The Impact of Erasmus + on European Citizenship: The Case of Estonian and Slovenian Youth
Allaste, Airi-Alina & Deželan, Tomaž
The mobility of young people for education, training and other purposes has been increasing globally, influencing belonging and citizenship spontaneously. On the other hand, in Europe there are programs designed to create a sense of belonging to the idea of Europe and solidarity of young Europeans with its fellow citizens. This paper examines the role of the European Commission Erasmus + program in encouraging the notion of European citizenship among young individuals from Eastern European member states by looking at the value of learning mobility actions.
The relevance of the Eastern European context is rooted in the different citizenship traditions and practices that former socialist countries have compared to their Western European counterparts. The behaviour and attitudes inherited from an authoritarian citizenship system, amplified by the negative effects of political and economic transitions, demand additional attention. Particularly, since socialist citizenship patterns have been, by various agents, transmitted to younger generations even though they have no direct experience of living under a socialist regime or witnessing its demise as a result of civic awakening.
Taking into account contextual idiosyncrasies, the post-socialist youth still faces the same challenges as young people across Europe, including the new political and social reality related to the European Union. This paper focuses on how young people perceive the influence of their mobility experience on citizenship standpoints and practices, at the same time taking into account the impact of the wider social context. The in-depth micro-level analysis is primary based on semi-structured interviews with young people from Estonia and Slovenia, conducted before and year after they had participated in ‘E+ Youth in Action’ activities and contextualised by two rounds of survey data with participants of projects.