Ukraine. E-YOUTH assesses if Ukrainian youth born after the collapse of the USSR shares these views. Assessment of the Baltics’ youth views on EU-Ukraine relations tests how future leaders and voters from the EU Baltic states see the place of Ukraine in Europe. With public diplomacy stressing dialogue and collaboration, E-YOUTH compares Ukrainian youth narratives on EU-Ukraine relations vis-à-vis such narratives among the Baltics’ youth the systemic comparison of “inside-out” vs. “outside-in” perceptions. Applying a novel IR’s theory of strategic narrative to EU foreign policy studies, E-YOUTH traces youth narratives on systemic, identity and issue levels, situating them within narrative cycle of projection-communication-reception argued by the theory. E-YOUTH offers a comparative analysis across youth generations – school, university and early career. It innovatively employs a mixed (QL and QN) method with a range of instruments (media content analysis, face-to-face semi-qualitative surveys, focus groups with Q Sort, group and individual interviews) to explore youth opinion on a normative level (tertiary and secondary level students) and among key-informants (youth leaders). Given the narrative contestation around Ukraine and the EU, E-YOUTH uses this innovative comprehensive methodology to get beyond the identification of individual attitudes alone, to access the narratives through which individuals understand the past, present and future of the interactions and conflicts, and to generate a fine-tuned assessment of EU diplomatic engagement with Ukraine and its educated youth in particular. Policy- and solution-oriented, E-YOUTH engages leading scholars of EU and IR with early-career researchers and draws on multidisciplinary expertise in EU external perceptions, ENP, CFSP, IR, sociology and law. It unites researchers from six countries – Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the UK and New Zealand (led by NCRE, UC, NZ). E-YOUTH engages with stakeholders from the EU and Ukraine dealing with youth affairs and provides them with unique information to elaborate relevant policies and devise outreach initiatives to influence youth as target audience of EU public diplomacy in the most effective and cost-efficient manner.
University of Canterbury, Christchurch
National Centre for Research on Europe, Christchurch
Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas
Vilnius Institute for policy analysis, Vilnius
Taras Shevchenko National University, Kiev
Queen’s University Belfast
Royal Holloway, University of London
Latvian Institute of International Affairs, Riga
The E-Youth-website is edited by Fabian Schmidt, student at the University of Applied Sciences in Kehl, Germany, during an internship at the NCRE.