For me, Europe is like home. I feel quite comfortable in its every corner. Obviously, there are ‘rooms’ that I prefer more than others, but no matter where I am, the same level of safety is guaranteed. I felt it in frosty Kiruna as well as in sunny Rome. It is natural that what you love most about your home is your own room. The same applies to me. However, even when I was a small child, I was fully aware that a bathroom, a kitchen and a parent’s bedroom were also necessary. Europe also consists of many different ‘rooms’. Each of them in separation from others would have no greater meaning, but together they form a safe and comfortable place.
Not every home is perfect. Some rooms require renovation, some only refreshment and others are quite acceptable for its inhabitants. It is necessary however that every inhabitant takes care of his or her home as whole. In my opinion Europeans too often tend to forget about this rule driven by particular interests of their own countries. It seems pointless to install a new heating system in your room, if there is no window in the kitchen.
As inhabitants of the same ‘home’ we should do everything to keep it tidy, safe and comfortable. We cannot forget, however, that around us are other ‘homes’ with their own aspirations, needs and demands. We should keep in mind that perhaps one day we will live in a common ‘home’.
What I don’t like about the EU is overregulation. As a lawyer, sometimes I feel very bad thinking about the tons of pages of regulations, directives, decisions and sentences of the European Court of Justice, which are a part of the EU law. It seems to me that every area that could be interpreted as having an impact on the Single European Market was covered with detailed articles and paragraphs. Obviously, it is very good for lawyers and probably I should not complain about it as more people need my services? But no, once again I am thinking about those tons of pages of regulations, directives, decision, sentences etc. and there is a lot to complain about.
One of the most striking examples that probably many European Union citizens are not aware of – a carrot is a fruit. Pursuant to the EU regulations a carrot is a fruit! When I first heard about it, I thought to myself: ‘Come on. Really?’. In my opinion it is a pure contradiction of the Single European Market and all freedoms underlying the European Union. Obviously, I am fully aware that such regulations were created due to powerful lobbying, but there have to be some limits. Very detailed regulations can only hinder the economic growth and the free trade.
I would like the EU to go back to its roots in scope of the regulatory activity, but I guess it is not possible within the current EU frames.
I vote because it is one of possibilities of shaping the reality surrounding me. Not everyone has enough time to take actively take part in the political life. For me there are many more important aspects of life such as work, family, hobbies or studies. Nonetheless it is not a great sacrifice to vote every two or three years. The only problem is to choose the proper political option for yourself and a proper candidate, who is efficient enough to change the reality surrounding you for the better. But if you follow politics at least a little, this should not be a great challenge.
In my opinion, a person who fails to vote in a general election is not entitled to complain about politics. As I said before, it is not a great sacrifice to vote every two or three years. Still with a turnout usually not exceeding 50% (even much less in European Parliament election) almost every person in Poland knows best how to govern the whole country and complains about politics. As far as I know this kind of attitude is sadly not exclusive to my country.
I also vote because I feel obliged to do it as a citizen of Poland and a citizen of the European Union. Perhaps it is not the most important factor but still it is motivating me. Finally, we all live in democracy and as citizens of democratic countries we should participate somehow in this political system. Voting is the best way to do it.
What has to change in Europe is the attitude of Europeans towards further integration. The best and the most natural way to do it is the expansion of the European Union. Sadly, especially countries of the so-called ‘old Europe’ are more and more reluctant to accept new members. On the other hand, countries that joined the European Union in 2004 and later are generally really fond of this idea. Not to mention citizens of states aspiring to become the EU member.
I am a great supporter of the idea of further European integration considered as the enlargement of the European Union. Mostly because I saw by myself how much good it did to Poland and the Polish people. I am not speaking only about EU funds, great infrastructural investments and possibilities to work legally abroad, but also about the confidence it gave the Polish people in contacts with foreigners and a better political culture. Poland has been a fully independent country only for approximately 25 years and we still have a lot to learn in this last field (the political culture).
I think it is crucial for Western Europeans to understand that the EU enlargement is inevitable and necessary for the EU to succeed further. The enthusiasm of the newcomers is something that should not be underestimated: especially now, when many anti-EU parties are gaining more and more support throughout all of Europe. We cannot hesitate with the further integration. Recent developments in the Ukraine showed to all Europeans that it is not a solution.
What do young people feel when they think of Europe? What would they want to change, where does the EU plays on their nerves? Handelsblatt Online and FutureLab Europe joined forces to bring up a set of young voices. The respondent today is Slawomir Parus (27) from Poland. Read the original article on Handelsblatt Online.