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May 26

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Quo Vadis EU?

The EU without borders - how long?

The EU without borders – for how long?

First of all, the bad news. The European Parliament moved to the right. Far right. The Landslide victory of the Independence Party in the UK, Front National in France, People’s Party in Denmark and some smaller right-wing and populist parties in the other EU member states, has the potential to make the EU less tolerant and open than the one we are enjoying at the moment. This is very bad, because these are the traits that make the EU so different from Putin’s dictatorship that the EU sees itself confronted with at the moment. But maybe we got so used to the freedom we enjoy every day that we forget to appreciate it anymore. Now, during the debates in the European Parliament, we will much more often hear about “them” and “us” – them, who come to our countries, cities and villages to abuse our social system, take away our jobs and impose on us their religion, and “us”, hardworking, preferably white, heterosexual Europeans, who NEVER take advantage of the unemployment benefits or parental allowances. Some of us may however soon find themselves among…. “them” – as soon as another scapegoat will be needed. Much less will we hear about real solutions to the problems we are facing: economic crisis and climate change (according to UKIP not human made). As soon as we get rid of “them” everything will be fine…

And here is the good news: sooner or later Europeans will realize, that the simple solutions offered by the populists do not solve the problems. Sending a few East European families back to their home countries will not save our budgets. Blatant lies and ignorance of the facts, of which UKIP’s Leaflet is best example, will not make the greatest threat our civilization has ever faced disappear. Democracy is a lesson and European voters now have another five years to learn. Hopefully this time we will all be slightly more into the subject.

But the damage has been done. 75 years after the beginning of the 2nd World War a member of the neo-Nazi NPD from Germany will get a seat in the European Parliament. One out of 751, but still one too many. The New Right from Poland, a party, whose leader Jan-Korwin Mikke purports, women are more stupid than men and should be deprived of voting rights and gay people will one day share the fate of Jews during the 2nd World War, will be represented by three MEPs. Luckily they, and others of similar type with limited intellectual resources, will not be able to effectively affect the European policy. But nonetheless they should be treated as our homework and task for the next five years: to understand why thousands of Europeans decided to waste their right to choose their representatives and vote for those, who would like to throw Europe seventy years back. Maybe a sightseeing trip to Auschwitz would be a good start.

But the European leaders are also to blame for the increased popularity of the populists, euroskeptics and right wing extremists. To avoid transferring too much power to the European level, back in 2009 the leaders of the EU member states sent lackluster politicians to Brussels. What we desperately need now is another Jacques Delors, who will lead, instead of just following – the latter was the specialization of Manuel Barroso. With the EU increasingly staying behind in most areas, among other the fight against climate change, and most of the time unable to take a clear position on anything, we need someone who will show Europeans, what the EU is all about: not the curvature of the cucumber or the size of bananas, but about tolerance, openness and peace. Hopefully we don’t need to lose it to appreciate it again.

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