Did we take the EU for granted?

June 25, 2016 · Brexit Europe

June 24th 2016 was a sad day, but I don't want to bash the rosbif today. Not today. Let's speak about me... and you instead.

I am old enough to have lived with closed European borders, but honestly I don't remember ever waiting there to cross. My youth has been made of eventual trips across borders inside the European Union: Austria, Portugal & Scotland to name a few. How was yours?

For the past few years, the speaker bio I send to conferences and the short section about me on this blog (here on the left if you are reading this directly on my homepage) states "French born European child" and I truly mean it. How do you feel?

From the Second World War, I only heard Stories that made me appreciate peacetime a lot better. And as awful as those stories were, my grand-fathers certainly took the worst ones with them in their graves. I now live in Nürnberg, a city with a horrendous Nazi history and where remnants of this past are explicitly hidden in plain sight for everyone to remember: never again.

I've only known the world with a stable Europe, with free traveling for people and goods. I grew up with European "au pairs" like Kathy from Germany and Ima from Spain who I both remember well ; as well as Jayne, the British Tutor who lived with us for a whole year and became a good friend of my younger sisters.

Universities and the Erasmus Programme are so much what I experienced, that "l'auberge espagnole" sounds almost like a documentary than a movie.

I didn't have to scratch my head long to find a dozen friends whose spouses are not originating from the same country or who have durably been living abroad, in the EU.

Finally, of course, my wife is German, we now live in Germany and together we gave birth to two little Europeans.

What is your contact with Europe?

If I consider my 30-years-old-college-educated-non-representative circles, Europe is and is not to be broken again. Or is it?

I've been thinking. A lot. Before and after the #Brexit. And yesterday, I read the following:

Tweet capture

Which in English means:

Cameron has been badmouthing EU for years. This is the result. Are we doing better? Or is our European generation simply screwing up? #Brexit

I plead guilty as charged, I have taken the EU for granted.

I know what I can thank the EU for and I know that most of the so called "problems" that are set on EU's back are either misunderstandings, lies or simply for the "greater good". I love being a member of the European Union and would like it even more if we finally came to join forces for real in something resembling a "United States of Europe" (just imagine how many medals we'd get at the Olympics :P). I know all this, the strength and freedom it gave us, and I have been enjoying it very much (thank you). I have seen so much good in this EU, that I cannot imagine a little shitstorm topple this great institution, however shaky, counter intuitive or even annoying it may be. I have taken EU for granted and simply thought that once my generation will have taken over, things will change, we just need time.

But it's like everything good - say oxygen - it's once it's almost gone that you realize how dearly you loved it. Can we rely on time only?

So this question goes to the 30-something-European-fanatics-like-me: beside marrying foreigners, living abroad and making sure the next generation will be a melting pot of blood, cultures and nationalities, what can we do to ensure a joint future? What can we do to promote a (not necessarily "the") EU? What can we do to prevent Euroscepticisme? What can we do to push Europe back on the right tracks?

So, did you - like me - take Europe for granted?

Img Source: Patrick Chappatte, @PatChappatte on Twitter,

Comments powered by Disqus