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Shaping the Europe of Tomorrow

Young Voices from Georgia to Denmark

Ten countries are in the process of possibly joining the EU. Decisions that will affect millions of Europeans. As emotions swirl around the expansion of the EU, its inhabitants feel conflicted about the consequences. It's the younger generation who will have to live with the decisions made today.

The next generation

“Overall, it means to me, that I am free.”, answers Nico the question what it means for him to be European. Probably not the most common answer one would get asking a random pedestrian in the streets of a European city. But Nico is not any European. Only 19 years old, he has deeper knowledge of the colossus of the EU-bureaucracy than most europeans.


Being just one of around 450 million inhabitants of the European Union, one could ask themselves, what part is there to play for me? And not enough, the EU is in the process of extending its borders and with them the number of its inhabitants grows even further.

A sizable number of EU-citizens is against their integration into the EU. But what does the European youth think about it? What is their stance on the extension? They are the ones, who will have to live with today’s decisions. Four young Europeans, Nico from Austria, and Katrine from Denmark, two aspiring EU citizens as well as Sofiia from Ukraine, and Mariam from Georgia, two citizens of countries with a candidate status share their opinions, hopes and fears of the Europe of tomorrow.

A growing Union

Since the European Coal and Steel Community was founded in 1951, the Union has grown from six to 27 member-states. The Union has expanded seven times and further enlargement might be around the corner.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, accelerated the process of many countries becoming EU members. As a result, four countries (Georgia, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova) were granted candidate status and were able to advance in the process.

Knud Erik Jørgensen is a Professor in International Relations at the Department of Political Science at Aarhus University. Aarhus, originally a Viking settlement and the second largest city in Denmark, is a flourishing cultural city that was appointed European Capital of Culture in 2017. This was a huge acclamation of “the world's smallest big city”, as Aarhus, with its population of just around 250,000 people, describes itself. According to Jørgensen the Russian invasion has changed the perspective of European leaders.

Just a couple of years back, there was an ‘extension-fatigue’ among EU-leaders. Membership processes were paused and the EU was directing it’s attention elsewhere. The Russian invasion of Ukraine completely changed that picture.

Knud Erik Jørgensen

Knud Erik Jørgensen explains that support for the expansion may be rooted in solidarity for Ukraine, the belief that Ukraine and Georgia are geographically and culturally a part of Europe as well as the belief that if the EU takes part in the rebuilding of Ukraine, it might – in the long term – benefit the Union financially.

Although all member states have approved of the negotiations with Ukraine and Georgia, a requirement before a country can become a candidate-state, the people of the European Union are still divided as to whether more countries should be included in the Union.

Across six EU-member states, 35 per cent of the population think that they should. Whilst 37 per cent of the population think that the EU should not be looking to expand at this moment.

The strongest support comes from Romania, with 51 per cent in favour, which makes it the country with the highest approval rate of the six countries in the spotlight .

The strongest opposition comes from Austria, with more than 50 per cent saying the EU should not be expanded.

On the other side Jørgensen mentions that people in the EU might be against the expansion because of the economic consequences of a larger Union, because they have an idea that Ukraine is not a part of Europe or because they believe that their countries will get less of a say in the EU, if more countries join.

Voices from the West

Katrine & Nico

Four young Europeans share their perspective from four different countries around Europe. All of them share the same European fate. A fate being determined as you read.

23-year old Katrine Platon Skyum is a part of the Danish youth organization "European Youth", which works to improve the understanding and interest in the EU among the youth in Denmark.

Reflecting on what it means to her to be European, Katrine says that she takes pride in being a part of multinational and culturally diverse community.


Katrine believes that the integration of Ukraine and Georgia would create a stronger European Union, but she also believes that the EU needs to reform before expanding. Specifically, she wants the current veto right abolished.

If we get new countries that aren’t fully aware of what we expect from them, then it can be quite a mess. So I feel like the veto right needs to be abolished if we want a good transition.


If the veto right is abolished, Katrine sees the expansion as a positive development. She emphasizes the benefits it would have for the population in Ukraine and Georgia.

The people in Ukraine and Georgia want better democracies, and integration is a way we could help the people.


According to Katrine, strengthening democracy in the region would also be a way to mitigate the global decline in democracy.


Nico shares a similar view on the European future as Katrin. He highlights the importance of the EU supporting the reform processes in Ukraine and Georgia:


Voices from the East

Mariam & Sofiia

In the March of 2022, Georgia embarked on a decisive journey, officially applying for EU membership. By June, the European Commission's critical evaluation gauged Georgia's readiness for this significant leap.

The pivotal June meeting of the European Council acknowledged Georgia's potential candidacy, contingent on addressing specific priorities outlined in the Commission's opinion. This paved the way for a transformative moment in December 2023 when Georgia clinched candidate status, embodying a tangible commitment to meeting the European Commission's recommendations.

In the midst of these institutional strides, a recent poll by the International Republican Institute illuminated Georgians' unwavering support for EU membership. April 2023 marked a record high, with 89 percent of Georgians endorsing the idea.

Mariam Kebadze is a young ambassador of Georgia in Hungary and a third-year International Relations student at Eötvös Lorand University. Her journey, beginning in Hungary in 2021, aligns seamlessly with Georgia's trajectory toward EU membership.

As the European Union recommended Georgia for candidate status in November 2022, Mariam reflects on the profound impact of cultural exposure on the nation's integration aspirations. She believes that as Georgians embrace diverse cultures, it not only enriches individual experiences but also lays the foundation for a smoother integration into the European Union.


Ukraine's path to the European Union dates back to 1993, when the Parliament enshrined its intention to develop cooperation with the EU in a resolution.

After the Revolution of Dignity (the protest of Ukrainians against the government in order to direct Ukraine's vector to Europe), the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was signed in 2014, which led to the beginning of the development of relations and the development of political association and economic integration.

On February 28, 2022, shortly after the start of the Russian invasion, Ukraine applied for membership in the European Union.

After receiving recommendations from the European Commission, on June 23, 2022, the European Council granted Ukraine the status of candidate for membership in the European Union.

On December 14, 2023, the European Council decided to start negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union.

Sofiia Korotych is a master's student in the Law program at the Ukrainian Catholic University (Lviv, Ukraine). She is currently studying under the Erasmus+ program at the Central European University in Vienna, Austria.

Sofia shares her thoughts on the benefits and challenges of Ukraine's accession to the EU as a law student and as a citizen of an EU-accession country:


The road ahead

The voices of young Europeans, such as Nico, Kathrin, Sophia, and Mariam, echo with a collective resonance that transcends borders. Their opinions, hopes, and fears are integral to the ongoing narrative of the European Union. Being European is not a monolithic experience but a shared journey shaped by myriad perspectives and the youth, with their engagement in politics, debates, and activism, are pivotal architects of the Europe of tomorrow.

Nico refers to it as a balancing act. We must adapt to each other and strive for the sweet spot of equal benefits. The road ahead is undoubtedly rocky. However, this is one that we must all face together.