When we asked all of our pan European team to write a personal statement about what Europe and the EU means to them to celebrate Europe day, we didn’t expect the great amount of wonderful articles. It was a pleasure to read opinions of fellow European citizens using Europa United in the best possible way to voice their experiences, hopes and dreams regarding Europe. And I want to join in with my personal ‘state of the Union’.
Why every day is Europe day for me
When we started Europa United, the UK had just decided to leave us and this came as a shock for me. Living in Germany in a region next to France, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Italy, I never even considered that so many British are not feeling and sensing the ‘EU spirit’ every day.
I love to jump into my car and to go shopping in France and Luxembourg without a need to care and worry about a traffic jam at the border control or to exchange money. And I can remember very well the times when I had to care because a trip from Trier, Germany to Wasserbillig, Luxembourg meant at least one hour waiting at the border controls.
Abandoned border post at Wasserbillig Highway bridgeBut apart from travelling without problems and even working on some occasions in Luxembourg the most important thing for me is that I feel at home there now. As a child and student I have experienced some resentments towards my person as I am German. The scars of the past are fading. And I am grateful that I have been able to see this happening during my lifetime. The French and Germans are still mocking each other but the intentions changed. We are trusting each other and there will be no war because of “Is Alsace German or French” anymore. We are Europeans now and are sharing peace and enjoy the things we have in common but also our diversity.
But my question is, why are people not aware that the EU is working?
We are enjoying a unique time of peace and prosperity in Europe since the EU was founded. Of course it is a work in progress and we can and should try to constantly improve it but we have been working on it now only for just seventy years and this is a short time regarding how much time we have spent fighting and killing each other over the past centuries.
The EU means peace and freedom for me
Every day reminds me how lucky I am to live in the EU. I never met one of my grandfathers because both of them died at war. I have never met my mother’s real family and without a protestant couple adopting her right at the hospital were she was born, I would not be here too today. It is up to us to keep the peace, the tolerance and freedom. The EU is nothing but a frame of treaties giving people the right and possibility to fill this frame with life. Every day we can decide where we want to go – back to nationalism and war or forward towards more union and solidarity.
Let’s work on it. We are doing great and we have no reason to hide what we have achieved together so far.
What I wish for in future
A better education for all Europeans regarding EU institutions, achievements and treaties. And please make it fun! Let all Europeans have a free trip to Strasbourg and Brussels, not only some of the young via a free inter-rail ticket.
A free to air European TV channel showing our diversity, everyday European life and presenting EU projects, debates and results.
A bigger common budget and more money spent on Citizens. We need more social inclusion every where in Europe. Spend more on cohesion projects. Bring regions and people together at a civil society level.
Stop funding countries which are openly denying our common values. Fund our members who are doing crucial work for human rights instead by taking in refugees for example. Give the money to Italy and Greece and support them with all they need to keep going.
A French-German federation. And include Luxembourg and all other member countries who want to join. We always had a ‘multi-speed’ EU with members opting in and out of common projects. Don’t stop because some are not ready and maybe never will be.
Make the EU more transparent. Stop secret ‘trialogues’ between the Commission, the Parliament and the council. Give the European parliament more power and make the decision processes more open and understandable.
And last but not least: More European Citizens feeling at home in Europe and engaging for it. Because Europe and the EU is what we make out of it. Raise your voice and your flags, engage and be a part of the change you want to see.
We are all Europa.