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Europe: More Than a Treaty

Tomorrow, citizens across Europe commemorate the signature of the Treaty of Rome 60 years ago. This commemoration comes at a decisive moment for our continent. The European project is, more than ever since the signature of its founding treaty, in need of a new direction and of courageous people to take us there. When the Treaty of Rome was signed, its signatories did not delve in the past. They gazed into the future and took radical measures to shape it in a way that would benefit millions. In that spirit, this is what we will do tomorrow as well.

 

We must not underestimate the benefits the European project has brought us. A long period of relative peace within the Union, the tearing down of barriers and massive freedom of movement, and a sense of community reinforced by common decision-making and common rights.

 

But the project does not end there, nor are these elements functioning nowadays. Europe continues to export conflicts and suffering beyond its borders. A Fortress Europe of unprecedented proportions has been erected that intends to keep people fleeing those conflicts from getting in. Participation in shaping our common future is alarmingly low and decision-making is increasingly hijacked by demagogues and right-wing populists who have no intention to construct anything positive nor take responsibility for where they try to take us.

 

We are responsible. We are serious. We know what is at stake.

 

There is a large scientific consensus about the very likely catastrophic consequences of climate change. Our generation can still do something about it. The next generation might not even have that choice. Yet decision-makers engage in trivialities and refuse to take responsibility for the societies they pretend to lead. A European project that does not take climate change seriously nor puts in place ambitious and effective measures for climate justice is absolutely void of meaning for our or any coming generation.

At the same time, people are dying in masses on Europe's borders. Year after year tells us a grimmer story about the size of the mass grave in the Mediterranean. Simultaneously, demagogic politicians in every part of Europe try to score easy points with scaremongering, with shameless lies about imaginary threats, with no understanding of the darkest moments of Europe's own history. Our Europe is not this spineless, tragic farce that we see unfolding with every Farage, Le Pen or Orbán. Our Europe bears its responsibility for preventing and alleviating human tragedies like the one we are witnessing now, and is a safe haven for people who are displaced for one reason or another.

Lastly, we cannot ignore the lack of perspectives that young people are facing across Europe today. This is not inevitable, this is a result of a lack of political willingness to ensure that young people have a future. We are all responsible for changing this. It is a collective failure of our societies to wipe out the hope for a decent future of an entire generation. The European project will not be recognised as a positive force by its youth if it does not manage to distribute hope, opportunities and wellbeing to every young person in all parts of the continent. We demand a European basic income as a first step in the needed direction.

 

We will march in Rome and elsewhere tomorrow because we believe in a European project and in a common future for all Europeans. Treaties are important. Flags can unite us. But we do not need more empty words from any gutless political leaders. What Europe needs more than anything right now is a common direction and a good dose of courage. We all owe it to those who come after us.