Not seen, not heard: the implications of Brexit for children

brexit sandcastlesExiting the European Union has the potential to severely, negatively impact children living in Britain today, yet so far Brexit has remained a discussion between and about adults, writes Helen Stalford, Professor of Law at the University of Liverpool. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership ‘Brexit Divisions’ with openDemocracy.

On 23 June 2016 adults will decide on the future of the UK’s membership of the European Union. While proposals to extend the vote to 16 and 17 year olds were defeated in the House of Lords in December 2015, they reignited debate over the substance and scope of children’s democratic participation and their capacity to make informed political decisions. None of these discussions or, indeed, any of the wider debates surrounding the forthcoming referendum have considered the impact that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU might have on children’s rights and lives. This is in spite of the fact that children, who make up one fifth of the EU population and nearly one quarter (approximately 15 million) of the UK population, have the biggest stake in the outcome of the referendum. As current and future citizens, consumers, movers, workers, parents, and carers, children will bear the full brunt and, indeed, the benefits of any decision to either remain in or withdraw from the EU. Continue reading

Don’t blame young voters for not bothering about the EU referendum

bench-people-smartphone-sunProfessor Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s College London and Director of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative, highlights the challenges of engaging young voters in the EU referendum campaign. Despite having the most at stake, young Britons tend to be not only uninformed about the EU in general, but also disinterested in the referendum debate.

Never before have so many had to decide on something they knew or cared so little about.

The “London bubble” is obsessing about the EU referendum on June 23. The parts of Twitter I see are hyperventilating with excitement over designation, debates, purdah, net costs and benefits, and the like. But the majority of the country could not give a fig.

This matters. It matters because the decision is an important one. And it matters because young people in particular, who have more at stake than anyone else, have the least interest in, and least knowledge about, the EU. Continue reading