In a landmark decision, Belgium opened the doors of democracy wider than ever before by making it possible for citizens aged 16 and above to participate in the European Elections (EE24). The initial law enacted in December 2023 allowed the youth to vote in case they registered. But, the registration requirements were abolished by the Council of Ministers, reconfirming that the opinions of youth matter and that they can actively change the course and development of our democracy. Finally, the Constitutional Court ruled to oblige youth to vote on the grounds that they should be treated in the same way as adult voters. These positive steps from different actors, in fact, heralds a new era of political engagement and democratic participation. Engaging youth through the electoral process can knock down the gap in descriptive representations and promote issues of particular interest and concern. Furthermore, as the previous legislation allowed only those above 18 to vote and the most recent election was held in 2019, a great majority of students in university and secondary school third cycle will vote for the first time. In this paper, we want to share insight into why European Elections are important for the youth and why their votes count. 

The Role of the European Parliament in Sustaining EU and Its Values

The European Union (EU) stands as a beacon of democracy, human rights, and cooperation. At its core, the EU is committed to promoting peace, stability, and economic prosperity among its member states, while upholding the principles of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. These values are not merely theoretical ideals but are actively embodied in the policies and initiatives of the EU, ensuring that it remains responsive and accountable to its citizens. These ambitious objectives are codified in Articles 2 and 3 of the Lisbon Treaty and EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. They reflect the Union’ steadfast commitment to its internal strength and role as a global actor for positive change.  

The European Parliament (EP) plays a pivotal role in the EU’s governance, acting as the voice of the people in the European decision-making process. It is instrumental in providing oversight over other EU institutions, ensuring that they work democratically, transparently, and efficiently. This includes scrutinizing the implementation of policies and the utilization of the EU budget. As Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are directly elected by EU citizens, the Parliament, thanks to this composition, allows for the diverse voices and interests of the EU’s populace to be represented and considered in the legislative process. This is especially important as the Parliament acts as co-legislator, sharing with the Council the power to adopt and amend legislative proposals and to decide on the EU budget.

The Importance of Voting In EE24

The decision to lower the voting age to 16 in Belgium signifies a profound trust in the younger generation’s ability to shape their and Europe’s future. Voting in EE24 is not just a right; it’s a powerful tool through which youth can influence policies that affect their everyday lives and expectations from future, ranging from climate action and digital transformation to education and job opportunities. Allowing young voters to participate in the EE24 fosters a sense of belonging and responsibility to their communities and broader European active society. It encourages them to engage in political discourse, understand political implications and support changes that align with their values and aspirations. It creates a generation of informed, active and civically engaged citizens committed to shaping a more inclusive and sustainable future for Europe. By participating in EE24, they have a direct say in the composition of the EP and, consequently, in the direction of the EU.  Because, voting concretizes the collective interest, and the most demanded social changes are given a voice. If youth avoid voting, democracy’s representative power will naturally be limited. The interests of the social classes that have most widely shown up at the ballot box will be prioritized, leaving others less represented. 

For Gen Z, inclusivity, diversity and openness are of utmost importance. Voting is a tool to give more space to everyone’s needs, thus inclusion of all layers and segments of society and representation of their interests in a comprehensive way in the political landscape.

Finally, as European societies, we are facing some of the most complex social, economic, and political challenges in the last half-century. By electing representatives who reflect their views and priorities, voters can catalyze the implementation of measures aimed at addressing multiple challenges, such as health reforms, environmental protection to combat climate change, economic development to promote prosperity and job opportunities, and social justice to uphold fundamental rights and promote equality in society.

In conclusion, voting is one of the pens to write history. Based on well-informed perspectives and by aligning themselves with candidates who propose robust public policy responses, youth can effectively influence the direction of public action. Believing in the power of voting is the force that built our democracy and is also the direct tool with which we can improve it.

Who Can Vote and How? 

Belgian youth[1] residing in Belgium or abroad with at least 16 years of age who are entitled to vote and are registered on the electoral roll will participate to the upcoming elections scheduled for Sunday, 9th June 2024.  They will vote in three elections at different levels. At the European level, youth will elect 22 Belgian representatives of the European Parliament. At federal level, they will elect the 150 deputies for the Chamber of Representatives and 50 senators for the Senate. Finally, for Regional level, based on the region they reside, they will elect their representatives. Voting is obligatory, either electronically or by using paper vote.[2] Voting can also be by a proxy.[3] Non-participation[4] to the voting carries the risk of a fine. However, repeated absence from voting, totaling four instances within a 15-year span, may lead to the loss of their civil rights, thereby forfeiting their voting privileges.

The Significance of is a vital platform that facilitates ongoing dialogue between the European Parliament and EU citizens. It serves as a bridge, allowing for a two-way exchange of ideas and information that fosters European identity, encourages democratic engagement. The platform provides various tools and resources for youth to actively participate in the democratic process, promoting informed voting and civic involvement. Thanks to, the Parliament communicates its activities, decisions, and their impacts on citizens’ lives, ensuring transparency and accountability. The platform allows youth to raise their voices and taking action within a vibrant, growing community. More practically, it serves as the central hub for all activities related to promoting democracy and the 2024 European elections. Regular emails provide actionable ideas for organizing events, taking action, and sharing ideas through this platform. Registering on is straightforward. By visiting the platform’s website, citizens can sign up to receive updates, participate in discussions, and access resources that will help them engage more effectively in the democratic process. The platform also offers opportunities for youth to organize and participate in events, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose.


The inclusion of younger voters in the European Elections marks a pivotal moment in the democratic life of the EU. It reflects a belief in the youth’s potential to contribute to the ongoing project of European integration and democracy. As EE24 draws near, youth should embrace this opportunity to shape collective future of Europe, recognizing that every vote is a step towards a more democratic, united, and prosperous Europe.

Voting in EE24 is not just a right but a powerful tool for change. It allows youth to influence policies directly impacting their lives. Voting enables young people to enter the democratic arena, fostering a sense of belonging, responsibility, and civic engagement.  Beyond its historical significance, voting is the cornerstone of democracy, translating collective interests into tangible actions and ensuring diverse voices are heard in the political arena. As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, voting remains a potent force for driving positive change.  

Young people have consistently been underrepresented in politics. And with the crisis of population decline, this is likely to worsen. This opportunity to make youth voice heard means reminding politics that it has the duty of initiating policies that protect the present and the future as well. A move today can influence what will happen years from now.



[1] EU nationals carrying same conditions as Belgian citizens and residing in Belgium can vote in European Elections on 9 June.  Although Belgian citizens are automatically registered and there is no need for further registration, citizens of an EU Member State should register either online, filling out form C/1 via or they can obtain the form in the municipality they reside in before 31 March 2024. In this case they cannot vote in their home country.

[2] On 9 June 2024, 158 municipalities in the Flemish region, all municipalities in the Brussels-Capital Region, and the municipalities of the German-speaking Community will vote electronically with paper proof, while all municipalities in the Walloon Region and 150 municipalities in the Flemish Region will use the ‘paper’ vote. To find out whether you can vote electronically in your municipality consult, or contact your municipality’s elections office. 

[3] For further information please consult:

[4] Of course, non-participation can be caused by justified reasons. In this case, voting should be made through proxy or by contacting court of peace to declare motives of absence. Details can be found here: