On 23 June there is a vote (for the registered and legitimate) on the future of what can be said is the UK’s formal commitment to being European – a commitment to being more commercial, legal and political Europeans. It will, whatever way, change our lives. And these votes do change things. The French only just voted for the Maastricht Treaty  which set off this critical process that a united states of Europe was not the end objective for everyone. Critical thinking is allowed. When the French and Dutch voted against a formal European Constitution  – the youth vote strongly against – a more self-aware political atmosphere emerged in Brussels. Point made: the UK is not alone in negotiating the best for its people.
We don’t do referenda (the plural, I trust) a lot. We don’t vote much. We are usually one quarter minimum of us who could vote, not bothered.
Being part of Europe – certainly as seen from the Mir space station – we are going to make a decision in June based on what future we can see in this. For the older section of society, there are strong historic memories, made real by stories from relatives and friends, of the anarchic misery of world war and bitter armed conflict; masses of refugees and abject poverty. Not the current demise of Syria and its surrounding devastated neighbours, but the highways, lanes and rubble of Germany, France , Poland, other states, and many British cities. That memory may be rapidly fading, but it was a harsh reality from which the current ‘European Project’ grew. Apparently the key architect in it all Robert Schumann once said ‘if I could do it again I would have started, not with trade, but with education’.
Current perceptions clash – Europe a capitalist playground quick to exploit and ignore rights; or a hamstrung, bloated bureaucracy full of idealism and lacking direction. And a variety of opinion in- between.
The raft of opinion polls seem to tell us that the biggest question for the voter is : What’s in it for me – for my family? Those polls also tell us that nearly 20% of us are committed internationalists; as much for European partnerships as we are for the UN, UNICEF and the rest of those complex, basically idealistic structures. So how do we form these opinions?
Most often from our own experience. Thousands of organisations – Momentum World strongly among them – are committed to offering young people a genuine understanding through practical encounters on what other Europeans think, know and feel about us, and us, about them. From that you can take your prejudice and opinion.
The coming Europeers programme will bring straight talking tales of real European experience delivered by those who have been and done it , to those who have not yet got there. Get involved; make a statement about your future. On June 23 – do it from what you know, not what you are told to fear.
Gordon Blakely, Momentum World Senior Adviser