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Europe's Ruins, Europe's Hope

Today is Europe Day. It is an occasion to take a good look at the ruins of the Europe we knew. It is a sad sight, but we have not lost hope.

The powerful politicians and bureaucrats who have shamelessly brought Europe to the mess we are in now are still not done. Their blind logic of austerity, of deprivation and of profound inequality is still prevalent in policies that affect youth, students, working people, people in precarious situations, pensioners, migrants and many others. Most of us have less optimistic outlooks than we had a decade ago. The faceless proponents of a Europe of austerity, with their dogma of "there is no alternative, did not listen when so many people told them that taking away from those who already did not have much would not be a remedy.

Alternatives emerge, and some of them call for even more destruction. Populists and extremists on the right have fared well in elections since the crisis started. We thought that appealing to old racist emotions and making scapegoats out of people who appear different, talk different or worship different is something we supposedly had left behind us. A lot of work is needed to crush racism and fascism, as traditional parties - the self-declared political center - are steadily picking up on the rhetorics and policies of the far right.

These two projects - the neoliberal one and the reactionary one - feed one another and lead to the same outcome: the destruction of Europe.

Europe is not an end in itself, especially if it brings about more inequality than equality. Europe is a project that can channel aspirations for shared prosperity, for societies where human rights and dignity still have a meaning, for peace at home and on our borders, and for building something together. This is why we are attached to Europe.

In the midst of an unprecedented accumulation of crises - the refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, the social fabric being torn down by cuts and austerity, the United Kingdom on the brink of abandoning the Union, and our decision-makers struggling to respond to the climate urgency - we still believe there is hope.

There is a progressive, beautiful Europe. It is not making much noise about itself, but it has been gaining strength recently. We are building that Europe. We are building it from below, with other like-minded activists, movements and parties. Together we are protecting our social rights, we are welcoming people fleeing wars and persecution, we are liberating our cities and our economies from fossil fuels, we are putting an end to opaque and destructive trade agreements. We are regaining control over our lives. We bring people together.

This is the essence of our European project. And despite serious efforts to undermine that Europe, we will continue fighting for it, today and every other day of the year.