Small or big, European is beautiful! These days, we hear very loud voices claiming that nationalism and a retreat into isolationism are the only valid answers to the challenges we are facing. We hear speeches on taking back control over money, laws and free movement, with little if no insight on the effects it will have on citizens.
When rhetorics, as we remember from our still very recent history, replace arguments and fears replace values, we are bound to slide towards violence. We witnessed it 104 years ago when the 1st World War started and then again 21 years later with the World War 2. Last month, in many of your centres all over Europe, you remembered and honoured those who died in the collapse of a world that failed to adjust and change.
"Perceiving the direction of history is really a question of vantage point. When we adopt the proverbial bird’s-eye view of history, which examines developments in terms of decades or centuries, it’s hard to say whether history moves in the direction of unity or of diversity. However, to understand long-term processes the bird’s-eye view is too myopic. We would do better to adopt instead the viewpoint of a cosmic spy satellite, which scans millennia rather than centuries. From such a vantage point it becomes crystal clear that history is moving relentlessly toward unity.", Yaval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
The European Union was born from those wars, from the fall of a world and the birth of a new one, based on cooperation between national states, the players that replaced empires, committed to pooling sovereignty in order to protect peace and foster wealth.
The EU is a project, alive and changing, advancing at the rhythm of the democratic choices of Europeans. Euroskeptics talk about "Brussels" and "unelected civil servants", but more than ever we need to remember that the EU is also and above all: around 517 millions of Europeans ; 24 languages; 113 000 cities and many more towns and villages; a European Parliament elected every 4 years and a Council that gathers the national elected representatives of the Member States.
Today Europeans from many different countries are triggering alarms concerning their involvement and understanding of the EU project, and we need to listen and react. How? One answer was given by the European Parliament a few weeks ago with a vote on the next budget that significantly increases the support for culture, education and youth. By sharing our evolving cultures, developing common cultural projects, and encouraging mobility and cooperation between our educational institutions, we can build a society that it is aware of its diversity and its benefits, strengthened by its heritage, sure of its values and open to change.
The European Union construction started as a Member States' project, an economic and later a political one, and it is growing up to be a European citizens' project. Today we have, each of us, to engage in this project and shape it to fit our dreams.