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Survey: Majority of youth back EU

Members of the Finns Party were most critical of the EU, meanwhile respondents stood divided on cooperation on immigration issues.

Eu:n lippu maalattuna nuoren naisen kasvoihin.
Image: Stephanie Lecoqo / EPA

A clear majority of youths in Finland support the EU, according to a recent survey by JEF Finland, a member of Young European Federalists Europe.

In the survey, 81 percent of 18 to 29 year olds fully agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement that "EU membership is good for Finland". Meanwhile, 15 percents disagreed with the declaration.

The survey was commissioned by JEF Finland and conducted by pollster Taloustutkimus and interviewed a total of 1,009 youths by phone, with a 3.2 percent margin of error.

Respondents most critical of the EU identified as members of the nationalist Finns Party or were graduates of vocational schools.

Finland’s membership of the EU proved a divisive issue among youth members of the Finns Party as 51 percent found EU membership to be detrimental, while 49 percent thought it was a positive development. Respondents who were second-most critical of Finland’s EU membership were from the Centre Party -- 17 percent said membership in the regional bloc was not good for Finland.

The survey also found that 68 percent of all respondents felt they shared common ground with young people of the same age living in other EU countries. Such respondents comprised primary and secondary school graduates as well as holders of university degrees.

Views split on immigration cooperation

According to the survey, a majority of youths back the notion that more EU cooperation is needed to fight climate change and promote developmental projects, representing by 76 percent and 56 percent of respondents respectively. Financial matters and issues of foreign policy however produced an even division in respondents between advocates for increasing cooperation and those who backed more self-reliance.

Immigration proved to be the most contentious issue among respondents. The majority of all respondents, at 43 percent, would keep EU cooperation as it is in relation to immigration issues, while almost a fourth of youths, with 27 percent, would increase cooperation. A total of 25 percent of respondents would be in favour of decreasing cooperation with the EU on matters of immigration.

However, the EU polled strong opinions among youths for its strengths and assets as 89 percent of all respondents said they felt the EU strengthened peace in Europe. The second most valued advantage of EU membership was seen as the EU’s capabilities to bolster well-being and equality.

Greens and the NCP popular among youth

Based on answers to the survey, the most popular parties among youths in Finland are the Green Party whom 19 percent of respondents claimed they supported, as well as the National Coalition Party, favoured by 16 percent of respondents. Lagging behind was the Centre and Finns parties with 8 and 6 percent backing respectively. Some 30 percent of respondents did not indicate their political stance.

The attitudes EU membership did not change from last summer when an Yle poll found many in favour of Finland’s EU membership. In that poll 19 percents of respondents said they would vote to leave the EU if a referendum were held, however a total of 72 percent claimed they felt no need for a referendum.

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