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EU programme for education, training, youth and sport

The Power of Words

Related priority: A new push for European democracy


Choosing words to heal instead of hate

With their global reach, digital platforms and social media can be powerful vehicles for democracy and freedom of speech. Yet they can also be used to undermine democracy through hate speech and disinformation.

The European Commission recognises these threats and is committed to protecting its citizens and institutions by making a new push for European democracy one of its key priorities.

The Erasmus+ programme is playing a special role in implementing this commitment, with its focus on young people, education and international mobility.

With support from Erasmus+, The Power of Words project used non-formal workshops, international exchanges and creative activities to raise young Europeans’ awareness about different forms and targets of hate speech and discrimination. Through the project they were able to challenge their own ideas about diversity and become better advocates for tolerance.

Disinformation generates interethnic conflicts that threaten peace

The Power of Words project brought together 30 young people from five EU countries (Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Turkey) in Romania over a 10-day period.

The mix of non-formal exercises and opportunities for social bonding gave these young people a chance to make friends with others from different European countries and cultures, and to confront their own stereotypes and pre-conceptions about ‘the other’.

The Power of Words project enabled participants to learn about each other’s national traditions first-hand.

A project diary revealed that each country has its own preferred targets for discrimination – such as people of a particular nationality, ethnic or religious minority. By learning to recognise the subtle ways in which hate and disinformation are spread, participants ended the week much better equipped to challenge these false ideas.

As well as Testimonials from participants, published on the Be You Association website, the project produced a powerful video, posters, flyers, leaflets, T-shirts, and other merchandise promoting tolerance.

Disinformation and online hate messages destabilise and weaken European democracy, generating interethnic conflicts that threaten peace. The project’s message of tolerance spread far beyond European borders, reaching young people in over 130 countries.

 - Ilona Bálint, Vice President of the Be You Association.

Project video

"We are living in a democratic society where one of the most important pillar is the right to freedom of speech."

Facts about the project

Public impact