Envisioning Europe

United Kingdom EU referendum 2016 area results 2So the UK has voted to leave the EU. They didn’t like it any more to be a member. It was a democratic decision and like all democratic decisions, we all have to deal with it and take the consequences – whatever they might be.

I think we need to look into the future, the past is past and cannot be changed.

And while some speculated today about the UK being „ripped apart“, as Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and London voted „Remain“, it is not the business of us who stay in the EU to decide upon all that. It’s the business of the Scots, Northern Irish, Gibraltans and Londoners.

As Europeans, we have to think about what to do with this Europe of ours.

Sidenote: With „Europe“ I do mean the EU here. That is not to say Great Britain wasn’t part of geographical Europe.It is and remains part of this subcontinent, just like Belarus, Transnistria or Crimea.

We need some kind of vision,or greater idea of Europe. The founders seem to have had this as a community of nations that live together in freedom, peace and wealth.

Back then they didn’t have either. They have lived in the 2nd World War, maybe even seen the 1st, they have seen how nationalism and dictatorships lead the whole subcontinent into destruction.

One can guess that this is a very impressive experience that you would want to avoid for your self and your children and you children’s children’s children…

Lucky as we are, we lack this experience. Maybe we don’t value this anymore, the peace and wealth and freedom we have – relatively to the rest of the world!

We see the burden: before all bureaucracy in Brussels and almost incomprehensible paths legislation takes there. Things do happen and we hardly understand why and on which grounds. And then we end up in blaming Greeks for supposingly wasting our money or blaming Germans for the austerity policy.

We do not act like one people, with supporters of different political ideas everywhere, but like several people fighting each other for the benefit of the own people (whether or not we in our class within our people would also benefit – and not only those in another class).

One could talk about every kind of political issue but I want to talk about structures.

I think what we need are transparent and democratic structures within the EU. So that everyone knows how laws come into existence and doesn’t feel like being controlled by others (you know, that „monster in Brussels“).

After all, it’s us who vote our national governments and our representatives in the European Parliament.

I heard that campaigners for both sides in Britain named numbers of costs and benefits from EU membership without anybody being able to confirm or repudiate. I think people should be able to check upon whether politicians do tell the truth or make things up. This would also be a strong weapon against populism of any kind, just saying.

I also think the European Parliament should have more power, at least the power to start legislation itself, and not having to wait for other European Institutions to do so. And the power to decide upon every law, like any other national Parliament within the EU.

People need to see that they are part of the whole thing and that they do actually have a say with their vote.

And then we need a narrative. The narrative of peace and wealth might still work. Maybe the narrative of how today people of the different nations cross borders and meet people from neighbouring countries like it’s the most normal thing to do, even to live there if you please. And I speak of ordinary people, not the small elites who always had the freedom to travel to other countries, learn their language and have friends there, maybe even finding their spouse.

Maybe we’d also have to celebrate it more, living in peace and being so close to one another. Is there yet a day of European Unity?

I grew up in a uniting Europe, I did benefit a lot from integration. I remember the border controls when I was a child, and how these affected life. How you always had to change money when crossing the border and what to do with the foreign coins you had left when you came back and that no bank would exchange back (I also remeber stickers in the windows of shops that read „Nous acceptons des Francs Francaises“ – translated „We accept French Francs“, but that was only in the last years before we got the Euro).

It hurts to see Europe being ripped apart, although I do think one has to respect the democratic decisions of peoples. Borders will be closed again. Nationalisms will continue to be on the rise. And I am afraid that when a war and the will to overcome that danger stood at the beginning of the process of European integration, what will be waiting for us in the end after European disintegration.

It is our obligation to shape our future and it is necessary to develop a vision of the future to do so. What is your vision?

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