With the European Elections being over, one can only sit there and wonder: What the hell, people? Right wing parties are on the rise. Be it in the UK, France or Denmark. Are we about the revert to pre-EU times? Will one of the best political projects of the past 60 years be over soon?
We’re A Bit Heavy On The Numbers Here
Being a very optimistic and open person, I’ve never understood, how people can resort to the idea, that it’s better to isolate yourself or your country from the rest of the world. That has never worked out well. Don’t believe me? Then please remind me of how North Korea is doing again.
Unfortunately for every person in their right mind, a lot of right-wing parties have succeeded in the elections. Front National in France (25 %), Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party) (23 %) or the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (Freedom Party of Austria) (20.5 %) – to name a few. In Poland, a party called Kongres Nowej Prawicy (Congress of the New Right) got 7.2 % of the votes. After the elections, their leader openly admitted he wanted to dismantle the EU from the inside.
All these parties (and some more, which I’ve not included here) are set out to withdraw their country’s membership from the EU and therefore abolish the idea of an open society, which guarantees freedom and security for its citizens.
Where are these numbers coming from? Why are the people who have enjoyed all the benefits of the European Union for over 50 years (give or take a few decades, depending in which country you live in) suddenly resort to politics, that have no other goal than to eliminate these freedoms?
The campaigns of the victorious right-wing parties often included dull paroles to fuel voter’s fears. Fears of what? A crumbling economy, loss of national sovereignty and foreigners. Are these valid fears? Far from it!
Europe VS. The EU
Before we go on, we have to distinguish what we mean when we talk about Europe. Are we talking about the political construct with all its rules and regulations or is it the idea of a continent, where its inhabitants enjoy a multitude of freedoms and benefits?
When we talk about the EU, we talk about the construct. A political necessity, that needed to be put in place to coordinate a continent with over 500 million people, a diverse selection of cultural backgrounds and countless world views. Without the EU, the Europe that we know today, could not function properly and would immediately collapse.
Europe is an idea. Born from the rubble of the Second World War. An idea that was put into place to secure resources and to make sure that the continent would never again have to go through the hell of war. Over the years it has grown into something new. A political power that enables its individual states to be heard in the world and that provides its citizens with rich cultures to explore and new ideas to try.
One For All, All For One
The era of individual states within the EU is not over, no matter what it’s critics say. However, there are global issues, that are way too big to be handled by one nation alone. No country can battle climate change or international drug trafficking on their own. Certain rules and guidelines need to be in effect to be efficient.
Now, of course, one could ask, why the UK should care about the energy politics of Germany or France about Poland’s war on drugs. Because, believe it or not, it affects all countries. Great Britain could produce green energy as much as it wanted, without the other members having similar rules, it would still be subject to extreme weather conditions due to climate change. The same goes for all other transnational problems. No one is left behind!
Money, Money, Money
The economy of most of the members of the EU has never been better since the introduction of a common currency. In fact, the trading volume of the EU has more than doubled.
What about the high unemployment rate in some countries (e.g. Spain, Greece). Isn’t that an indicator for the EU failing? No!
The financial crisis of 2008 affected the world’s economy and was not caused by the EU but by mismanagement, corruption within the individual states and also the world banking system. While it can be argued, that the financial system of the EU is far from perfect, it has certainly withstood this crisis for the most part and was (and still is) able to help its members whose economy plummeted.
I know about the common argument, that a lot of people don’t appreciate paying for others without getting anything in return. Sorry, but this believe is total BS! Yes, the members of the EU pay for the (sometimes self-imposed) debts of others. But the EU is not doing that for mere philanthropic reasons. Of course these countries are expected to contribute to the economic wealth, once their debts are paid – just like you expect somebody to pay you back, when you’ve given them money or done them a favor. Sounds fair, doesn’t it?
An Idea Worth Fighting For
The political history of the EU and Europe is unparalleled! You can travel from the icy shores of Finland to the sandy beaches of Greece without ever showing your passport once! Within hours of travel you’re exposed to different cultures, you can decide to settle anywhere in between, live and work there or just enjoy the scenery!
Feel like staying at home? Fine! Nobody is forcing you to leave what you know and hold dear. You don’t have to fear about a neighboring nation deciding to invade your perfect little world. That too is secured by the EU.
100 years ago Europe was engulfed in the flames of the First World War. Only years later a second war devastated the continent again. 25 years ago a peaceful revolution ended the Cold War and opened up countless new possibilities for all Europeans. We live on a continent, that enjoys the longest time of uninterrupted peace in all of its history! All thanks to the EU!
There are voices who want to shut this great political achievement down. Just because they are afraid! Afraid that they lose their voice (no, they won’t), that they lose their power (told you, not true!) and that too many foreigners come to their countries and take their jobs. This is an issue I will only tackle briefly, because the whole notion of this is total and utter nonsense.
Let me put it this way: If an untrained refugee from a war zone comes to your country and takes away your job, then you weren’t so good in what you were doing in first place!
Europe is more than a big bureaucratic institution! It’s the idea, that everyone can live life to the fullest, can practice whatever religion (if any) he or she believes in and enjoy a level of freedom that most people in the world only dream about! Parties who fight the EU, fight the European idea! They would like to see their countries isolated from the rest of the world, because they are afraid that everybody and everything outside of their borders wants to destroy them. This ideology is not only hopelessly outdated but also dangerous – just think of what nationalism did to Europe in the middle of the 20th century!
Is that a world you would like to live in?