Croatian Students and European Politics

How familiar Croatian highschool students are with European institutions and Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU – a survey report

As Croatia took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union in January 2020, students at Prva gimnazija Varaždin conducted a survey among high school students in the Varaždin County to find out how familiar young generations are with the European Union and its institutions. The survey consisted of 7 questions relating to the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The survey was completed by 225 students, aged 15 to 19, from 11 high schools in Varaždin County. The biggest number of respondents were students who attend grammar schools, particularly the fourth-graders.

Credits: eu.2020.hr, design by Iva Primorac

Croatian Presidency 2020

The purpose of the survey was to get a specific insight into how much high school students in Varaždin County know about Croatian presidency of the Council of the European Union. The answers to the first question in the survey show that the vast majority of students are familar with the fact that Croatia is currently presiding over the Council of EU. This is not a surprise, because a lot of Croatia’s news have reported about this.

The Role of the Council of the European Union

Moving to the 2nd question about what role the Council of the European Union have in the EU, students have given many different answers which can be sorted into 2 big groups.  According to the answers in the 1st group, which consists of almost half of our respondents, the Council of the EU is in charge of making laws or making important decisions about the member states. The second group consists out of 17 percent of  respondents  who say that they don’t know about the role of the Council of the EU. Since the Council of EU is the voice of EU member governments and adopts EU laws and coordinates EU policies it can be concluded that half of the students are well informed about how the Council of the EU functions.

The Meaning of the Presidency for Croatia

The answers to the third question, what the presidency of the Council means for Croatia, show that most students believe that Croatia can benefit from its current role economically and politically. According to the answers given, students are aware of the fact that although Croatia is a small country, the presidency can bring it in the spotlight and more people across Europe can learn about it which can be good for investments, tourism, economic development, better cooperation with other European countries.

The Duration of the Presidency

Regarding the fourth question about how long the presidency is held by one country, more than half of the questioned students are familiar with the fact that the presidency is held for 6 months. In case of Croatia it is from January to July 2020. This  information was also published in the news so the correct answers show that students are informed about political events.

Current Presidency Trio: Romania, Finland and Croatia

However, the fifth question, “What is the current presidency trio”,  was mostly incorrectly answered.  The correct answer, Croatia, Finland and Romania, actually had the lowest percentage. Almost half of the students chose France, Germany and Croatia as their response. They probably thought that to be a member of the presidency trio, a member state has to be among the strongest countries in the EU. Also this information was less present in the media.

Croatian Motto and Program

” A strong Europe in a challenging world”

The sixth question, about the official motto of the Presidency, had a big clash in percentages.  The right answer, “ A strong Europe in a challenging world” was on top with just two voices more than the answer that came in the second place. The second most frequently chosen answer was : „A sustainable Europe – a sustainable future“. Students may have chosen it because of the slogan’s simplicity and catchiness.

A Europe that develops, a Europe that connects, a Europe that protects, an influential Europe

Moving to the last question about the pillars of Croatian presidency’s program,  Around two fifts of the survey repsondants answered it correctly: “A Europe that develops, a Europe that connects, a Europe that protects and influential Europe“. About one third of students chose a similar answer that also included four elements, which shows that most students were aware of the four pillars but some were not certain about what exactly was stressed in the program.

In conclusion, it appears that students posses quite sound knowledge about the Council of the EU. The things they read in newspapper or hear on news definetly stay in their heads. Then again they didin’t know all the answers, especially the ones that required information that was not promoted so much in the media. However, we can conclude that students are quite well informed about the Council of the EU and even more importantly, they show quite a positive attitude and some optimism about Croatia’s role in the EU.

Written by Petar Potočnik

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