The significance of developing European identity - the analysis of Polish students

Kornelia Elżbieta Mazurkiewicz, Małgorzata Duczkowska-Piasecka


Adolescents are the future of the European Union. They are the ones who will make strategic decisions and shape relations among the member countries. In order to manage political and economic challenges and to create Europe of knowledge, the significance of education and promotion of the European identity among young people has to be emphasized.

The purpose of this research was to become acquainted with the opinions of the younger generation on the EU member countries, foreigners living there and the European economy during/after crisis. The tasks were to ask students, who spent at least 3 months abroad, to share their views on how they were treated by foreigners while staying abroad, and what they frankly think about the other European countries and their inhabitants. They also commented on the development of European identity and their potential place of residence in the future.

The primary methods used in the study were a survey and a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the results. A survey was conducted in May 2011 among 100 of Polish students who took part in European student exchange programmes (e.g. Erasmus or Leonardo da Vinci). The study included 13 detailed questions, both open and closed. It helped in pinpointing the pros and cons of the system. What is more, it highlighted the advantages of seeking challenges abroad and temporary change of environment. It may also be useful in eliminating the possible drawbacks mentioned by respondents.

The results of this research are particularly significant for economists because they forecast possible migrations in the nearest future due to distinct and fast development of the European identity. The vast majority of the young people feel responsible not only for their country of birth but also for the whole Union as well. They tend to name themselves Europeans as often as Poles. They are not guided by stereotypes and treat foreigners as individuals without generalizing. The young generation is not afraid to work abroad and/or with foreigners, and even looks forward to it. People become better educated, aware of who they want to be, more creative and innovative. Because of constantly improving level of languages, development of the European Research Area, transfer of knowledge and open access to information, it happens that particular institutions, enterprises or smaller companies exchange among one another products, services and employees.

The results lead to certain conclusions. Despite the fact that the European educational policy was so heavily criticized, it appears that it has at least one reason to be valued for – the development of European identity among young people. The economic growth may be based on culture. The success of the European Union and its strategies depends on well-informed citizens who understand, support, identify and feel responsible for all actions undertaken by UE. That is why, there is a need for new models of communication and cooperation between EU institutions, the economy and European citizens. The globalization leads to constant integration of the European countries, societies and economies. Because of the Internet the distance is no longer a problem, that is why people may easily maintain relations with foreigners after returning to their country. It makes them pay more attention to their behavior and tendencies. In other words, it makes them more responsible European citizens.



European identity; Erasmus; integration; European Research Area (ERA); European citizens

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Print ISSN: 1822-8402
Online ISSN: 2335-8831