The best way to combat disenchantment with politics is to bring the issues to where the young people hang out! Or?

Imagine you are throwing a party and inviting all of Europe’s young people to it – and only six people stray to your concert. It would be nice to call such an event a flop. But that is exactly what is said to have happened to the European Commission.

On November 29, 2022, the EU invited to a joint beach party. Anyone with a computer was invited – because the “Global Gateway Gala” took place in virtual space, also known as the Metaverse. The problem: Probably nobody knew about it, because one of the guests reported that only a handful of other people logged in at the agreed time. Specifically, there is talk of only five other people.

Vince Chadwick summed up his devastating experience on Twitter: “I’m here at the ‘Gala’ concert at the €387,000 metaverse of the EU External Action Department (designed to attract non-politically engaged 18-35 year olds – see story below) . After initial confused conversations with about five other people who came, I’m alone.”

Generation Tiktok should be enthusiastic about politics

The concert in question was originally supposed to be the summit of an EU campaign at which the countless young people, now convinced of politics, should really party again. The EU apparently paid a lot for this lure for the Tiktok and Instagram generation. Chadwick writes in a detailed report on “Devex” that the platform for the “Global Gateway” program devoured a total of 387,000 euros.

When asked by stern, the costs for the project could not be confirmed spontaneously, but wanted to comment on this at a later date. However, a spokeswoman explained why the EU chose this form of multimedia outreach: “We think that the Metaverse is an innovative approach to reach young people. But of course the user interface could have been made more user-friendly and engaging . The platform works better than our static, traditional websites.”

“Devex” reports that the Metaverse project caused a lot of trouble internally. Sources from the responsible department described the virtual world as “embarrassing” or “digital garbage”, others only said a desperate “Jesuuuuus”.

Since the concert was apparently not a “tear-out party”, the “Global Gateway” platform can still be visited – the party continues around the clock. To start, you have to create an artificial character, which is something like a cross between a paper clip and those long balloons that you make dogs out of and stuff like that. Once that is done, you can join the virtual chat room, provided there is enough space. This can be done without installing software, simply in the browser.

“It’s too early for a final verdict”

In addition to the beach party, you can watch videos of the EU Commission, view art installations and walk on water. Comparable virtual worlds already existed around 20 years ago, but it is questionable whether their implementation was just as expensive.

“Devex” asked those responsible what the internal conclusion was. The answer was short and they said: “Since the program is still running, it is too early to judge.” However, the commission informed the star: “The first results of the campaign are encouraging with a reach of almost 86 million users in social media.” What is meant by this, however, is the reach across all channels of the campaign, which has been running since October. It is not known what part the virtual playground, which the makers call “Global Gateway Hub”, played in this.

The 3D chat is part of a larger initiative that, according to the EU, aims to help “tackle the most pressing global challenges – from climate change to better health systems to strengthening competitiveness and global supply chains”. As part of this, “Team Europe, i.e. the EU institutions and the EU Member States” wants “up to EUR 300 billion in investments” in the next five years in the areas of “digital, climate and energy, transport, health, education and mobilize research”. The “Handelsblatt” recently called the “Global Gateway” “Europe’s billion bluff”.