Sunday, January 12, 2014

A message to my fellow Euro-philes.

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/editors-blog/2012/1029/Will-the-European-dream-continue
Ever since I moved to Ireland, Europe and European politics have become one of my main concerns and interests. For if it was not for the EU, I would have never moved to another country and change my life entirely.

So since I feel a citizen of Europe as well as a Greek national, for the past 8 years I have been actively engaging in debates in various political forums and platforms, as well as setting up my own blog and writing for other websites.

I strongly believe that if we want as citizens to have a more democratic and fair political system, either in our country or on a pan-European level, we got to actively participate and engage with politics and social issues. 

If we do not, then no change can take place and all decisions taken by our governments will be without not just our agreement, but our awareness too.

Because of the path I chose in life like my career, my love of travel and change of residence, I became a supporter and admirer of Europe and its culture, people, history and even politics. Thus being a "Euro-phile" or having a "pro-European, social/liberal and European federalist political agenda comes naturally and makes sense to me.

Once you leave your country of origin and move anywhere in our continent, you inevitably grow an awareness for everything that happens not just in your native or your country of residence, but in Europe in general as they all affect you directly.

Also to my amaze, there are plenty of other people with similar ideas or political views across Europe, either because they had similar life experiences, or simply because they are fascinated by everything that our continent represents and it has achieved during the past decades.

But now the "European Dream" due to the economic crisis that our continent is battling, but also because our ruling elites have highjacked the project to serve national or personal interests, has lost its appeal to a large number of European citizens.

Most of them do not believe in it anymore and even worse they have lost faith in democracy and other key European values, opting for supporting nationalist, populist and "Euro-skeptic" political groups or parties.

Europeans do not know who or what to believe anymore, or even if their participation and voting can make any difference on national but especially on European level.

All of us who still share the vision of a united continent, are acting as ambassadors of this idea. With our articles, actions, active participation and lifestyle, we can inspire others to start believing and engaging with European politics again.

But we also have a responsibility. Because our governments are not interested in explaining or including our fellow citizens in the EU project, it is up to various NGOs, social groups, think tanks but also ourselves to participate in debates and activities that will promote cosmopolitanism, pan-European-ism, and the creation of a European civil society.

It is also up to us, to criticize the EU and its institutions, but also the European politicians for their many failures. If we are not vigilant and critical of the EU then this role will be filled, as it has been so far, by the Euro-skeptic camp.

They are very successful in uncovering the EU's failures and we have got to admit that there are so many. Sadly it is only through their actions that we learn what is wrong in Europe right now and their attitude can be actually constructive in creating a better Europe.

Not that we have to share their views on the "solution" to the problem, by dismantling the EU and returning to a nationalist Europe. But we could use their arguments to underline the need for further European integration and present the citizens with the benefits of creating a pan-European political entity.

While it is acceptable to express anyone's passions and visions, stating in various social media platforms that we want to have a European federation "now", or that Europe should become one country without presenting or discussing the benefits that such solution would bring, we are risking of not being taken seriously.

Because the reality is that simply most of Europeans still maintain their nationality as their identity and they are following or are concerned for their national politics or social issues, more than they do for the European. They feel secure in their nation state, that they grew up in and know so well.

If we add to the mix the irresponsible immigration, economic and social policies that our governments have been pursuing the past decades, then it is easy to see why people are wary of anything progressive and liberal, that would change even further their way of life.

Together with the damage that the economic crisis has done by exposing the lack of coordination and cooperation among Europe's states, we have as result the majority of Europeans thinking of a European federation as something laughable or against their nation's interests.

People are simply not ready yet to accept a post nationalist Europe and who can blame them? The media and our governments have managed to totally distort any information about how the EU works and what it does, or can do for them.

So since it is partly up to people like us to play a decisive role in shaping the future of Europe, it would be very constructive not to direct our voice and opinion solely towards the European governments. They are not interested in reality in giving up the influence and monopolies they had enjoyed since the formation of Europe as we know it since WW2.

We should be focusing on the people instead and struggle to engage them with the European project in any way we can. Even by our lifestyle and actions we can encourage or inspire others to follow suit and adopt a more pro-European mentality.

If we manage to create a considerable pro-European movement, then with such strong support our governments will have no choice but to proceed with reforms and changes. Europe must be built from "bottom-up," and thus it is our fellow citizens that we must reach out to, not just Europe's politicians.

To create a Europe of citizens and not of corporations, we need Europeans themselves as the main component in creating the Europe we want. And it is ok if the the final result is not exactly what we would like, as long as we succeed in creating a more democratic Europe, with its citizens being fully aware and engaging with the EU project.

That is the legacy we must strive to achieve. Once Europeans learn how to work together, leaving behind blind nationalism, media propaganda and misconceptions about another, then history and time will look after the rest.

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