Last week the Belgian Government announced that young people from 16 years old will now be granted the right to vote for European Elections.
Belgium will be the third EU Member State to adopt this recommendation, following Austria and Malta, where 16 years old can instead vote at all levels.
It was 2015 when the European Parliament proposed to Members States to lower the voting age at 16, asking for the harmonisation of voting age in all EU Member States. We are delighted to see that Belgium has taken a first step forward. While it is reassuring that we are slowly moving towards this direction, the number of EU member states that implemented the recommendation is considerably low and we cannot stop advocating for youth participation.
We must remind that a stronger investment in Citizenship Education in national secondary education curricula, with a global and holistic perspective on common values, is essential to guarantee young people the access to fundamental tools to make aware decisions. Thus, the voting has a tremendous impact in building strong values and puts the needs of young people on the table.
‘Belgium showed to the whole Europe that young people should have a voice, by lowering the voting at 16 for European elections, school students starting can directly participate in the European democratic life. It is a step forward in upholding democratic principles, in promoting a culture of participation, which will build long-standing attitudes of today’s and tomorrow's citizens. Accompanied with proper investment in citizenship education, both in formal and informal settings, this measure would allow for a deepening of the democratic process, with effects on both national and Europe level. We urge other European states to join this endeavour and upgrade the democratic processes towards a more participative role of young people.’’- Adrian Barbaroș, Board Member of OBESSU