2012: Nobel Peace Prize goes to the European Commission. The political Party “Chrisi Aygi” rises in Greece. Pepe Grillo in Italy. Marie Lepen in France. How do all these seem? What is the real Europe? Who are the Europeans? How do they think? How do they live? What do they dream of?
In 1957, Robert Schuman said: “Europe was not united and we had war.”
Now in 2013, Europe has not been completed, trying to redefine her common policy and the global society is characterized by poverty and by the Memorandum enforcement in many European countries. Is the South in German “occupation”? The lazy citizens of the South, as they are characterized, are responsible for everything or the cruel policy of the North is to blame? Is it possible that Greeks with an unemployment rate of 60% or more to look at Europe in the same way as Germans do?
The game is not played on an equal footing throughout Europe. The heterogeneity and differences are big. Additionally, human right are being stepped on, many people live in terrible conditions, while others remain unaffected. Is someone who has lost his job or his house capable of feeling like a European citizen? The European Institutions (Troika) is a visible enemy in this EU and the ECB. How are you supposed to tell all these people that they are European citizens and that 2013 is the Year of the European Citizen?
Is there any vision or hope for the future? Can this property provide food, house, clothes, or the right to live? Paraphrasing the words of Fr. Schiller: “Give me to eat, to dwell, cover my nakedness and then dignity would come alone.” I strongly believe that if Europe gives to her citizens all of the above, then European citizens will be born.
20 years have almost passed since the Maastricht Treaty (Article 8-1992- nationality) and the European citizens have seen almost no difference. The laws and the promises are good, but it is difficult become actions, to change everyday life, to enrich lives.
Freedom of movement, freedom to work, to exchange ideas, to travel freely, the European Ombudsman, diplomatic protection, participation in the European process are utopic for many people. European values, human rights, the sense of belonging, and European identity exist in the declarations, in the resolutions but they are absent from the lives of the European citizens. The charter of fundamental rights and obligations of European citizens exists but how many people are aware of its existence?
Although Europe wants to make progress, can she? Have the citizens themselves searched for their European identity?
I asked many friends, relatives, neighbors, and myself and I uploaded a charter online at answers.yahoo.com (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130601132032AApJFGA) for European citizens and European citizenship.
Conclusion: A lot of great indifference, ignorance and partly disappointment. The European vision, the many of rights, the advantages of European identity and European citizenship are hardly known, unlike the Delors’ package, the memorandums and Troika. As a result, people do not realize how important it is to be a European citizen and only focus on the negative and degrade this identity. (Characteristically, the majority in my research wrote that they are “not satisfied”). A comment of a user-in my astonishment- said that “being a European citizen is like the tragic event of the Titanic”. Something must be done so that Europe and its citizens may communicate.
We must all change. Greeks, Germans, French, Swedish and other citizens need to overcome national, spiritual and territorial boundaries and become Europe’s citizens, global citizens with a common vision. At the same time, there is the need for union in diversity, freedom, equality, social justice, universal values. It needs organization. It needs work. The key to every development is the European Citizen. We should not be afraid but we have to start the journey. Let 2013, the Year of the European Citizen, be the beginning of a great beginning. We need action and participation. Together we will reshape Europe of people, the Europe we want. The fate depends on the ideas of young people as Goethe says. Young people should have the leading role.
Furthermore the European Union will have to gain the trust of informed and active citizens, to balance the gap of peoples to lift injustice and to establish a European vision, human values. Also, needs to formulate, with the cooperation of national governments, the identity of European citizens through the textbooks of primary school to the university books, media, literature and cinema. Finally, Europe has to create opportunities, prospects and a promising future for its citizens, but they should be able to take these opportunities and become an integral part of that future.
Botsi Vassiliki – Student of International and European Studies
University of Piraeus