- Objective: showing the complexity behind stereotypes on Central and Eastern European countries and fostering unity across the arbitrary divides between Western and Central and Eastern Europe
- Target group: European youth aged 15-20
- How: creating entertaining and informative YouTube videos on Central and Eastern European countries
- Where: France, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania
Concerned about the pervasiveness of negative stereotypes of Central and Eastern Europe, the team behind EU2YOU aims to address such negative preconceptions by producing informative, yet entertaining, videos, which will be published on YouTube. The project aims to raise cultural awareness about the countries that have joined the EU during the last two decades – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania – producing one video per country. The videos will analyse each country’s cultural peculiarities and examine its political issues. The project will culminate with a video shot in Brussels, advancing the visibility of the work of young Eastern European decision-makers and activists. While the videos will be accessible to everybody, the project seeks specifically to spark discussion among young Europeans aged 15-20 – an age group which is highly present on YouTube. By focusing on such young Europeans, EU2YOU aims to foster an idea of a more cohesive and united Europe, emphasising the need to understand cultural, social and political complexities that transcend the simplifying and predominantly negative stereotypes communicated through the media and political discourses.
Stereotypes are part of people’s way to categorize and interpret the social world around them. In most cases, they are gross generalizations, comprising of simplistic narratives. Some of them can be harmless or even funny (ever heard of Italians always eating pasta, or Germans being obsessed with punctuality?), but some others can be truly toxic, reducing people and places to caricatures, feeding distrust and animosity. Brexit in the United Kingdom and the recent electoral discourses in different Western European countries have often contributed to reinforcing a set of stereotypes of Central and Eastern Europeans which are particularly problematic. In these narratives, ‘Polish plumbers’ are infiltrating the job market, and ‘Romanian thugs’ are threatening public order. The approaches of the Polish and Hungarian governments to the refugee crisis have also contributed at producing the image of a ‘xenophobic East’ in Western Europe. It is in this context that the EU2YOU team sets out to build a more cohesive Europe that is a home to all and where Central and Eastern Europeans are not perceived as second-class citizens. The project seeks to promote cultural awareness of the Central and Eastern European countries among young people through informative videos.
The EU2YOU team produced 10 videos, one for each of the Central and Eastern European Member States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania). The videos were scripted by the team, using a mix of computerised drawings and interviews and were published on the projects’ YouTube channel. The series of videos were concluded with a final short documentary shot in Brussels, featuring interviews with young Central and Eastern European decision-makers and activists. The project thus engaged in a two-way process of communication. First, it created a community on social media centred on learning about Central and Eastern European countries and cultures. Second, it brought into focus the young voices from these countries, offering a platform for them to express their visions and inform the audience about the need for a united Europe.
- Tuure-Eerik Niemi (Helsinki, Finland and Bruges, Belgium)
- Samson Son (Paris, France)
- Elisabetta Vitello (Rome, Italy)
From left to right: Samson, Tuure-Eerik and Elisabetta
Calendar of activities
For information on the project please contact Tuure-Eerik NIEMI:
 According to the research project ‘Here to Stay?’ almost half of the young Eastern Europeans living in the UK (49.2%) said that they had seen ‘more racism’.