ANDREA VENZON on why now, more than ever, it is important to mark Europe Day and all that it stands for.
This same day, 69 years ago, the French foreign minister Robert Schuman delivered a speech in which he imagined the creation of a European coal and steel community, to make war between European nations unthinkable. Just 5 years after the most devastating war of all times.
Today, we are spoiled. We can debate lengthily about which kind of cooperation we prefer among European nations, only because a few decades ago wise women and men had the courage to put aside their differences, turn away from centuries of rivalry and bloody conflict, and put their efforts into chasing away the phantom of war from this continent. The European Union has many flaws, but not even the hardest brexiter could deny that our grandfathers were fighting each other. How amazing that today – as a young Italian – I can stand as a candidate for the European elections right here in London.
This is a modern miracle, but sadly it is not a given. The European project has been built with the hard work of millions of committed Europeans, but the same forces that were defeated 70 years ago are today are on the rise across the continent and might well wipe it away. Volt, the first pan-European party, was founded as a political project by young Europeans to lead the fight back. We now number 30,000 supporters in 30 countries across the continent with an average age of 33 and we are are reclaiming our future.
Britons, who have fought throughout their history to create trade routes across the globe, to connect different people, and to liberate our own continent from the scourge of nationalism, should not be silent actors in this disgraceful play either. We will rise as Europeans, and strongly oppose the tensions that are spreading tentacle-like through society to rebuild walls, fuel anger, and break the “unity in diversity” motto that has made our continent thrive.
We are one people, and we shall never forget it. There are no treaties, no deals, that will ever tear apart the common values that the UK and the rest of the European continent share. There is no political rhetoric that will be able to tear down the spirit that 70 years of peace and freedom of movement have infused in all of us.
That is why, today more than ever, it is fundamental to showcase symbols of unity that speak about our common history, our common hopes, and our common future. As a candidate for the European elections, I decided to do my best to bring a strong symbol to the people of London: next Monday, millions of citizens will receive a European passport. A simple document, which perfectly embodies what Europe is: not an institution, but the most tangible sign of the common destiny that EU nationals and residents share now and forever. If you happen to be one of the first Londoners to receive the leaflet, please share it wherever you can: the #blEUpassport can be the symbol of unity, solidarity, and mutual understanding that we most need in these challenging times.
Today is also your day to take action. Whether you are an affluent Pimlico resident, a police officer from Enfield, or an EU-expat chef, you must know that the decision that will be taken on May 23rd (European elections day) it will impact your life, whether the UK leaves the European Union the day after, many months later, or never. Why? Because the people you are voting into the European Parliament, might actually stay there for 5 years. They will have the power to substantially influence EU policy-making in the future, and the destiny of our whole continent. Voting to send tens of anti-EU MEPs to Brussels will not only deprive the UK of any marginal benefit that the country could “extract” from the EU – EU funds allocation, cooperation with other member states, etc. – but also harm the whole continent, given that the work of the Parliament will be heavily affected. The UK has been a champion in cooperation for decades: first by fighting totalitarianism and freeing many European countries, then by continuously re-affirming its openness to trade and diplomacy. I do not believe that many citizens of this country will want to go down in history as the generation that has blocked the European parliament from operating for years.
On this Europe Day let’s remember where we came from, and make sure that we are protecting our future by fighting for our shared home, Europe. Politicians and parties will come and go, but the spirit that our grandfathers have forged shall always be protected.